Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
How can therapy help me?
- 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
I expect in therapy?
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. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually 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, your therapist 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.
How can an evaluation help me?
Evaluations can be informal assessments made during the therapy intake (initial therapy session), or they can be formal assessments that involve the administration of comprehensive psychological tests. In this case, an evaluation refers to the formal and comprehensive assessment of the psychological functioning of an individual.
Many people seek evaluations to identify specific psychological diagnoses, such as autism or asperger's, mental retardation, ADHD, dyslexia or other learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, etc. An evaluation may also describe one's learning style, cognitive/intellectual strengths, problem-solving ability, memory and attention, stress tolerance, and/or general adjustment problems. Identifying such diagnoses or problems is a critical step in developing an appropriate treatment plan, and an evaluation can help determine what type of treatment would be most effective or beneficial.
What can I expect on the day of my evaluation?
The evaluation will start with a structured diagnostic interview with the client (and parents/guardians, if minor) and often includes questions about the problem at hand and current life stressors as well as family history, birth and development history, medical history and social/emotional history. A variety of standardized questionnaires may be used to identify specific psychological symptoms. Additional standardized assessments will be administered to the client one-on-one to further assess the reported problem(s). Such an evaluation may range from 3 to 6 hours or even multiple days, depending on the problem(s) being assessed. Results from all assessment measures will be scored, interpreted and integrated with the information provided from the interview into a written report. *Please note this process may take 2-4 weeks. A follow-up appointment will then be scheduled to thoroughly review your results and discuss recommendations.
Does what we talk about 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 is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”.
Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team, such as your physician or attorney, but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, most state laws and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.