General Questions About Counseling
How do I know if I need therapy?
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have dealt effectively with some issues in the past, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. Therapy is for people who have enough insight to realize they need assistance, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility for your personal well being by accepting where you are at in life and making a commitment to improving your current situation. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support by giving you the tools you need to avoid emotional triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you are confronted with.
How can therapy help me?
Participating in psychotherapy can provide many benefits. Therapists can offer support, problem-solving skills, and strategies for improved coping on issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, and conflict resolution. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous assistance in managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. 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 your values
- Developing improved relationship skills
- Finding solutions to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other difficult emotions
- Improving communication 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
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from you. However, there are some exceptions required by law. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent 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 ordered by a judge to release your records or testify in court. This does not include subpoenas from attorneys.
What is therapy like?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. Your first session is usually the longest (approximately 75 minutes) as I learn about you and your presenting issues. Subsequent sessions typically last for 50-60 minutes and occur on a weekly basis. Frequency can depend on your needs, however, and can be bi-weekly or even once a month. 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 work on issues outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what is learned in the therapy environment and generalize 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 should be 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
- Assistance in identifying persistent maladaptive patterns and negative feelings
- Useful strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Is therapy right for me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Often it is to work on problems with anxiety or depression and sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues. Other times it is in response to unexpected transitions in one’s life such as a change in employment or divorce. Many are seeking advice 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 is appropriate for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change.
Do I need to take medication?
Not necessarily. Not every client is in need of medication and many don’t take any at all. However, individuals with certain diagnoses such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia often take medication as it is the most effective treatment. Many individuals who are taking medication also benefit from counseling. For example, clients with severe depression may benefit from an antidepressant medication as it may lift their mood and allow them to more fully participate in counseling.