How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists provide emotional support, problem-solving skills, and teach coping strategies for issues like depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, parenting struggles, grief, stress management, body image issues and addictions. Many people also find that therapists can be a tremendous help with one's 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. Your success with therapy depends on how you use the process and put into practice what you learn.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have made it 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 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.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have different motivations for coming to therapy. Some may be going through a major life transition such as unemployment, divorce, new job, moving, new baby, or a death in the family. Other people need assistance with building self-esteem, managing depression, anxiety, addictions, or relationship problems. Some are dealing with spiritual conflicts or creative blocks. Therapists are non-judgmental and can provide encouragement and practical help with skills to get through these challenging time periods. Some people come to therapy needing a partner to guide them as they learn more about themselves and how to be more effective moving toward their life goals.
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 new insights from the previous therapy session. Depending on your needs, therapy can be short-term to deal with a specific problem, or longer-term to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for personal changes. You and your therapist will discuss the frequency of sessions. Often attending weekly or every-other-week sessions achieves the desired results.
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 book, writing on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking small action steps toward your goals.
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 root cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that limit our progress. An integrative approach to wellness involves meeting with your medical doctor to determine what's best for you. 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. The therapist provides a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. If you want your therapist to share information or give an update to your physician or another individual, you can sign a release to permit communications. By law, your therapist cannot release any information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
- If there is suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, or elderly persons, a report must be made to the appropriate authorities (child protection and/or 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, the therapist has a duty to warn and to protect.