The History Of Psychotherapy

The history of psychotherapy goes back a long way. The ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece had very clear ideas about mental health, particularly depression and dementia.

Buddhism also has ideas about the cause of mental suffering from ignorance. Traditional Chinese medicine makes connections between organs and emotions and provides psychotherapy techniques for working with these via acupuncture.


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The great Islamic civilizations also contributed to psychotherapy by introducing the ideas of mental health and the use of drugs to treat the mentally ill.

Throughout the medieval period, mental illness was associated with the possession or was considered the sins of the person involved. Where religion and religious practices were considered the main ways to treat people. These could often be very brutal or involve death.

In the late 18th century, however, things began to change. Franz Mesmer developed a new technique called mesmerism which is a primitive form of hypnotherapy. This was the first time a more scientific approach was developed.

Throughout the 19th century, this work was built on and some of the longstanding views such as the contested possession and which dissipated. Towards the end of the century Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalytic psychotherapy began practicing in Vienna.

Freud had the revolutionary idea that we have been influenced by the core players we were mostly unaware of. He called this our unconscious and has developed an approach that enabled the psychotherapist to delve into the unconscious and help the patient to be free of these discs.