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 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.
There are many myths about therapy. For example people think therapists are only interested in their childhood and don't think it is relevant. I believe we go only as far in the past as we need to. Why excavate deeper than necessary? We will start with your life now, what recent event made you make the call for an appointment, a question I normally ask in your first session.But sometimes it is necessary and relevant. Your childhood is like the software on your computer, only it has never been updated, it can keep you doing the same things over and over again, stuck in certain mind sets and ways of problem solving. With trauma we need to go back to time of the trauma, and possibly back to the first traumatic event in your life.
Another myth is that therapists are only interested in money and will keep you in therapy as long as possible. If it was money therapists are into they would have chosen another profession because this one really doesn't pay that well. We go into this field because we want to help people, we have done as many as 3,000 unpaid hours of internship and in may cases more than that. Besides your insurance company will not allow us to keep you in therapy, they call us and question us on whether the treatment is still "medically necessary" which means we have justify why you are still in therapy or they will stop paying us. To me when we start running out of things to talk about it is a sign we are nearing the end at which time I will space out sessions to every other week to make sure before we end that the changes you have made are stable.
It takes courage to look at yourself and make a decision you need to grow and make changes, learn new skills and face yourself and your life issues including traumatic memories. In terms of trauma I have seen at times a great deal of growth in a very short time, even one session has given some people a great relief to find out they have post traumatic stress disorder and they are not going nuts. That it is highly treatable and that they can live a much happier life. Sometimes people make an appointment and become very anxious about it, and then do not show up after which they feel relieved. This can turn into a pattern of avoidance. Then they go along for a while again until it becomes worse and repeat the pattern. This is especially so in trauma therapy. There is already avoidance which is one of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. (see below the section on trauma therapy.)
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. Two of the most important roles in life are being a spouse and a parent. Unfortunately they don't come with instruction manuals. Generally we go into these roles without preparation, and our default mode is to follow the only examples we have which are our parents. If our parents had poor relationship or parenting skills then we repeat them because that is all we know. Many people come into therapy saying, "I told myself I would never do what my parents did, but I find when I open my mouth my mother's voice and words are coming out."
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to 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 values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution 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 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?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. 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. If you have never been in therapy it is a little like thinking out loud. In order to get the most out of therapy sometimes you will be given homework to do between sessions. We have a saying, "The most important part of therapy is what happens between sessions."
- 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