Picture of Henriette Johnsen, Psychotherapist MPF

What is psychotherapy and how can it help you?

Throughout the years, many have asked me what psychotherapy is – and how a psychotherapist differs from a psychologist and a psychiatrist. If you also wonder about these things, and how psychotherapy can help you, the answers are on this page.

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What is psychotherapy?

Practically, this is done by identifying and understanding the dynamics, patterns, and strategies behind our way of seeing and being in the world. Often, these strategies are grounded in our childhood based upon our upbringing. And though they used to be useful and serve a purpose, they might not necessarily be optimal for our current relationships and life situation. By identifying and understanding them, we can actively work with our thoughts, emotions, and actions to create new strategies to begin leading a more satisfying life.

Depending on your needs, psychotherapy can be individual, for couples, as well as for the whole family. We are enriched with many schools of psychotherapy; and if you don’t have any experience with this, it can be difficult to choose a direction. Therefore, I offer integrative psychotherapy which means I draw on various different kinds of psychology to design your therapy bespoke to you and your unique needs.

Research shows that it’s not so much the method used by the therapist as it’s the relationship between the client and their therapist which is essential for the outcome of therapy. Regardless of which direction your therapist practises, it’s vital to pick a therapist whom you have good report with and whom you can build a trusting relationship with. This is the primary reason for me not to use an online booking portal; I prefer to talk with potential clients before they make a booking.

Psychotherapy is talking therapy focusing on

identifying and working through problems which can hinder a person from living their life freely, with meaning, and in attunement with their values and integrity.

Holding Hands

How can psychotherapy help you?

There are many good reasons to be in therapy. When life is painful and challenging, seems pointless or overwhelming, psychotherapy can be a route through the difficulties to start leading a more meaningful and satisfactory life. Some of the issues my clients bring to me are:

  • Abuse

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Bereavement

  • Depression

  • Divorce

  • Grief

  • Low self-esteem/self-worth

  • Life crisis

Therapy can also be valuable in working with personal development in general. Overall, you could say that therapy can help you create meaning in your life for you to live in accordance with your values and integrity.

  • Loneliness

  • Negative thoughts

  • PTSD

  • Relational problems

  • Sexual problems

  • Social isolation

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Stress

  • Trauma

What is a psychotherapist?

The title psychotherapist isn’t a legally protected title in Denmark, and unfortunately anyone can call themself a psychotherapist. However, in England, where I have taken my training, the title of psychotherapist is protected by organisations like The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). My training is accredited by BACP.

In Denmark, you can choose a psychotherapist who is a member of Dansk Psykoterapeutforening (the letters MPF signals membership of Dansk Psykoterapeutforening) or Foreningen af Danske Psykoterapeuter. This way you will be sure to meet a therapist who meets a long list of strict requirements in relation to training, ongoing professional development, own therapy, clinical supervision, and experience. 

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This description of a psychotherapist is written under the assumption of membership of Dansk Psykoterapeutforening.

Psychotherapist are trained to have difficult conversations with people, both in and outside of crisis situations. The therapist focuses on identifying the reasons behind their client’s struggles and symptoms as well as on working with the emotions and thoughts around these.

Oval picture of Henriette Johnsen, Psychotherapist MPF

A good therapist will not provide solutions to their client’s problems, but will help and support the client in gaining insight and understanding of their psychological challenges as well as facilitate for the client to find the solutions which are right for them in their life situation. For some, a few sessions might be enough whereas for others, a longer series of sessions is appropriate.

To train as a psychotherapist, which is a four-year part-time programme from a private educational institution, you must already have another interpersonal education and work experience such as nurse, teacher, doctor, or social worker. Psychologists and psychiatrists can also choose to enrol on a psychotherapeutic programme.

The various programmes have strict requirements to theory as well as clinical experience, clinical supervision, and own therapy. This is to ensure that you will be met by a mature therapist who have worked therapeutically with their own experiences in life and as such is able to empathically understand what it means to be in therapy and have trained various psychological and psychotherapeutic theories on own body and mind.

As I have taken my education in England, I have a degree from Middlesex University encompassing 3600 theoretical hours, extensive clinical experience, and supervision alongside own therapy throughout the entire training. My training was validated by BACP and I am an accredited member of Dansk Psykoterapeutforening on equal terms as a Danish trained therapist. You can read more about me here.

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What’s the difference between a psychotherapist, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist?

The three professional groups have in common that they all work with helping people improve their mental health. Just like a psychotherapist, a psychologist will have their starting point in the conversation with the client, but is educated to make psychological diagnoses in relation to psychological illnesses. Training to become a psychologist is a university degree where the majority of the work is focused on theory and methodology. There’s no requirement to have own therapy. After graduation, it takes a least two years to achieve authorisation which requires clinical supervision. Psychologists can’t prescribe medication to their clients.

Source: Dansk Psykoterapeutforening

A psychiatrist is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. Many psychiatrists are specialised within a certain field and many use psychotherapeutic methods and approaches as a supplement to the medicine they are allowed to prescribe. Psychiatrists often work with people with difficult diagnosis such a personality disorders, psychoses etc.

 

How do you choose the right therapist?

Research shows that the most important factor for successful outcome of therapeutic work is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Therefore, I recommend you to be thorough in your choice of therapist: Choose one with an approved education, listen to the experiences of others, check out websites, call or write around – pick the therapist who makes you feel most comfortable and safe with sharing personal and often emotionally difficult issues.