A: Therapy is an opportunity to discuss/talk about issues that are important to the client, while having a trained objective person (Therapist) help work through not only the current situation but in dealing with similar situations in the future. Therapy can be about one specific problem, or it can be about multiple issues. Therapy is a collaborative event; it requires an active role from both the client and the therapist for change to occur.
Q: Why do people come to therapy?
A: People see a therapist for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes an event occurs that causes an individual to seek out help, while for others, they may attend therapy because it provides a trained objective person to help them work through some issues they may have been struggling with for years. Counseling can be beneficial because a client may feel a sense of control in their life and have the tools to be able to make better decisions or changes in their life.
Q: How can therapy help me?
A: There are numerous benefits to therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem solving skills and coping strategies for a wide range of issues. Therapists, being objective, can provide a different or a fresh perspective on a problem that you have been struggling with. Benefits of therapy depend on your commitment and level of readiness. Some benefits can include, boosting self confidence or improving self esteem, improving communication skills, learning/finding new coping skills, attaining a better understanding of yourself, changing old patterns and developing new ones, or managing your emotional feeling such as sadness, anger or other highly charged emotions you may be feeling.
Q: How long is therapy?
A: Individual therapy sessions are typically 45-50 minutes. Clients typically meet on a weekly or bi weekly basis depending on the client’s needs. Length of time while in therapy will depend on the individual client’s circumstance. The therapist and client will determine that together.
Q: What will the first session look like?
A: The initial session will be an initial assessment to discuss the client’s history and needs for treatment. During this first session the client will have the opportunity to see how therapy will work, review office policies, privacy and confidentiality, as well as determine whether or not they are comfortable with the therapist. It is important to have a positive working relationship with your therapist and it is recommended that the client and therapist meet 2-3 times before deciding whether or not the relationship will continue. Please discuss any concerns you have with your therapist around the relationship. Likewise, if the therapist does not feel she is a good fit for you, your therapist will provide you with referrals of specialists or trusted colleagues that might be better to work with you.
Q: Are therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists the same?
A: Counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists share one important responsibility: providing psychotherapy and counseling to people in need. Professionals in all three fields support people with emotional problems, assist those suffering from mental health disorders, provide counseling to families, individuals, couples and groups and perform crisis intervention when needed. Counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists are trained in assessment and diagnosis of mental health disorders and have undergone extensive training in a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions and counseling techniques.
Psychologists are also able to provide additional psychological services, such as administering psychological or diagnostic tests.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who complete specialized training in psychiatry. Because psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors, they are able to prescribe medication. While psychiatrists are trained and qualified to provide psychotherapy, most specialize in pharmacotherapy and medication management.
*Adapted from Psychology Today
MYTH: People who seek therapy are weak, mentally ill, or crazy.
FACT: Untrue. While there may have been a stigma in the past, today seeking treatment is often viewed as a sign of resourcefulness. The average therapy client struggles with many of the same problems we all struggle with daily: relationships, self-doubt, confidence, self-esteem, work-life stress, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.
MYTH: Therapists sit behind desks taking notes while you lie on a couch.
FACT: This is rarely the case. Trained clinicians know that the arrangement and distance between them and the client are critical for a safe and workable therapeutic alliance. Psychological or physical separation from the client can create subtle authority and intimidation and an inability on the client’s part to fully connect and disclose information pertinent to treatment. The typical therapeutic setting is much like your living room where both parties sit in comfortable chairs without barriers between them. With the exception of the initial appointment, most therapists refrain from taking notes until after the session so they can be present with clients.
MYTH: Psychotherapy is mostly just talk.
FACT: Therapy is not passive. Although therapy can be depicted as therapists just listening to clients vent, nodding their heads in approval, and mirroring back the same words, these are stereotypes. With today’s cutting-edge therapies, clinicians are trained in experiential and therapist-led modalities that engage both parties in an interactive collaborative process based on dialogue and the client’s active engagement in joint problem-solving. Together, therapists and clients identify problems, set goals, and monitor progress sometimes with homework and reading assignments as part of the process.
MYTH: Therapists have ready-made solutions for all of their client's problems.
FACT: What is important in establishing the therapist-client alliance is not what the therapist thinks is important to bring about change but what the client thinks is important. A good therapist tailors treatment sessions around the needs of clients instead of plugging clients into ready-made formulas. In so doing, clinicians listen not just to the content of the story but for deeper themes and patterns, This allows the professional to mirror feedback based on these emerging themes and patterns that can facilitate change, not just the repetitive words and phrases that clients supply.
MYTH: Therapist blame a client’s problem on their upbringing.
FACT: Although this is also often portrayed, a well-trained therapist does not blame or shame. They do not blame clients or their parents. They bring an objective, bird’s-eye perspective to help clients and allow them to take responsibility for their lives. Professional therapists never admonish, blame, or shame clients into change.
MYTH: Psychotherapy can solve problems in one or two sessions.
FACT: While convenient for the novel or television show to have a character “fixed” in a session or two, it does not work that way in real life. The average session is around 50 minutes and the first session is an intake and getting acquainted session. To get to the heart of a problem, psychotherapy likely will take several sessions over time although some clients benefit greatly from a handful of sessions; however, there is not a magic number of sessions.