The core element of all forms of psychotherapy is the interaction between the patient(s) and the therapist(s). The reason for all those brackets is that the various therapies can take place in a one-to-one setting or in a group with one or more therapists. Groups can vary from couples and families to a collection of individuals with similar problems. With changes in how we interact socially therapies are changing too and there are now approaches that allow for delivery of therapy online (this tends to be limited to particular forms of therapy)

There are several features that are common to all forms of psychological therapy:

  • An intense confiding relationship
  • They take place in a healing setting (surgery, clinic, community mental health centre)
  • They are founded on rationales of therapy (model of understanding normal/abnormal
  • behaviour or states of mind)
  • They involve a therapeutic procedure.

Good therapists share several characteristics, most of which have to be developed through practise and training.

  • Accurate empathy refers to the therapist’’s ability to perceive what the patient is experiencing.
  • Positive regard is the attitude of respect to the patient as a person, which underlies a good therapeutic relationship.

These qualities are also important for the development of good doctor/patient relationships in all settings.

Two sub-pages cover the specifics of dynamic psychotherapy and behavioural therapy.


Psychological therapies handout

Link to blog posts featuring psychotherapy

External links
— On a BBC video family therapist, Peter Brown, outlines the procedure of family therapy. Family therapists may work as a small team to help children or teens with serious behavioural issues and it is this approach that is discussed
Leaflet from the Royal College of Psychiatrists discussing psychotherapies