Psychotherapy: Have you ever wondered why you engage in certain behaviors? Do you tend to reach for self-help books to understand how you function? Have you ever wanted to know the purpose of emotions? Do you want to understand your thoughts and how to change them? Do you have the desire to be happy and healthy but are not sure how? Psychotherapy is an interaction between therapist and individual whereby words and scientifically validated techniques are used to develop healthy thoughts and behaviors. The process of change occurs over time as a result of the relationship and collaborative team effort. A therapist provides a compassionate listening ear that is neutral and nonjudgmental. A good therapist does not give advice and tell you what to do. Instead, a therapist asks the right questions which leads you to view aspects of your life in a different way. In turn, this can provide better understanding and clarity to make appropriate changes. Psychotherapy also involves teaching effective strategies to deal with unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Given that therapy encompasses a short amount of time in a full week, it is not unusual for therapists to prescribe an assignment to be completed outside of the session. While a given treatment session may be full of enrichment, learning, and working through challenges, the majority of work is done by you outside of the session. The real change occurs when you apply what you have learned about yourself and your life in therapy to the outside of treatment. After all, it is believed that you have within you everything needed to be successful, healthy and happy. A therapist can teach you how to use the tools you have, and how to strengthen your skills. Psychotherapy is about reaching your full potential and accessing your innate, inner wisdom and strength.
First Session: In the first session, you will be welcomed into a serene room where you will have the option of settling into a sofa or chair. The treatment room is developed to be comfortable, private, and a safe space. If you are feeling nervous or anxious about your first time in therapy, or working with a new therapist, it is okay. Tell the therapist so he or she can talk with you about the feeling. The purpose of the first session is to answer any questions you have. Also, just like when you see a medical doctor, the therapist will also ask questions to determine what has led to your visit. This is your opportunity to say whatever you would like. Discuss bodily sensations, life struggles, successes, challenges, and goals. There isn't a set agenda beyond the initial information gathering and what you bring to therapy. If you enter therapy and say, "These are my struggles. These are my goals. These are my expectations", the therapist will guide you how to accomplish it. If you are not sure of your goals, the therapist will help define them. To summarize, the first session will be spent gathering information by you and the therapist.
Duration: An individual session lasts for 55 minutes. Sessions are conducted at least once a week in order to maintain the therapeutic relationship and enhance outcome. However, some clients choose to come more often. The frequency of therapy sessions can be discussed with your therapist. With regard to how long you can expect to attend therapy, it depends on the individual, therapy goals, and the pace of treatment. Some clients may spend years in therapy to delve into self discovery and insight. Lindsey’s rule of thumb is to complete session six, seven, or eight and then reevaluate. When working with parents of an adolescent, 75 minute sessions may be offered to give sufficient time to all attending parties.
Shopping for a Therapist: Unless you have found someone with clearly demonstrated competence and who has the skills to work with your presenting issues or challenges, shop around. You are a consumer looking to pay for a service offered by an individual so it is important to see that your needs fit what the therapist is offering. Ask questions, especially if you are new to the therapy process. It is your time in session so feel free to also take time to find a therapist with who you will be compatible. Last, keep in mind you are never stuck. Once you begin therapy, if at any time you are not comfortable with the therapist, tell him or her exactly what you are experiencing. Talking about your experience can enrich the therapeutic process. Or, both you and the therapist may agree that you would be better served by another treatment provider. Ultimately, it is about what is most beneficial for you.
Therapist or Friend: A therapist is not a friend; a friend is not a therapist. The difference between the two rests in the concept of boundaries, which is allowing an individual to be himself or herself. A therapist is paid to provide scientifically validated treatment and technique to help bring understanding to your current situation, thoughts, or behavior rather than speaking from personal experience. A therapist is bound by the ethics of the field to keep information private and confidential (within limits which will be discussed). A therapist can provide support, information, and help interpret thoughts, feelings, and actions. A friend may have personal interest or motives invested and share personal opinions. A friend might provide a bias opinion based upon the degree to which he or she knows you. Therapists are trained in the unconscious, brain functioning, theory, and attention to reactions, which are for the purposes of successful treatment.
Therapy Benefits: It is usually helpful to have somebody who really does understand you. Therapy may give you a fresh perspective on a difficult problem and direct you towards a solution. Benefits of therapy include: replacing irrational thoughts with healthy, healing thoughts; sharpening skills for improving relationships; strengthening sense of worth and self confidence; replacing unhealthy behaviors with new, healthy behaviors; gaining information about a family member who may be struggling and ways to help him or her; being able to understand yourself and clearly identify personal goals and values; getting out of a rut when you feel stuck in life; obtaining solutions to a problem or concern; experiencing physical health and well-being through mental health and clarity.
Therapy Disadvantages: Unlike taking a prescription to cure you of an ailment, therapy takes time and work. Part of the transformational process may involve reliving unpleasant experiences or emotions in order to gain strength, enlightenment, clarity, and growth. Right before a breakthrough, it is also very common to feel like you are regressing or not benefitting from therapy, and then you have the "aha!" moment.