psy·​cho·​ther·​a·​py | \ ˌsī-kō-ˈther-ə-pē \

Definition of psychotherapy 

: treatment of mental or emotional disorder or of related bodily ills by psychological means

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Other Words from psychotherapy

psychotherapist \ ˌsī-​kō-​ˈther-​ə-​pist \ noun

Examples of psychotherapy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are using interpersonal psychotherapy, which focuses on improving relationships as a way to relieve depression symptoms, with pregnant patients. Andrea Petersen, WSJ, "Therapy for Pregnant Women With Anxiety Offers Alternative to Medication," 3 Nov. 2018 Two small studiespublished in 2016 by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and New York University found that a single large dose of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, helped relieve depression and anxiety in cancer patients. Barbara Feder Ostrov, Washington Post, "First, Marijuana. Are Magic Mushrooms Next?," 14 May 2018 Also, some women who stay on medication continue to have symptoms: Adding psychotherapy to antidepressants could help keep them well. Andrea Petersen, WSJ, "Therapy for Pregnant Women With Anxiety Offers Alternative to Medication," 3 Nov. 2018 Take Findings from one study on the effects of MDMA on autistic adults were were presented at the APA symposium and suggest that social anxiety in autistic adults could be treated through a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "People With Depression and Anxiety Could Benefit From Hallucinogens," 10 Aug. 2018 In the early 1990s, the FDA approved experiments in which MDMA was used as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Susan Scutti, CNN, "MDMA enhances treatment for veterans with PTSD, study finds," 1 May 2018 The disorder is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, Dr. Reinecke says, adding that the combination seems to be the most effective. Korin Miller, SELF, "What's the Difference Between Occasional Obsessive Thoughts and OCD?," 1 June 2018 Depending on severity and the other particulars of each individual, adult ADHD may be treated with medications, a particular type of psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Andrea K. Mcdaniels,, "Children aren't the only ones with ADHD; adults get it as well," 17 May 2018 Reich was a controversial Austrian psychotherapist and doctor eventually jailed for his thoughts and practices on psychotherapy using his own scientific creation., "Kylie Jenner, Crystals & Cults: Inside The Mysterious Orgonite Society," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'psychotherapy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of psychotherapy

circa 1890, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for psychotherapy

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for psychotherapy

The first known use of psychotherapy was circa 1890

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More Definitions for psychotherapy



English Language Learners Definition of psychotherapy

: treatment of mental or emotional illness by talking about problems rather than by using medicine or drugs


psy·​cho·​ther·​a·​py | \ ˌsī-kō-ˈther-ə-pē \
plural psychotherapies

Medical Definition of psychotherapy 

1 : treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by psychological means especially involving verbal communication (as in psychoanalysis, nondirective psychotherapy, reeducation, or hypnosis)
2 : any alteration in an individual's interpersonal environment, relationships, or life situation brought about especially by a qualified therapist and intended to have the effect of alleviating symptoms of mental or emotional disturbance

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