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Psychotherapists: Medical Experts for Mental Health

Last updated on 19 August 2020

Psychotherapy comes from the ancient Greek word Psyche, meaning breath, spirit, soul, and Therapeia, meaning healing and medical treatment. i.,e healing of the soul.

Psychotherapy as a method to treat mental illness was practised as early as the ancient Greek civilization. But it gained more popularity only in the 19th century when Sigmund Freud developed the psychoanalytic theory of personality. It was a time in history when people were still transitioning from an era of religion to science. Science was still a radical idea to many; it was a completely different way of looking at the world. With developments in mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry, neurologists and psychiatrists (neuropsychiatrists) too wanted to look at mental illness from the lens of science and evidence-based research.

Table of Contents

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a generic term for all mental health treatments that help people find relief from emotional distress and mood disorders. Psychotherapy methods differ from one another in their techniques, strategies, philosophical and theoretical approaches; while some are rooted in science, others aren’t.

There are several hundreds of different forms of psychotherapies, but whatever their origin, all psychotherapies fall under any one or more of the following seven traditions:

  1. Psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud
  2. Transpersonal theory by Carl Jung
  3. Behavioural psychology by Alfred Adler
  4. Somatic psychology by Wilhelm Reich
  5. Existential psychotherapy by Otto Rank
  6. Systemic theory by Erikson
  7. Expressive theory by Moreno

Who is a psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is a mental health professional who has the licence to provide therapy services to people with mental health conditions. A psychotherapist can be a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker or anyone who have earned their licence to practise from an academic institution or agency.

What does a psychotherapist do?

A psychotherapist helps a person with mental illness find relief from emotional distress and mood disorders. Psychotherapy is otherwise known as talk therapy; in a therapy session, the psychotherapist will talk a patient through what’s causing them distress. questions on the family tree, genetics, relationships, support structure, illnesses, childhood experiences, trauma, schooling, employment etc., will be discussed. The therapist will then help you identify and articulate feelings and emotions you don’t understand ., i.e. sub-conscious memories and help you make informed decisions on what’s best for your overall well-being.

How often should you see a psychotherapist?

We feel sad and hopeless from time to time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have depression. Feeling sad and hopeless from time to time is part and parcel of our everyday normal lives. But when your life is unmanageable, and you feel too overwhelmed over an extended period, it’s time you see a therapist. You need to see a therapist if you have,

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Anger issues
  • Problems related to employment
  • Problems related to relationships: divorce, friendships, social support
  • Chronic health conditions etc.

What degrees do you need to be a psychotherapist?

Degrees and licenses to practise psychotherapy vary from country to country. Following are a few list of courses one needs to have a degree in to practise psychotherapy:

  • Diploma in Hypno-psychotherapy
  • Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Bachelors in Psychotherapy and Counselling
  • BSc (Hons) in Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Masters in Psychotherapy
  • MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Masters in Systemic Psychotherapy
  • PhD in Psychotherapy and Counselling

How to find a good psychotherapist?

To find a good psychotherapist, ask your doctor or another health professional for references. Decide on the type of psychotherapy you’d want to or are comfortable with, and reach out for consultations.

How to choose a psychotherapist?

Choosing the right therapist is one of the most important and personal decisions you would make. Here are seven crucial tips to help you choose the right therapist:

  1. Research. There are hundreds of different forms of psychotherapies out there. Decide on the one you are comfortable with that aligns with your values. There is no hard and fast rule of what works and what doesn’t. What’s important is that you need to know what you are getting into and feel comfortable with your decisions.
  2. Get the right referrals. Speak with your family member, doctor, friends to help you connect with the right therapist.
  3. Check for licencing and credentials of the therapist.
  4. Consider the years of experience of the therapist.
  5. Consider the gender of the therapist. It would be best if you considered the gender of the therapist because you may have to disclose or open up about your personal information.
  6. Consider the communication style of the therapist. Choose a therapist you would gel along with quickly. Developing a rapport helps in communicating efficiently with the therapist. If possible, read patient reviews to help you make the right decisions.
  7. Know what your insurance covers.
  8. At MFine, we treat your health as our top priority. Book an online appointment, and our specialists will get in touch with you shortly!
  9. You can consult top psychotherapists near you all from the comfort of your home — Download the MFine app now or visit our website.

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What are some mental health conditions treated by psychotherapists?

Here are seven mental health conditions diagnosed and treated by psychotherapists (in consultation with psychiatrists). They are

  1. Clinical depression: As per DSM – 5, it’s a condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, having low mood or loss of interest for at least two weeks. A clinically depressed person may exhibit the following symptoms.
    1. Loss of appetite
    2. Insomnia
    3. Fatigue
    4. Feeling worthless and hopeless
    5. Loss of concentration
    6. Agitated mood 
    7. Suicidal
  2. Generalized Anxiety: As per DSM – 5, it’s a condition characterized by persistent feelings of anxiety and worries for at least six months, and the patient may exhibit the following symptoms.
    1. Muscle tension
    2. Sleep disturbances
    3. Fatigue
    4. Restlessness
    5. Unable to concentrate
    6. Irritability
  3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): It’s a condition characterized by an irrational behaviour that drives people to do something repetitively (compulsion)—for example, repeatedly washing hands because one is obsessed with cleanliness or repeatedly closing the door because of their irrational obsession with security. Symptoms of OCD as per DSM – 5 include 
    1. The presence of obsession, compulsion, or both
    2. Recurring and persistent thoughts
  4. Schizophrenia: It’s a condition characterized by delusions, i.e., the person is not in touch with their reality. They may exhibit the following symptoms.
    1. Hallucinations of smell, sound and vision.
    2. Delusions: Fear of something imaginary.
    3. Incoherent speech: murmuring, slurring etc
    4. Incoherent thoughts: their conversations wouldn’t make logical sense. They’d forget and keep changing the topic of discussion, which would make no logical sense.
  5. Bipolar disorder: It is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of depression and mania. 
    1. Depressive episode symptoms:
      1. Lethargy
      2. Low mood
      3. Loss of interest or focus
      4. Sleep disorders
      5. Suicidal tendencies
    2. Manic episode symptoms:
      1. Feeling extremely happy and energetic.
      2. Grandiosity: it’s a feeling of overly high self-esteem and faith in their abilities (even though that may not be the case)
      3. Impulsive and risky behaviour
      4. Delusions
      5. Aggressive or agitated
  6. Alcoholism: It’s both a physical and mental illness. It’s physical because it affects the central nervous system (brain) and mental because it’s an obsession (an urge to do something repetitively). Symptoms of alcoholism include
    1. Obsession: an urge to drink daily, often uncontrollably
    2. Grandiosity: an inflated sense of self
    3. Loss of balance while walking
    4. Slurring
    5. Aggression or depression
  7. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): It’s a disorder that occurs in people who have experienced trauma in their lives, such as the loss of dear ones, natural disasters, rape, serious accidents, war, conflict etc. Symptoms of PTSD include the following.
    1. Anxiety
    2. Fear
    3. Depression
    4. Trust issues
    5. Panic attacks etc

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