Why go to a therapist?

Not all therapy experiences are alike, nor should they be. In this FAQ I explain in detail the various types of therapy and people who give therapy, but to simply answer this question, the question I would ask you is: What do you want out of therapy?

Going to a therapist can be a worthwhile growing and stabilizing experience, good for times when you have specific problems, interpersonal problems, or generally feeling down. You can go to a therapist once, for a few months or embark on long-term therapy–each depends on different expectations and goals.

The time when most people tend to go to a therapist is during a crisis: after love ones have died, breaking up in relationships, if you are in danger or have been harmed in some way. Sometimes, this entails only having a short visit, in which the therapist uses crisis counseling. The point in this case is not to uncover any underlying motivations. Sometimes, however, people go into a therapist's office with a crisis and find that there are things that underlie it that you want to uncover or work on. At this point it is the path to psychotherapy.

Another time that is common for people to go a therapist is for specific non-crisis problems, such as insomnia, procrastination, low grades, or even feeling depressed. But one thing to keep in mind though is that your problem might be like a symptom. This might also lead you to psychotherapy.

Finally, what used to be the most common type of therapy is personal psychotherapy, to work on psychological problems. These are problems which need a more in depth analysis than counseling would provide. Psychotherapy is often a long-term commitment. This is the topic that is best had with a therapist you are considering going to.

You don't need to have a "major" problem to go to a therapist. Just feeling unable to deal with your problem or feeling unhappy makes you a good therapy candidate.

    What do I ask to determine if the therapist is a good match?

The first visit is where you get to assess the therapist and they get to give you an "in-take" interview. They will differ in what information they need to know from you, but it is important that you have in mind what you want them to tell you. Here are my suggestions of things to say or ask:

    Tell them why you want to be in therapy, and then ask them if this fits their training or interests.
    Ask them what kind of therapy they suggest, how long they would want to do therapy, how much it costs, up front. Compare this with your preferences and needs.
    Pay close attention to how you feel–it is normal for you to feel a little uncomfortable or nervous. Sharing personal information can be nerve-racking. However, do you feel like you would be unable to trust them? Tell them your feelings and ask them how they would deal with it if they were your therapist.

    Should I choose a male or female therapist?

Many people have asked me this question, and I have always been wary of answering this with a either/or answer. I try to emphasize the trust factor, so I am more likely to suggest the gender in which you would feel most trusting with.

And also have in mind research data which revealed that gender, race, nationality, clase or age of therapist matters only in first 10-20 sessions.

    What makes therapy successful?

In short, you make therapy successful. Each person is different and brings in different expectations, talents and experiences into the therapy relationship. However, despite the fact that you are the determining factor in whether therapy is successful, many people think of therapy as if it is a doctor/patient relationship. They see success in therapy to be something outside of their control. Other people can't even define what success in therapy means. If you don't take responsibility for your own mental health, there isn't much a therapist can do. Practically, this means:

    Taking therapy seriously, as if it is a class you want to get an "A" in 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 you.
    Be patient–sometimes the most "productive" therapy session or time while your are in therapy is when you feel frustrated or even depressed.
    Remember, therapy is hard work, but the rewards can be invaluable.

    How long can I expect to be in therapy?

  The length of therapy varies according to the nature, duration, intensity, and frequency of symptoms or problems.  We offer 50-minute sessions, and typically recommend that clients come once per week at least until we get to know one another and develop a treatment plan.  Some clients only come to a few sessions and others come for a year or more.  You and your therapist will decide together what may be the best course of treatment for you.

    What are the benefits of therapy?

   The benefits of therapy have been shown by scientists in hundreds of well-designed research studies.  People who are depressed may find their mood lifting.  Others may no longer feel afraid, angry, or anxious.  In therapy, people have a chance to talk things out fully until their feelings are relieved or the problems are solved.  Clients’ relationships and coping skills may improve greatly.  They may get more satisfaction out of social and family relationships.  Their personal goals and values may become clearer.  They may grow in many directions as people – in their close relationships, in their work or academics, and in the ability to enjoy their lives.  If you have any concerns about how therapy is going, we encourage you to discuss these concerns with your therapist at any time during your work together.

    Why do I need a therapist? Why can’t I just talk to a friend or a family member?

A friend or family member is not professionally trained to help you grow and change. It's likely that your friends and family have been giving you their best advice for some time now, and if it were sufficient, you probably wouldn't be reading this. But here is why your friend's advice is different from a therapist‘s interventions. Your friends want to maintain your friendship so they will probably tell you what they want to hear. Also, they will give advice that is based on their life’s experience. A trained therapist is interested in helping you find your own answers by helping you connect with what is true and right for you.

    How will I know if you are the right therapist for me?

You really need to meet me face-to-face in order to get a good idea of what I’m like as a person and as a professional. At our first meeting you should keep these questions in mind:

    How easy is it to talk?
    Does she seem like somebody I could trust?
    Is he/she really listening to me?
    Does he/she seem to know what he/she is doing?
    Does he/she seem confident and competent?

 What are the effectiveness of therapy?

Findings about therapy effectiveness demonstrated in numerous studies.:

    Psychotherapy produced positive effects in 92% of respondents
    The longer people stayed in therapy, the better their results.
    People that were active in therapy did better than those that were passive.

    What is the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and psychotherapists?

A psychiatrist is a physician and has been uniquely trained in prescribing psychotropic medication.

A psychologist has a Ph.D. or Master degree and has been trained in counseling and psychological testing.
A psychotherapist is psychologist or psychiatrist who graduated from approved by teaching institutions postgradual training in psichotherapy, which lasts 4 or more years, consists of about 3000 hours of various parts of the training.It is important to understand their training, degree, and license(s) and certification.

    What if I don't know what my goals are for therapy?

If you aren't sure what your goals are for therapy, your first task is to figure that out. It may take several sessions before a direction is clarified. During the course of therapy your goals may change.

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