There is something profoundly mysterious about psychotherapy. What happens in therapy sessions is not open for public inspection because clients want and deserve privacy. This is further complicated by the difficulty in describing the process of a therapy session—its accomplishments, failures, and idiosyncrasies—once it is over. It is tempting to want to learn about psychotherapies by quickly jumping into elaborate descriptions of therapy techniques and methods employed by practitioners. This attempt, however, may not allow the introductory student-therapist the ability to truly understand the complexity of the therapeutic process and the emotionally intimate relationship between practitioner and client. A more comprehensive approach to learning is required. Take for instance the process of making furniture: You need to learn about the uses and handling of various wood-working tools, acquire an understanding of how different types of wood need to be handled, learn about glue, and so on. Applying this line of thinking to clinical psychology, the following questions and objectives are therefore tackled here. The learning objectives for this chapter are:

What is psychotherapy and what is the necessary delivery format?

What therapist qualities are important?

Do some clients respond better than others?

How much and what kind of training makes the “best” therapists?

How long does it take before one can expect results in therapy?

Is psychotherapy an art or just good training and experience?

What are typical presenting problems and themes that cut across almost all forms of therapy?

In what ways are different-sounding therapies alike?