Counseling & Talk Therapy
Montgomery Psychiatry & Associates (MPA) offers a wide range of Counseling and Psychotherapy Services in Montgomery, Alabama and the surrounding Metro area.
Our Licensed Counselors and Social Workers share a common goal; to promote Mental Wellness and positive Emotional Health of our patients.
Click here to learn more about MPA's counseling therapists, their services, and specialty areas of practice.
Counseling vs. Psychotherapy, Is There A Difference?
The terms Counseling and Psychotherapy are often used interchangeably due to similar meanings with considerable overlap. 
It may be helpful to think of "counseling" as an umbrella term describing the overall "process", whereas "psychotherapy" (or just plain "therapy") refers to specific treatments or techniques applied during the "process". 
Whether it's called "psychotherapy", "therapy", "counseling", "coaching" or some other label, they all imply that you talk to a mental health professional to help solve various problems in your life.
Generally, the label is not as important as the skill and experience of the clinician providing these services.
Counseling is a process of discovery.
Professional counselors understand principles of human development, psychology, and mental health.
They are skilled in several areas, such as:
- The assessment of people and situations
- Diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders
- Applying strategies that facilitate personal growth and change
Counselors help clients find solutions for a range of circumstances, including:
- Marital problems
- Unanticipated life events
- Personal conflict
- Social injustice
- Job and career issues
Why Do I Need Counseling?
People come to counseling for different reasons.
It takes a strong person to admit they are discontented with their life and need some help.
It is part of the human experience to be met with both wonderful joy and unexpected challenges.
The challenges might lead to:
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Feelings of hostility
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Impulsive behavior
- Self medication and addiction
- Reduced productivity
Counseling clarifies areas in your life that aren’t working.
The goal of counseling is unique to each person’s individual needs, which a therapist and client work together to identify.
The counseling process supports people with:
- Sorting through confusing experiences
- Identifying feelings
- Healing emotional pain
A counselor helps you clarify your problems, identify personal goals, and develop coping skills. It’s a process that helps you get life back in balance.
Psychotherapy (or therapy), in the broadest sense of the word, is a treatment intended to provide relieve from, or healing of, a disorder.
In the pursuit of positive mental health and general emotional well-being, many specific types of therapies have been developed over the years. Each of these therapies is designed to treat psychological (aka mental and emotional) disorders and their resulting symptoms and behaviors.
One of the primary goals of psychotherapy is to help patients develop personal coping strategies by changing unhealthy thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is demonstrably effective in a broad number of psychiatric conditions, and essentially “curative” for several.
People often have problems that they struggle to deal with on a regular basis or during traumatic periods of life.
According to information released by the National Institute of Mental Health:
"In 2015, there were an estimated 43.4 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI [Any Mental Illness] within the past year. This number represented 17.9% of all U.S. adults."  
Struggles can be related to issues such as:
- Weight loss or gain
- Quitting smoking
- Sleep disturbances
More dire forms of emotional or behavioral problems can lead to, or result from, issues like:
- Substance abuse
- Job loss
- Marital disputes
- Sexual abuse
- The loss of a loved one
Psychotherapy provides professional help to such people by assisting them to overcome physical, mental, and emotional obstacles.
What Does a Psychotherapist Do?
A psychotherapist utilizes their professional training and experience to help people overcome various disorders so they can live happier and healthier lives.
Psychotherapy employs certain methods of treatment, such as:
- Cognitive and/or behavioral
Each approach is designed to identify and eliminate bad habits and replace them with more productive ones.
A psychotherapist spends time with their patients, asking them questions, listening to responses and employing the various forms of psychotherapy treatment. Treatment may be provided as part of a group therapy session or through individual counseling.
As patients become more comfortable with their psychotherapy sessions, they tend to open up more freely and it is during such times that negative behavioral pattern sources are identified.
Once the roots of problems are discovered, they can be effectively engaged and treated.
When Psychotherapy Should Be Considered
Many people are reluctant to visit a psychotherapist or counselor.
It might be because they are uncomfortable sharing their problems with others, or because they believe the myths  associated with psychotherapy treatment.
However, when issues begin to take control over normal behavior then it is important to get professional psychotherapy help before irreversible damage is done.
Some of the problems that signal someone may benefit from psychotherapy include:
- Efforts to solve a problem are fruitless
- Prolonged and overwhelming feelings of helplessness
- Maintain a constant state of stress, worry, or anxiety
- Difficulty completing work or daily activities
- Damaging behaviors
- Excessive drinking
- Drug abuse
- Uncontrolled anger
- Under or over eating
- Causing harm to self or others
Choosing the Best Therapy
The road to recovery begins with proper therapy.
Receiving the proper therapy for emotional or behavioral difficulties is the first step towards attaining mental wellness.
Diagnosing a person with emotional difficulties can be very challenging.
To help with this process, a classification system was developed and published by the American Psychiatric Association called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM.  The DSM has been revised and refined several times over the years.
The DSM helps mental health practitioners identify symptoms and behaviors, and choose treatments that will most likely be beneficial to a patient.
The importance of receiving professional help from a properly trained and licensed therapist cannot be understated, because therapeutic treatments must be applied to an individual human being and not merely a collection of symptoms.
Generally, a disorder is defined based on a combination of factors, including a person’s:
After assessing a general pattern of behaviors and symptoms, therapies can be prescribed to treat specific (or a combination of) disorders.
Benefits of Therapy
Therapy can be very effective for a wide range of emotional challenges, including:
- Anxiety issues
- Childhood experiences
- Sexual abuse
- Eating disorders
- Mood swings
- Cognitive behaviors (mental activities such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering)
- Personality traits
- Psychotic or abnormal thinking
- Substance Abuse or Chemical Dependency
Therapy can be received on an individual basis, as part of a group, or both. It might include counseling, coaching, medication, changes in diet, exercise, playful or creative activities, and other interventions.
The therapist you choose is a very important factor in whether a therapy is appropriate and effective for your specific needs.
A Comprehensive Strategy
At MPA, we use a team approach for most conditions, involving:
When combined with cognitive-behavioral informed psychotherapy provided by our counseling therapists, we believe this approach offers our patients the highest likelihood of maximal recovery.
Contact MPA for more information about our Counseling and Psychotherapy Services.
- Source: Ashley Eder, LPC, NCC. "What is the Difference Between Counseling & Psychotherapy?". Retrieved from link to website »
- Source: Human Services Edu. "Counselor vs. Therapist vs. Psychologist". Retrieved from link to website »
- Source: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among U.S. Adults". Retrieved from link to website »
- "As noted [by NIMH, same source], these estimates of AMI do not include substance use disorders, such as drug- or alcohol-related disorders."
- Source: American Psychological Association (APA). "Psychotherapy: Myths versus reality". Retrieved from link to website »
- Source: Wikipedia. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders". Retrieved from link to website »