A satisfying definition of psychotherapy is very hard to conceive of, or express. The word itself is derived from the two Greek words: "psych" meaning soul and "therapeuin" meaning treatment. Thus psychotherapy is literally: "treatment of the soul". People suffer from emotional distress and their "soul" hurts. Psychotherapy is the treatment method of choice: it aims to heal the ailing soul.
A more contemporary definition is that psychotherapy is an interpersonal process designed to bring about changes in the feelings, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of persons experiencing emotional and psychological problems. This may be a more acceptable and understandable definition to many people since the concept of soul is now usually expressed in terms of the mind, brain and body, and of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The person seeking help, and the physician psychotherapist enter into
a special personal-professional relationship. This usually takes the form
of an interactive conversation which takes place regularly at a pre-agreed
time and place. The patient and therapist work as a team in helping
the patient understand and express their life issues, deal with their problems
and cope with (sometimes even resolve) but often simply adapt to problems
of living. The therapy sessions are usually once or twice a week for a few
weeks to several months.