The Evolution of Psychotherapy Through the Ages

Interested to gain a better understanding of what Psychotherapy is? Join us as we dig through the historical records and learn about how it all began!

But before we delve into the interesting backstory of psychotherapy, let us first understand what exactly is psychotherapy.


Psychotherapy, also known as its other modern moniker “talk therapy”, is essentially a method to treat and help with psychological problems, mental disorders, or emotional difficulties. While it may sound very much like a treatment that surfaced only to deal with twentieth century issues, it really is not.

The Early Days:

Psychoanalysis psychotherapy

You might be surprised to learn that historical records trace the roots of psychotherapy all the way back to the 1800s where the first psychological clinic was opened, and in other cases even to the early 10th century.

But is it really that surprising that our ancestors in the olden days had their fair share of troubles and challenges which required the reassurance and counsel of others?

From the ancient Greeks to the Middle ages, there have been recorded instances of therapy (albeit at times inappropriate and dubious mixed in with religious and ‘magical’ approaches) that our ancestors turned to, to deal with mental illness.

Emergence of New Schools of Thought in the 19th Century

18th century physician Franz Anton Mesmer spearheaded one of the first few secular psychotherapy treatments – mesmerism – which involved the idea of aligning magnetic forces in the body and the subtle power of suggestion. This eventually paved the way for what we now as hypnotherapy in modern times.

Another significant contributor to the field is world renowned neurologist, and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Over half a century, Freud’s work on the unconscious human mind, dreams, sexuality, and therapeutic techniques like free association radically changed the way the world viewed mental disorders and human behaviour.

Modern Day Therapy

Towards the end of the 20th century, the first iterations of psychotherapy treatments that we are familiar with today started to be developed:

·       Carl Rogers’s Client-Centred approach which focused on concepts like having a non-judgmental attitude, unconditional positive regard, reflection and more

·       Albert Ellis’s Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, a solution-oriented treatment method that a brings forth a person’s awareness of inaccurate or negative thought patterns.

Fast forward to 2020, psychotherapy has since evolved into the preferred remedy for modern day challenges –loneliness, stress, depression and more – with plenty of modern techniques for consideration:

·       Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy to help identify and change distorted or negative ways of thinking

·       Interpersonal Psychotherapy to help address and cope with challenges like grief, major transitions in life, conflict in relationships etc.

·       Supportive Psychotherapy that helps development of coping skills in life

·       And many more

Copingwiththeblues psychotherapy

The Importance of Mental Health Care Today

As you can see, the world has come a long way in recognizing mental health as a critical aspect of one’s well-being!

As ardent advocates of mental health, we want to speak up more about this topic with the help of articles like this, and in the process encourage more people to get the help they need!

Let us get the conversation on mental health care going today!


Where private practice meets
A Space Between provides flexible co-working office spaces for rent to therapists and other professionals in Singapore.
A Space Between is a destination for mental health therapy activities. Counsellors utilise our many conducive therapy rooms for consultations. Located conveniently downtown and offering your independent therapists rent by the hour, we house many professional mental health practitioners, including LGBTQ+ friendly ones. To find out more about the therapists practising in A Space Between, write to us at [email protected].
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