Is therapy right for me?
There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues. Other times it is in response to sudden changes such as divorce, job loss or health issues. Therapy is right for many people for many reasons. Therapy is a place to get support and process information while you figure out what you want to make of your life. Do I really need therapy? Everyone goes through challenging situations in life and there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra help when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize that they want help. It can provide long-lasting benefits by giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns and learn to be resilient.
How can therapy help me?
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 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 issues
- Improving communication and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Increasing your self-esteem and boosting your self-confidence
What are the risks associated with therapy? The primary risk associated with therapy is an unexpected result. We can't always predict how therapy will reshape our lives. 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. 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 must be 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? Medication is not a substitute for therapy. Medication can help some people jump start change by treating disabling symptoms of depression, anxiety, poor sleep, inattention and mood shifts. 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. Medication can be a valuable part of a treatment plan.
Why don't you accept insurance? In 1990, when I first began seeing patients in private practice, I accepted all forms of health insurance. Mental health insurance typically covered 80% of the cost of treatment while the patient covered the remaining 20%. With the advent of managed care, insurance companies decided to limit patient access to therapists of their choice. They only provided reimbursement for plan therapists and they regulated fees. This was called capitation. What I found over time was that insurance companies were increasing the amount of paperwork and instituting a level of oversight that provided a cost savings to them at the expense of the services provided to my patients. After ten years, I made the decision not to accept insurance so that I could provide a sliding scale for patients based on my own criteria. This enabled me to see more clients at a rate affordable to them. Is therapy confidential? In general, the law protects the confidentiality of communication between a client and psychotherapist. However, there are some exceptions to this rule required by law. These exceptions include:
- In cases of suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse there is an exception to the confidential communication between a therapist and a patient.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person there is an exception to the confidential communication between a therapist and a patient.
- If a client intends to do imminent hard to themselves there is an exception to the confidential communication between a therapist and a patient.
- If the patient is the subject of litigation where his mental health is being examined by the court there is an exception to the confidential communication between a therapist and a patient.
- If the court mandates therapy there is an exception to the confidential communication between a therapist and a patient.
It is appropriate to discuss all issues that pertain to confidential communication so that you clearly understand how you privacy may be affected by the information you share in treatment.