What is Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a procedure in which various mental or emotional difficulties or disorders of personality are treated by some sort of communication between a psychotherapist and at least one patient. The nature of the difficulties, the specific setting for the procedure, and the particular sort of communication between the participants can vary quite a bit depending on the type of psychotherapy and how it was conceived (e.g. group psychotherapy, marital psychotherapy, play psychotherapy with children, behavioral therapy, or psychoanalysis). Different kinds of experiences in therapy can help different patients with distinct emotional difficulties. However, despite all the individual variability in that, there seem to be a few common factors associated with being helpful. The Psychoanalytic Research Consortium (PRC) and many other psychotherapy researchers have attempted to describe this process in detail. In the PRC, we have assessed a few common factors associated with a helpful psychotherapy process. Some of these factors are specific to the psychotherapist, some are specific to the patient, and some have to do with how patient and psychotherapist relate to one another. Through our clinical research, we feel we can help determine how best to listen and respond to another person in a particular way feels helpful to patients with various kinds of emotional difficulties.


PRC Educational Manual

In this site, we are interested in how psychotherapy works, and what actually occurs when it is helpful in alleviating a patient’s emotional distress. We have written this educational manual for clinicians, researchers, and psychotherapy students to help characterize various aspects of the psychotherapy process.



Along with relevant clinical examples, we have provided a description of several aspects of this process:

  • Why do patients come for help, and how do they get better?
  • The therapeutic alliance
  • What psychotherapists say
  • What patients say
  • Interactions between patient and psychotherapist