How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. 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. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Psychotherapy can help you:
Attain a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Develop skills for improving your relationships
Learn new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Manage anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improve communication and listening skills
Change old behavior patterns and develop new ones
Discover new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improve your self-esteem and boost your self-confidence
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. 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.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are having difficulty handling stressful circumstances. 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 help with 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 in their relationships or with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges and make changes in 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 report on progress or difficulties since the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly or bi-weekly).
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, I 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 particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
Both medication and psychotherapy can be effective in helping people feel better. I will facilitate a referral to a psychiatrist or other prescriber if I determine it's necessary or if medication is something you wish to consider. Many people can and do improve in psychotherapy alone, without the use of medication, so I will thoughtfully help determine what is best for you, given your situation as well as the current research.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
If my provider isn't in my plan, how much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
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 may not be discussed anywhere but the therapy office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidentiality and consent agreement, and you can expect that, in general, what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want me to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team. By law, I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission. The other limit to confidentiality you should know about concerns insurance providers. Your insurance company or other third-party payer may request information about your treatment, and according to the terms of your coverage, I must provide them with the information they request. This may include: type of service, date/time of service, diagnosis, treatment plan, description of impairment, progress of therapy, updates and treatment summaries. Whenever possible, the minimum amount of information will be provided.
Finally, state law and professional ethics require psychologists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, vulnerable adults, and elders, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources. In this case I have a duty to report suspected abuse or neglect to Child Protection and possibly law enforcement.
* If I have reason to suspect that my client is seriously in imminent danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person, I must alert authorities and the person s/he has threatened.
I'm a teenager and live with my parents. Will you talk with them about what we discuss in therapy?
If you are under 18, your parents or legal guardian/s do have a right to receive general information about how your treatment is progressing. I will do my best however to keep the specific content and integrity of our communications confidential. If I do need to speak to your parents about something substantive, I will make every effort to consult with you first to address any concerns you may have.