Is therapy right for me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes, it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times, it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Sometimes parents would like a safe place for their adolescents to deal with difficult social issues. Many seek the advice of a counselor as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face, and having someone there to help you figure out which direction to move in is a privilege.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhancing coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, and address past traumatic events or simply provide a safe environment for feeling exploration. Many people also find that therapists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can help offer a different perspective on situations and help you sift through your own thoughts and feelings. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that let you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly), where each session lasts about 45-50 minutes.
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
- Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
- If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.
When working with children and adolescents, confidentiality needs to be handled sensitively so that the child feels safe and the family can be aware of the issues that are being addressed.
What about medication and/or psychotherapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor, you can determine what the best course of action is for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause can not be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Choosing to take medication is a very personal choice. However, it is not a requirement to make progress in therapy!
I am not licensed to prescribe medication. I will always take an active interest in what medications you take and at what dose. My treatment will not be complete without doing this. However you need to clear any changes in your medications, with your medical doctors in advance.
This is especially true in considering whether to stop medication abruptly, or whether to decrease or increase a dosage, as opposed to phasing out a medication, or to changing a dosage slowly over time. Abrupt changes to medications can be very dangerous and I strongly advise patients to never stop taking their medication as directed until discussing the implications with their physician in person, and until then, it is very important that patients remain on whatever medications currently prescribed.
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Services may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. Please check your coverage carefully.