Psychotherapy is accomplished through a series of face-to-face discussions, in which a therapist helps a person to talk about, define, and resolve personal problems that are troubling. Psychotherapies generally appear to be more effective and appropriate than drugs or ECT for less severe forms of emotional distress.
Long-term psychotherapy, lasting from several months to several years, emphasizes the study of underlying problems that started in childhood. Short-term psychotherapy, lasting for several weeks or months, is used when the problem seems to result from a stressful life event such as a death in the family, divorce, or physical illness.
The goal of the therapist is to help the patient resolve the problems as quickly as possible. Often this takes only a few visits.