What happens in therapy?

Dr. Robert Eibl, Surgery for Psychotherapeutic Medicine - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Initial Interview
Dr. Robert Eibl, Surgery for Psychotherapeutic Medicine - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Initial Interview


The initial interview provides the opportunity of gathering a first impression, ideally associated with the feeling of being at ease and welcome: the therapeutic relationship is the mainstay of any form of psychotherapy. Oftentimes more important than the age or gender of the therapist, is how you get on with this person opposite you.

Please bring along your medical records, including the doctor's certificate required by your social health insurance provider, if it has already been completed (for a detailed explanation please see Requirements for a partial reimbursement from your social health insurer).

Appointments for an initial interview last about one and a half hours. They are usually available at short notice!


Psychotherapy has developed many different branches. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one such approach, which is evidence-based and the effectiveness of which for a wide range of psychological difficulties has been extensively researched. It gets by without the famous Couch. Instead, client and doctor sit together and collaborate at eye-level.

CBT has devolped from learning theory. The basic idea: all behaviour that has been learnt, may also be "unlearnt", i.e., be replaced by other, more helpful patterns of behaviour. "Behaviour" in this context does not just cover our actions, what we do or don't do, but also our thoughts and beliefs, our emotions, even the reactions of our body. Systematic self-observation will find these all being closely connected. For example: What are my thoughts, how does my mood change, and how do I react, when I'm being praised for something I have done? Or, quite the opposite, what if I am being criticized? ...

In therapy clients learn to analyse their own behaviour as experienced in significant situations and to reflect upon it. By repeatedly practising and experimenting with more helpful behaviour during therapy sessions and in everyday life - so called exposure treatment -, they acquire skills and strategies to help them cope better with future distress and difficulties. The overall aim of therapy is for the client to learn to be their own therapist and to use the skills acquired during therapy in order to maintain their improvement. Therapeutic work is goal- and solution-oriented, building on the client's resources. And there is even room for humour!

Rigid attitudes developed against the backdrop of personal learning history may be re-examined and new perspectives explored. Thus thinking and behaviour may regain flexibility, and own strengths and resources may be rediscovered!

Changing habits does of course require the client's wish and will to do so, with active participation being a prerequisite. At the same time it is quite normal to experience insecurity about which shape change may take and what personal effort it demands. Building motivation for change is therefore part of therapy. But just as with climbing a mountain clients take every step on their route to change themselves and at their own time - the therapist can't carry them to the peak, but will endeavour to guide them.

Every now and again there will be topics that clients believe are impossible to speak of, as they appear too unpleasant, embarrassing, or painful. The more important it may be to address them in this safe environment. Regardless if this has to do with personal problems, the setting of therapy, or the therapist himself - every matter may be discussed. This allows for therapy to be tailored to the individual needs of the client.

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal. (Friedrich Nietzsche)


As a medical doctor I am able to prescribe medications: these may support the psychotherapeutic process, but they are by no means compulsory. I will gladly discuss the various options with you and assist you in making an informed decision. Whichever your choice in this matter I will support you with it.

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We are all in the gutter,

but some of us are looking at the stars.

(George Bernard Shaw)