Is therapy right for me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, problems with difficult or negative moods, or issues with negative patterns of behavior (e.g., addictive or co-dependent behaviors). Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addictive behaviors, conflict, trauma, grief, chronic stress, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
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 previous difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy seems to work better for people who possess the self-awareness to realize that, periodically, they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life, and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support. It can offer the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, process and work through difficult and traumatic experiences, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that psychologists can be a tremendous asset in their efforts to manage 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 help you identify and remain on the "paths" leading to the solutions you seek. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you collaborate with your therapist, 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 communication 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
What is therapy like?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. During times of elevated crisis or stress, therapists will often provide additional support by offering more frequent appointments. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change, and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with a medical doctor with expertise in psychopharmacology, you can determine what's best for you. 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.
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
- In cases of suspected child abuse, dependent adult or elder abuse, or if I have a reasonable suspicion that you have knowingly developed, duplicated, printed, downloaded, streamed, accessed through any
electronic or digital media, or exchanged, a film, photograph,
videotape, video recording, negative, or slide in which a child (under
the age of 18) is engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct, I am
legally mandated to report this suspected abuse to the appropriate
agency. (CA Penal Code Sec 11165.1).
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police and do everything in their power to warn the intended victim(s).
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
- Other exceptions to confidentiality may occur, depending on your circumstances.