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. 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
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.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it's 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 not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, 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 with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to 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 progress (or any new insights gained) from 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.
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. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
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 your distress and the behavior patterns that curb your progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
In some cases individuals are grappling with life issues that have a philosophical foundation such as “How do I best live?” or “What’s the meaning of life?” Existential therapy recognizes the human proclivity to speculate about such matters and to strive to reach satisfying conclusions.
What is Lifetrap therapy?
This is a therapeutic approach based on the work of Dr. Jeffrey Young who has identified negative life patterns such as a conditioned-in reflex to put the needs of others above your own, or to hold yourself back in life because of a sense of defectiveness. The book “Reinventing Your Life” by Drs. Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko delineates and explains various lifetraps – again, negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
What is life skills training?
Unfortunately one can complete the rigors of a college education and yet fail to receive any formal instruction in quality-of-life skills such as effective coping, rational thinking, fair fighting, effective communication, and formal problem solving. Life skills counseling addresses these issues, providing clear information and proven recommendations.
How can psychotherapy help with physical pain problems?
Psychological pain management strategies address the reality that thoughts and behaviors can affect the pain experience, and emphasize the role that pain sufferers can play in controlling their own pain and in reducing the perception of pain. For example, thought restructuring may be used to help individuals identify and challenge decidedly unhelpful pain-related thoughts; and formal relaxation and distraction techniques may help individuals break or lessen the grip of pain sensations.
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?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Psychologists are bound by confidentiality, but there are exceptions to confidentiality by law. Specifically:
Duty to warn. When a client discloses intentions to harm another, a mental health professional is required by law to report this to legal authorities.
Duty to protect. If a client discloses an intention to attempt suicide, this must be reported to legal authorities as well.
Abuse of children and vulnerable adults. If a client states or suggests that he or she is abusing a child or a vulnerable adult (such as the mentally ill or the elderly), or has recently abused a child or vulnerable adult, or a child or vulnerable adult is in danger of abuse, a mental health professional is required to report this information to the appropriate social service agency.
Prenatal exposure to controlled substances. Mental health professionals are required to report admitted prenatal exposure to controlled substances that may be harmful to the fetus.
Finally, in order to receive payment from insurance companies and other third-party payers, information is shared with these agencies, including, but not limited to, diagnosis and method of treatment.