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What is Psychotherapy?

2019/02/13 Home Education and advice

According to both the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), one in five individuals experience depression, anxiety or another mental disorder.  Others need help coping with medical diagnoses, coping with relationship troubles, job stress, the death of a loved one, or other issues.  These problems can often become debilitating. 

What is Psychotherapy?

A psychologist can help you work through issues such as those described above. Through psychotherapy, psychologists can help individuals of all ages live happier, healthier and more productive lives.

In psychotherapy, psychologists apply evidence-based treatments to help people develop healthier, more effective habits. There are several modes of psychotherapy that can help individuals work through their issues.  Psychotherapy is a collaborative in that it is based on the relationship between an individual and a therapist. It provides a forum for you to talk openly with someone objective, neutral and nonjudgmental.


Information disclosed to a psychologist is confidential and cannot be disclosed without the client’s consent except under certain specific conditions (Canadian Psychological Association).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a well-known and effective type of mental health treatment. Cognitive behavioral theory believes that psychological symptoms are the result of the interaction between thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. In CBT, the therapist and client work as partners in a structured manner. The goal is for the client to become aware of inaccurate and negative ways of thinking and behaving so that s/he can view challenging situations in a clearer manner and respond to them more effectively. While CBT can be very useful in treating psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression, it can also be highly effective in helping any individual learn how to better manage stressful life situations. Some of the strategies commonly used in this therapy include stress management, breathing retraining, thought stopping, and mindfulness training.

Dr. Rachel Goodman’s General Areas of Treatment in Psychotherapy:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety (including phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,

obsessive compulsive disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder)

  • Stress Management
  • Caregiver Stress (in particular with caregivers of dementia patients)
  • Stress associated with medical illness
  • Adult ADHD
  • Organizational Skills
  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Grief Counseling

Clinical Evaluations

Clinical assessment is used by psychologists in order to determine the presence of a psychological disorder, made up of a number of psychological symptoms. During the clinical interview, the psychologist gathers information on the client’s family and medical history, employment and social functioning, and the individual’s psychological history, including past treatment and family psychological history. These factors and others can impact a person’s mental health and well-being. The overall goal of the clinical assessment is to give the psychologist a comprehensive understanding of the client and his/her behavior. This evaluation is significant in determining diagnosis and for treatment planning. Sometimes, clinical evaluations are more informal, made during the initial interview with a client beginning psychotherapy. At other times, they entail structured interviews and other assessment tools used to answer a specific referral question, such as competency of the client.

Neuropsychological Assessments

Neuropsychological Evaluation is a testing method through which a psychologist can gather data about an individual’s cognitive, behavioral, linguistic, motor and executive functioning. It is used for both diagnosis and treatment planning. Testing a variety of cognitive abilities and examining patterns of performance in different areas can help the neuropsychologist make inferences about underlying brain functions.

The benefits of neuropsychological evaluation are that it can help identify your strengths and weaknesses, aid in differential diagnosis, and is normed and reliable. It can be used to measure baseline functioning, cognitive change, and outcome and has led to the early detection of many disorders. By determining which cognitive abilities are preserved and which are affected in an individual with an illness or brain injury, I can predict how well one may respond to different forms of treatment or rehabilitation.

There are different levels of evaluation. Your doctor may refer you for a screening evaluation to determine basic cognitive functioning, or for a more extensive evaluation of all areas of functioning in order to aid in differential diagnosis and treatment planning.

You should be aware that it can take several hours to conduct interviews with both the patient and caregivers/informants, review medical records, and administer face-to-face testing. Then I spend time scoring the tests by comparing the scores against appropriate norms, and prepare a report for your doctor which will include results and recommendations.

Memory Wellness

Normal aging

Some forgetfulness is expected as we age. Aging changes the brain and therefore your memory abilities change as well. This is normal (providing there are no underlying medical conditions) and is referred to as “age‑related” memory change. It may take longer to learn new things, remember certain words, or find your glasses. These changes are often signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems.

There are several factors that may improve your memory:

  • stay physically fit (exercise) and get lots of rest
  • mental activities (reading, crossword puzzles, educational experiences)
  • social activity; spend time with your friends and family
  • healthy diet (lower fat and cholesterol)
  • volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship

When Memory Loss May be Serious

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has your memory loss ever scared you?
  • Are people that care about you expressing concern?
    Are they subtly trying to take over tasks for you like errands or paying bills?
  • Do you struggle to make simple decisions about everyday things?
  • Has your memory caused everyday life to be difficult?

(Contents adapted from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and BeBrainFit websites)

Memory changes as you get older can seem worrisome, at times, but are often only signs of inattention and normal aging. Better understanding how your memory works can help you to determine if you are one of the “worried well” or if you should consult your doctor about your memory.

Rachel Z. Goodman, Ph.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Address:           KINATEX COTE ST LUC-  6900 Decarie Blvd., Suite M170 – Cote St. Luc, Quebec – H3X 2T8



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