How can therapy help me?
Therapy helps people in a variety of ways. It holds up a mirror to your life and helps you gain new vision in what you can change, it provides a safe place to explore what events in your life led you to the here and now so you can see patterns that you may wish to alter, it helps you discover what's "yours" in your life and what belongs to a larger system or culture. (There is a very long history for people of color, Queer people, women and many others in which we have been called crazy when we were just being humans reacting to oppression.) Therapy often helps untangle traumatic responses in the present that are impacting your life. In short, people come to therapy because something needs care and attention. Often, people come because they want something to change. In some circumstances people come to therapy because something in life has become so painful they want and need a place to be seen and heard without being "fixed" or told to "get over it."
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Some people love coming to therapy while others find it a difficult process. If whatever is bothering you has led you to this page, it's likely worth asking a professional if therapy will help. If what you are struggling with right now has made your life smaller- you don't go to work as much or cannot work at all, you feel less joy, or none whatsoever, you experience painful past events as if they are happening now, anxiety prevents you from leaving your house or spending time with people you care about, substance use is out of control or feels less than manageable, you think about dying frequently, you self injure, you rage and rage, people who care about you have expressed concerns- it's time to reach out.
What is therapy like?
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.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
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.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.