While there is a view of psychotherapy that applies a medical model (dysfunction and repair), there is also a view that sees psychotherapy as a type of psychological inquiry. The idea is that asking questions of ourselves and coming to a deeper understanding of our own psychological dynamic and our view of the world will lead to a better quality of life.
Coming to know oneself deeply is a common human aspiration, and there are many avenues by which we pursue this goal. Most of the time, people think of psychotherapy as a way to deal with unwanted feelings, dysfunctional behavior patterns, and relationship problems. And those challenging aspects of life are very well addressed in a psychotherapy relationship. Often what happens, though, is that we discover parts of ourselves, our world views, and our ways of being in the world and with other people that are subtly and invisibly contributing to our problems.
This is where the two views of psychotherapy come together. Yes we are fixing something that is not the way we want it. At the same time, part of how we do that, and how we make sure we don’t create similar problems later, is by discovering who we are at a deeper level. By discovering our own complex internal meaning structures, we can make free choices about what we want to stick with and what we want to let go of.
Fundamentally, psychotherapy is about growth, but the activity is inquiry: asking questions of ourselves, trying to know what is really happening inside of us, and freeing ourselves from unwanted and unseen obstacles to our being the people we are freely choosing to be. Building happens, positive thinking happens, pain relief happens. But these are consequences of something more subtle and deeper. We are trying to uncover our own inner motivations and to learn to accept and regulate them.