Q. Why do people enter therapy and is it right for me?
A. People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get you through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
Q. Does what we talk about remain confidential?
A. Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
Q. Do I really need therapy?
A. 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.
Q. How can therapy help?
A. A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. 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
Q. What is therapy like?
A. Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
Q. How does solution-driven change work?
A. Together we’ll examine the challenges in your life and determine whether or not their outcome is in your control. Then we’ll have two options. We can either change the situation, or you can change your responses to the situation.
Some circumstances are not in your control, such as the weather, or an economic recession. It’s also not in your control whether friends or loved ones do or say things that distress you. But you do always have choice over what reactions you select, what thoughts you dwell on, what self-talk you engage in, and what attitudes you adopt. Despite stressful circumstances beyond your control, you can always learn to manage your reactions, both internal (feelings) and external (behavior).
You can always choose to release outcomes and situations in your life that you have no control over, by learning to let go and quit “beating your head against the wall” trying to manage every minute detail to no avail.
Instead, you’ll learn to change what you can, accept what you can’t change, and discover the difference. Surprisingly, releasing and letting go can be the very actions required to bring inner peace and, many times, to turn a challenging situation around.
In so doing, you can learn to quell anxious feelings, restore mental clarity, and learn to pause and regroup when you feel stressed out instead of acting on inaccurate automatic thoughts or self-destructive urges.
Q. What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
A. Medication doesn’t teach you anything; psychotherapy does. It is well established that the long-term solution to behavioral and emotional problems and the heartache they cause, cannot be solved solely through medications. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the cognitive and behavioral patterns that curb our progress. When medication is indicated, I work with a trusted group of psychiatrists who will manage that aspect of your overall care.