What is psychotherapy?

The origin of the term psychotherapy is derived from the Ancient Greek psyche (meaning “breath; spirit; soul”) and Therapeia (“healing; medical treatment). Psychotherapy is a psychological treatment but moreover, it’s an experience. It requires a meeting of at least two people, but it can also be delivered in a group.

Dr Gabriela van den Hoven, a clinical psychologist in London offers psychotherapy to her patients and is here to tell us more about what psychotherapy involves.

Clinical psychologist in London

A lot of research goes into different treatment models to determine what works best for different people. Nonetheless, it has also been demonstrated that regardless of the treatment model, a key element for a successful outcome has to do with the development of a “good enough” therapeutic relationship. The emergence of a good working therapeutic relationship does not get established by following a standardised protocol. It is an art, grounded in the training of the therapist, which involves years of personal analysis, self-reflection and training.

What are the main goals of psychotherapy?

The main long-term goal of psychotherapy is to enable patients to fully engage with what matters most to them, to feel free to pursue their personal goals, without feeling held back by inhibitions or anxieties.

How long does treatment take?

The length of treatment varies from one individual to another and it can be difficult to predict how long treatment will take before the treatment actually begins. Treatment can last from four to 10 sessions or it can last years, depending on the person’s goals and their past experiences. The length of the treatment is only really known when it finishes.

Do you have any advice for those considering psychotherapy?

People come to therapy because something doesn’t work and they are suffering and going through a hard time. Timing is important for therapy, it’s important to start therapy of your own accord, because you want to and not because other people want you to do it. It’s also good to do your research beforehand, so that you pick a therapist with whom you feel at ease to share your inner world and innermost thoughts with.


If you have questions about psychotherapy and would like to book a consultation with Dr Gabriela van den Hoven, please do so via her Top Doctors profile.

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