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Psychotherapy (also psychological therapy or talking therapy) is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction with adults, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual's well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions, and to improve relationships and social skills. There are also numerous types of psychotherapy designed for children and adolescents, such as play therapy. Certain psychotherapies are considered evidence-based for treating some diagnosed mental disorders. Others have been criticized as pseudoscience.
There are hundreds of psychotherapy techniques, some being minor variations, while others are based on very different conceptions of psychology. Most involve one-to-one sessions, between the client and therapist, but some are conducted with groups, including families.
Psychotherapists may be mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, or professional counselors. Psychotherapists may also come from a variety of other backgrounds, and depending on the jurisdiction may be legally regulated, voluntarily regulated or unregulated (and the term itself may be protected or not).
Though there are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of psychotherapy, in many ways some are quite similar—they share some common factors.