Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy
People seek therapy for many different reasons. Some people need help responding to unexpected changes in their lives such as a divorce or family crisis. Many seek the advice of a therapist as they pursue their own personal growth and self-exploration. When people are overwhelmed by anxiety, guilt, doubt, or despair, therapy can help. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy also provides problem-solving skills, support, and enhanced coping for a multitude of issues such as anxiety, depression, anger management, self-esteem issues, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood or ‘family of origin’ issues, and substance use problems. People seeking therapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
During sessions you are encouraged to talk about your primary concerns and issues in your life. A session generally lasts 50 minutes, but some people do request longer sessions. It’s been my experience that weekly sessions are best, especially at first. When people are in crisis or extreme distress, more than one session per week may be scheduled, at least until the crisis passes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. In the time between sessions it is beneficial for you to think about and process what was discussed. At times, you may be asked to complete assignments outside of therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping a journal. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both in and outside of the therapy sessions.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are gained from participating in therapy. Often it is helpful just to know that you’ve been heard, and that someone understands. Therapy can also provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution you hadn’t considered. Many people find therapy to be a tremendous asset to managing interpersonal relationships, family concerns, personal growth, and the hassles of everyday life. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how effectively you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some other benefits you will derive from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications skills – learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you
- Getting “unstuck” from unhealthy patterns – breaking old behaviors and develop new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my own problems.
From time to time, everyone deals with difficult circumstances in life. While you may have successfully navigated through difficulties you’ve faced in the past, there’s nothing wrong with seeking extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize when they need a helping hand–admitting you need help is a strength. By seeking therapy, you are in fact taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change what you can. There are long-lasting benefits of therapy. You begin to know yourself in a deeper way. You learn how to avoid ‘triggers’, avoid unhealthy relationships, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome future challenges.
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’s best for you. It is well established in the research that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Rather than just focusing on and treating the symptom, therapy addresses the root cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that impede progress. Sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being are best achieved with an integrative approach to wellness.
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of communications between a client and a therapist. I will not disclose any information about you, or even acknowledge that you are my client, without your prior written permission. However, there are some of exceptions to this rule. The exceptions are:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person(s). The therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
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