The word "psychotherapy" might be literally translated "tending the soul." It involves looking after your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There are many ways to do this: meditation, talking with friends, reading, practicing your religion, going on retreats, etc. But the one that involves talking about these things with a trained and experienced person is what is properly called psychotherapy.
There are literally hundreds of kinds of psychotherapy. They might be divided up into four main branches: behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic psychotherapy and psychodynamic therapy. Behavioral therapy seeks to change troubling behaviors through the application of learning techniques. Cognitive therapy concentrates on correcting wrong thinking, attempting in that way to remove destructive thought patterns that cause problems. Humanistic therapy emphasizes the realization of personal potentials in the caring and supportive environment of the therapeutic setting.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy takes a different tack. This approach takes it for granted that we have attitudes and responses that arise from an area within us that is not consciously known by us. For the sake of simplicity, this area is called the "unconscious," "subconscious," or "inner mind." Psychodynamic therapy is based on the belief that if these unrecognized influences on our thinking, feeling and acting can be brought to consciousness, we are on our way to remedying the things that trouble us. There are various ways to get at these unconscious influences, such as dream analysis, therapeutic trances, or just plain talking.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy does not limit itself to the investigation of unconscious influences but also deals with the day-to-day realities of living, whether in relationships, work, or creative endeavors. In addition it assists clients in discovering their life's direction and finding out how to realize their dreams.