Questions About Therapy
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy: general support; problem-solving skills; enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, and relationship troubles; resolving old childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that a therapist can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the challenges of daily life. Additionally, therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or help you explore possible solutions. The benefits an individual can obtain from therapy depend on client readiness and willingness to put into practice the newly acquired skills.
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 emotions.
- Improving communication and listening skills.
- Changing old behavioral patterns and developing new ones.
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your interpersonal relationships.
- Improving your self-esteem.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you have faced, there is 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 are at in life and making a commitment to self-exploration by seeking therapy. Therapy can provide long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to navigate triggers, re-frame negative thoughts, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you may face.
Why do people go to therapy?
People have many different motivations for going 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 skills to get them 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 explore the challenges in their lives and consider taking steps to improve their lives.
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 reflect on any or new insights gained from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term for a specific issue, or long-term to address more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, scheduling regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly) is generally most beneficial.
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you are in a place in your life that allows you to actively participate in the collaborative 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 your particular behaviors or taking action on 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 cause of one’s distress and the behavioral patterns that curb one’s 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 is 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?
The law protects the relationship between a client and therapist, and information cannot be disclosed without written permission.
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 i.e. 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 past or present 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 threated to harm another person.
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.
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