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've faced, there's 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're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Working with your medical doctor 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.
Are My Counseling Sessions 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.
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- 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.
What makes therapy successful?
In short, you make therapy successful. If you don’t take responsibility for your own mental health, there isn’t much a therapist can do. Practically, this means:
- Take therapy seriously, as if it is a class you want to get an “A” in it by doing the assignments the therapist assigns you.
- Think about the session and what you and your therapist have talked about outside of the session.
- Get family members or friends involved in your therapy experience, by talking about your sessions and assignments and tell them what they can do to help/support you.
- Keep a journal, writing down times when you feel like you have “slipped up” or when you feel like you are making progress, and keep it in mind to talk about with your therapist.
- Be patient–sometimes the most “productive” therapy session or time while your are in therapy is when you feel frustrated, uncomfortable, or even depressed.
- Do one nice thing for yourself a day, and take one day a month to do something “just for you.”
- Remember, therapy is hard work and can cause discomfort and even growing pains however, the rewards can be invaluable.
How can therapy help me? What can therapy bring to my relationship?
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 management, body image issues and creative blocks.
Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing 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. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you 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 communications 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 Can I Expect At My First Therapy Session?
In your first session, the therapist typically will ask certain questions about you and your life. This information helps him make an initial assessment of your situation. Questions he might ask include:
Why you sought therapy. A particular issue probably led you to seek counseling. The therapist has to understand your surface problem(s) before he can get to the deeper issues.
Your personal history and current situation. The therapist will ask you a series of questions about your life. For example, because family situations play an important role in who you are, he’ll ask about your family history and your current family situation.
Your current symptoms. Other than knowing the reason you sought therapy, the therapist will attempt to find out if you’re suffering from other symptoms of your problem. For example, your problem might be causing difficulty at work.
The therapist will use this information to better understand your problem. And, while he may make a diagnosis at the end of your first visit, it’s more likely that a diagnosis will take a few more sessions.
Don’t just sit there
Therapy is a team effort. If you don’t take an active part in the session, you won’t find the counseling experience valuable. Here are some things you can do to make your first session as successful as possible.Be open. Therapists are trained to ask the right questions, but they’re not mind readers. The therapist can do his job more effectively if you answer the questions openly and honestly.
Be prepared. Before you get to the session, know how to describe “what’s wrong,” and to describe your feelings about your problem. One way to prepare is to write down the reasons you’re seeking help. Make a list and then read it out loud. Hearing yourself say it a few times will help you describe things more clearly to the therapist.
Ask questions. The more you understand the counseling experience or how counseling works, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the therapist to repeat anything you don’t understand.
Be open and honest about your feelings. A lot will be going through your head in this first session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the therapist. You’ll both learn from these insights.
Be sure to go to your first session with realistic expectations. Therapy is not a quick fix for your problem, rather it is a process. With some effort on your part and a strong relationship with your therapist, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.