I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason aren’t working right now. Perhaps your current problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication alone cannot solve all issues. What medication does is treat the symptoms. Our work together is designed to explore the root of the issue, dig deep into your behavior and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.
Medication can be effective and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy. Note that I do not have the authority to prescribe medication myself, but I can work in conjunction with your physician, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner, or refer you to one who can help.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. As far as what you have to do, mainly it’s a matter of reporting your thoughts, feelings, and memories. There may be times we agree on “homework” for you to do between sessions, so letting me know how that is going can help us make adjustments that you may want.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time it takes for you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place. One guideline I can share is that both the individual therapy modality I use and the couple, partner, and family modality I use have associated studies showing that improvement can happen within 10-12 sessions. However, that does not necessarily mean therapy is “done” within that number of sessions, only that measurable improvement occurred within that timeframe.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
I am so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and dedication is crucial to your success. After all, we only see each other for a session a week. It’s the work you do outside of our sessions that will really help you see your personal growth and development. The best things you can do to help are to be as honest as possible in our sessions and to make sincere efforts to complete the “homework” we agree upon between sessions.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
The general rule is that the individual therapist should be different from the couple/partner therapist. The reason is that trust issues can arise if there is a perception that the therapist is more allied with one partner or the other. For this reason, the ideal situation is that each person has an individual therapist and the couple/partners have a different therapist.
I know this seems like a lot of therapists and a lot of therapy, so here’s something to consider: sometimes people will start off with each partner engaging in a little individual therapy on their own first, to get a “lay of the land” so to speak, and to start work on issues that are unique to themselves and their family of origin experience (how they grew up). That way, it’s not a big surprise in couple/partner therapy if we start to talk about, say, a history of depression in your family, or maybe trust issues arising due to your parents’ divorce and your subsequent feelings of abandonment. So once each person has done a little individual work, then the partners can come together for couples work. That’s not always how it goes, but it’s one way to approach it.
Sometimes, people just come to me as partners right off the bat without any individual counseling experience and that is just fine as well if that’s what you prefer and that’s what fits into your schedule and budget.