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Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a treatment for individuals experiencing mental illness and emotional challenges. Consistent psychotherapy can help individuals eliminate or manage difficult symptoms to improve their quality of life and overall well-being.

Who Needs Psychotherapy?

Individuals experiencing the following issues may benefit from psychotherapy:

  • Recent traumatic event
  • Medical illness or injury
  • Loss or death of a loved one
  • Mental disorder, like depression or anxiety

Therapy Sessions

Psychotherapy may be offered on an individual, family, couple, or group basis. Both children and adults may receive psychotherapy. Each therapy session may last between 30 and 50 minutes.

To ensure effectiveness, both patient and therapist need to play an active role. Trust is key to developing a relationship in which the patient feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, experiences, and concerns. The therapist will keep all communication confidential.

The individual may only need psychotherapy on a short-term basis, such as a few weeks. Or, they may need long-term psychotherapy lasting anywhere from a few months to a few years. The length of therapy will depend on the complexity of the client’s issues. Psychotherapy will be personalized to the individual’s needs.

Psychotherapy and Medication

Some individuals may need medication to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Depending on the patient’s condition, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication and also recommend making changes in nutrition, engaging in exercise, and getting proper sleep every night. The psychotherapist will support the individual’s overall well-being.

Is Psychotherapy Effective?

Psychotherapy may help individuals improve their emotions and behaviors. These improvements are linked to positive changes in the brain and body. The benefits of psychotherapy include improved physical health (fewer sick days), reduced risk of disability, fewer medical problems, and increased satisfaction in the workplace.

To increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy, individuals should adopt a collaborative mindset, be open and honest with their therapist, and follow the therapist’s treatment instructions, such as journaling or implementing coping strategies.

A few different types of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), dialectical behavior therapy, psychodynamic therapy, psychoanalysis, supportive therapy, animal-assisted therapy, creative arts therapy, and play therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy helps individuals identify harmful or ineffective patterns of behavior and replace them with more accurate or helpful thoughts and behaviors. CBT may help treat depression, anxiety, trauma, and eating disorders.

Interpersonal therapy. This form of short-term therapy helps patients understand troubling interpersonal issues, such as unresolved grief, conflict with a spouse, or difficulty relating to others. IPT can help individuals learn how to express their thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. IPT can also help treat depression.

Dialectical behavior therapy. Individuals battling suicidal thoughts and those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and PTSD may need this form of therapy to help regulate their emotions.

Psychodynamic therapy. This form of therapy is based on the idea that behavior and mental well-being are shaped by childhood experiences and intrusive thoughts or feelings outside of a person’s awareness.

Psychoanalysis. This form of therapy is an intensive form of psychodynamic therapy.

Supportive therapy. Individuals receiving supportive therapy are encouraged to develop their own resources to reduce anxiety, build confidence, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social skills.