Institut für Sozial- und Gesundheitspsychologie

Mariahilfer Straße 88a/1/6

1070 Wien

T: (+43) 1 786 18 10 

F: (+43) 1 786 18 10-77



What is Psychotherapy? PDF Print E-mail
Sofa von Sigmund Freud

Be means of psychotherapy, psychotherapists strive to cure or ease distress with scientifically grounded methods in the relation with a patient/client.  Inner (psychological) and interpersonal conflicts as well as traumatic experiences can be coped with and handled with its help. The differences to coaching are often fluent. As opposed to psychological counselling or coaching, psychotherapy is primarily indicated, if the severity of the experienced psychological strain and the physical and mental effects has exceeded a certain extent.

The psychotherapeutic relationship is characterised by talk and can be supported through purposeful exercises. There are various psychotherapeutic movements with different theoretic models and foci. The  offer of the ISG psychotherapists includes psychoanalytically oriented, client-centred, systemic and behavioral methods that are explained in more detail as follows:

Sofa von Sigmund Freud, aufgenommen im Freud-Museum London
  • Psychoanalysis belongs to – as opposed to the other practicable or trainable treatments – the uncovering therapies, which try to give the patients a deeper understanding of the original (mostly unconscious) relations of their sufferings.  Furthermore, its aim is a continuing change of the personality, especially of the emotional life in those areas that cause mental distress.
  • The idea of humankind of the client-centred psychotherapy assumes that the human being possesses an innate tendency for self-actualisation and fulfilment, which causes a progress and maturation of personality under advantageous circumstances.  The help seeking person already bears a lot that is necessary for his or her cure within him-/herself and is able to analyse his/her personal situation and work out solutions for the individual problems with the help of the therapist.
  • The systemic approach in psychotherapy views the respective system (family or organisation) as the environment, wherein the individual can develop but also suffer from. If a member displays behavioural peculiarities, he or she is considered as „symptom carrier“for the entire system
  • Behavioral therapy comes from the concretely present problems and tries to find a solution or alteration for them. Applied methods are for example: confrontation with fear inducing situations (in the imagination), positive reinforcement of desired behaviour, and scrutinising of negative thoughts and beliefs.

By means of psychotherapeutic treatment, a number of psychological and physical sufferings can be successfully cured or eased, e.g. depression, phobias, different forms of addictions and personality disorders, and in children/adolescents: behavioral problems, ADHS/hyperactivity, concentration- and achievement problems, as well as school refusal. Psychotherapy is also the method of choice after traumatic experiences, in order to facilitate psychological coping. Sometimes, also a combination with medical treatment (in cooperation with resident medical specialists) is helpful. In general, psychotherapy also helps individual people, couples or families and groups, respectively, to make their personal existence and their everyday life more satisfying.  An essential component of the effectiveness of psychotherapy is the success of a good psychotherapeutic relationship between the therapist and the patient/client.  For an advantageous development, this takes time. Sessions usually therefore last between 45 and 90 minutes, at which the treatment can last several weeks, months or even years, depending on the severity.