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Psychotherapy has its roots all the way back in 4th century BC with the Greeks. One of its founders and most recognized names is Sigmund Freud, who, in the early 20th century became interested in the unconscious mind. In this article we will look at the history, the use, the effectiveness and the criticisms of psychotherapy.


It is argued that psychotherapy started as early as the late 4th century BC with the Stoic schools in Greece and Rome. The founders of the rational-emotive behavior therapy and cognitive therapy themselves state them as the precursors to psychotherapy. However, the first school that was created specifically at dealing with psychotherapy was psychoanalysis.

Its creator was Sigmund Freud. Freud was originally a neurologist but became interested in the unconscious mind and early childhood experiences as causes of psychological issues among individuals.

Behaviorism was developed in the 1920s and would gain mass appeal in the 1940s and 1950s. It was based around social learning, classical conditioning and operant conditioning. It became popular in the treatment of phobias. Existential philosophy would become popular in the United States during the 1950s. It was about looking at an individual’s capability in making purpose and meaning out of their own lives. Cognitive and Behavioral therapies would be combined to make Cognitive Behavioral Therapy during the 1970s. This continues to be one of the most widely used and effective forms of therapy today.


Psychotherapy is used to treat the psychological problems an individual might have. Each individuals problems can differ in their triggers, causes, influences, and potential resolutions. Psychotherapy is meant to increase the individual’s sense of well-being. Techniques for a psychotherapist include dialogue, experiential relationship building, behavior and communication change. These techniques are used to improve group relationships and the mental health of clients.

Women talking to Psychotherapist


The effectiveness of psychotherapy can be questionable as there is no empirical way of measuring it. Positive outcomes are very specific with each individual patient. What a professional working with one patient may find a success may not be considered a success for another. Psychotherapy has a very large drop out rate. Almost 50% of patients do not complete their treatment. This may speak on part of its efficacy. However, part of psychotherapy, much like taking medications, is trying to find the best one that works for you. This can be a long process of meeting with your psychiatrist or other professionals on a routine basis to figure out what you need and what would be the best way of giving it to you.


There is a lot of criticism around the effectiveness of psychotherapies. One of the criticisms is that there has never been any study in the long term effectiveness of psychotherapies. There also has never been comparative studies to decide which therapies work best. Many psychotherapists would argue that certain psychotherapies suit certain individuals and that trying to figure out which is best would be arbitrary. One of the biggest concerns with psychotherapy is that there does not seem to be an empirical method for figuring out its efficacy.

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