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 have faced, there is 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 are at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by changing yourself, whether that is taking necessary steps to challenge maladaptive thinking and behaviors or to learn to create meaning in the discomfort that is sometimes simply a part of life. Therapy can provide long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to more actively engage life face-to-face.
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. Many seek the challenge of therapy as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth because they know they will be asked to look at things from many perspectives instead of being blinded by their current paradigm and biases.
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, 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 they want to see in their lives. Some will schedule a periodic wellness session as they would a massage, dental cleaning, or medical check-up. Good mental health is vital for engaging life.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy, feeling safe and supported while strengthening your problem-solving skills, enhancing coping strategies, and actively engaging emotional discomfort resulting from issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief and loss, or just wanting more out of life.
Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem and help you become more aware of its effect in your life. By truly facing this issue you will be more prepared to make choices on how you want to respond and how your choice may fit into the goal you seek. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process for self-awareness, use of insights, and willingness to engage. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals, and your values
- Engaging life and embodying its experiences
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Learning the value of healthy expressions of emotions
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Appreciating the gifts that can be present within anxiety and depression
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Growing your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
- Challenging yourself to create a new meaning for your existence
How long will therapy take?
Unlike the medical model would suggest, there is no way to place an arbitrary number of sessions to address what you are facing. There are too many contextual factors influencing your situation. I have worked with individuals that just needed a safe place to process a problem they were facing and only needed one session; I have also seen clients for a couple of years. We are individuals that can not be neatly wrapped up under a pre-conceived label.
What we will do is work on getting to know each other in the first few sessions and to see how we connect. The two main factors in predicting positive outcome in therapy are the relationship between client and therapist and what the client is bringing to the table (i.e., resiliency, desire, expectation, effort). My goal is to become unemployed by meeting your needs. Therapy is about you and what you need, and we will take whatever time you need as long as you and I feel our working together is getting you where you want to be.
What is therapy like?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for psychologists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly, fifty-minute sessions, but scheduling is based on client needs. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.
There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions.
For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change, and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect, and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and awareness of emotions
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
Isn’t therapy for people that are messed up?
Therapy has been stigmatized in the past, as well as those using the services. We are inundated with media clips of how they see the use of mental health services. There are some very serious psychopathologies that are dealt with in therapy, but it has been my experience that more of the clients I see are no different than your neighbors or friends, people desiring to make more out of their existence and desiring to engage life more fully.
One of the healthiest behaviors I can think of is becoming aware of something that is not working for us and recognizing that we could use some assistance in making a change. I believe we have all had times in our lives where we have experienced something that was simply too overwhelming to face alone, so we were faced with a choice to supress it, muddle through it, or to reach out for help. It is your life; it is your choice. How will you respond?
Do I have to do homework?
It is not my normal practice to assign homework for clients on a weekly basis, but I will occasionally give a small project that is designed to help facilitate a deeper level of discussion in future sessions. It really depends on the client and the session. Sometimes there is a need to educate a client on a topic he or she does not have much experience with, or it may be to create an opportunity for creating personal awareness outside of the therapy room and throughout the week.
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what is best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems 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 curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.
What if I don’t like the therapist?
Considering that research has shown one of the major predictors of positive outcome in therapy is the relationship between the client and therapist, it is vital to have a good connection. If a problem arises, speak with your therapist first to see if there was a misunderstanding that can be addressed, or if it might be that he or she is triggering something in you that can be brought to awareness and worked with. If you find that the alliance is still not working, you are in charge. Your therapy is about you and your needs. If you find that you are frequently changing therapists, you may want to look deeper at the need for change.
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychologist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The psychologist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If your psychologist believes that you are dangerous to yourself or another person, and it is necessary to take steps to protect you or the safety of others.
- If your psychologist is subpoenaed and ordered to testify in a court of law and their objections are overruled.
- If during a medical emergency your therapist or counselor needs to reveal information that is necessary to protect or insure your health and safety. They can only release that information necessary to protect or insure you health and safety.
- If your psychologist must take action to collect a debt incurred for services, your name and the amount of your debt may be revealed to a collection agent.
- If you are a minor, or a minor that is not emancipated, a psychologist may be required to advise or involve your parents or guardian in your treatment. There are circumstance in which a psychologist is not required to notify the parents of a minor.
If you have any questions, concerns, or confusion regarding your rights to confidentiality, or any potential exception, you should discuss this with your psychologist. At any time during therapy you have the ability to ask for clarification of these exclusions before divulging information.
Do I have to lie down on a couch?
That would be a “no,” although I have had clients that felt more comfortable reclining a bit. Unfortunately, there are many myths and dramatizations created by our friends in Hollywood. The only thing I require is honesty; there is no prize in deceiving me, and it does not help you achieve your goals.
There are times I will ask things that you may not be ready to answer…I get that. What I ask is that you set a boundary with me and say you are not ready to go there yet. Setting boundaries are a healthy part of relationship building that crosses many areas of life, and it is no different in the therapy room.
Do you take Medicaid/Medicare?
Currently, I am accepting Medicare clients but am unable to accept Medicaid clients. However, not all Medicare plans are the same, and you must contact your plan to ensure you are covered for my services. Additionally, if you have Medicaid you have to use a Medicaid provider.
What payment methods do you accept?
Cash, check, and all major credit cards accepted for payment. Services may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. Please check your coverage carefully by asking your insurance carrier the following questions:
- Do I have mental health insurance benefits?
- Can I use an out-of-network provider?
- 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?