Frequently Asked Questions
How can therapy help me?
Therapy offers many benefits. With the guidance of a skilled therapist, you can learn new problem-solving skills, and coping strategies for issues related to depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, childhood issues, grief, stress, poor body image, developmental transitions and much more. If you are stuck or overwhelmed in any area of your life, or if you are wanting growth and healing, the therapeutic journey can guide you in the direction of new solutions and help you achieve your goals. Ultimately what you gain from therapy depends largely on how you use the process and if you choose to practice what you learn in therapy, outside of your sessions. Some of the benefits of therapy can include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to past and current issues and concerns
- Learning new skills for coping with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, anxiety, depression, and other complicated emotions
- Improved communication and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Improving your self-esteem and self-confidence
- Enhanced insight into your motives and behavior
Clients will benefit most from counseling if they are open and honest about their problems, and committed to getting help. You may find that counseling at times can become difficult or stressful; this is often true when dealing with complicated issues and change. During those challenging times, and as long as therapy is still helping, the client is encouraged to stick with it and keep trying.
How do I know if therapy is for me?
Everyone needs help now and then. There are many reasons why people choose therapy. Perhaps there is an issue in your life that feels overwhelming and the strengths and tools you’ve used in the past are just not working for you this time. Sometimes therapy helps you address long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety, depression, shame or guilt. Other times seeking therapy occurs in response to unexpected changes in life such as a divorce, trauma or transition. Therapy can also be utilized to prevent current issues from escalating, making them more difficult to manage. No matter your issue or concern, therapy is a resource for anyone who is interested in developing greater self-awareness, seeking change, fostering resilience and experiencing an overall sense of well-being.
What’s the difference between talking to you, a good friend, or a trusted family member?
The primary difference between talking to a friend or trusted family member is a therapist has professional training and experience whereas a friend or family member can only offer support and advice. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way by teaching you new skills, offering different perspectives, and listen to you without judgment or expectations. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion or you choose not to follow the advice given to you by your friend or family member, there is the risk of damaging the relationship.
How does therapy work?
Each therapy session focuses on the client’s unique issues and goals. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history, your relationships, your thoughts, emotions and behaviors and address any progress or struggles related to your therapeutic goals. Therapy sessions are 50 minutes and it’s common to schedule a series of weekly sessions. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing concerns. There may be times when you are asked to do “homework” outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain thoughts and behaviors. For therapy to be most effective you are encouraged to be an active participant, both during and between sessions.
There are three fundamental stages of therapy. The first stage focuses on developing a trusting alliance with your therapist. During this period a relationships is forged and treatment goals are defined. In the second phase the emphasis is on exploring and resolving issues, developing self-awareness, and mastering healthy coping skill. The desired outcome of this stage is to become more accepting of yourself, experience a genuine relief of symptoms, and feel more confident about yourself and your ability to cope effectively. The length of this stage varies with each individual client. In the third stage, often referred to as the termination phase the goals are to evaluate your progress, solidify what you have learned, resolve any remaining conflicts, and feel a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment in your life and your relationships. All three phases are essential to your growth and to maintaining your psychological gains.
The therapist’s role in therapy is one of compassion, respect, and support. As the facilitator in the therapeutic process the therapist will empower their clients to look closely at their issues and patterns and guide their clients toward finding their own answers and solutions. This is accomplished by listening and asking effective questions. The therapist will also help you establish your goals, and encourage the use of strengths and resources the client might unknowingly possess. The more motivated and involved you are in your therapy the more you will progress. Psychotherapy can at times evoke anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, loneliness and feelings of dependency. These often unpleasant and difficult emotions can be better understood and resolved with a strong therapeutic alliance. The goal of psychotherapy is not to change you, change is your choice, but to build awareness, compassion, understanding, respect, empathy and acceptance toward yourself and others. Open communication is a necessary component of therapy. Be sure to discuss with your therapist any concerns you have regarding the therapist and the therapeutic process. You will find that an experienced therapist will be receptive to your thoughts and feedback.
If I take medication do I need therapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional issues and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that inhibit our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your therapist you can determine what treatment(s) is best for you. In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and counselor. No information is disclosed or exchanged without prior written permission from the client. However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule.
Exceptions include the following:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
If you have any questions at any time about the confidentiality policy, please let your therapist know.
Pertaining to my practice, I will gladly answer any additional questions you may have. Feel free to email or call me. I look forward to the prospect of working together.