Cartoon characterizations of psychological treatment typically involve a client lying tensely on a couch while a poker-faced therapist sits nearby, taking notes. Real treatments for psychological problems rarely fit this image. Hundreds of different treatments exist, including medication, electric shock, and surgery. Some types involve unorthodox and often strange procedures, such as making rapid eye movements.

Talk therapy is another common type of treatment. Therapists vary in their style and approach from client to client, and although some therapists still have their clients lie on couches, most therapists sit face-to-face with them. Some therapists take a relatively passive, listening role in therapy sessions, while others actively discuss problems or even argue with clients. All these treatments have different rationales and varying degrees of success. The type of treatment used and the effectiveness of that treatment sometimes depend as much on the client as on the treatment itself.

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