Common Questions

How do I know if I need therapy?

If you are experiencing ongoing stress and emotional difficulties, and the things you have already tried don’t seem to be bringing about the changes you had hoped for, then pursuing therapy is a good choice. Therapy can also be the direction to take even if you are not experiencing acute symptoms, but want to address aspects of your life that aren’t what you would like them to be.

What are the benefits of therapy?

The benefits of therapy are many, but here are a few examples:

• Therapy can provide you with tools and techniques to overcome anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.

• Therapy can help you better cope with your emotions, which at times may feel overwhelming.

• Therapy can help you change negative patterns of thinking.

• Therapy can give you a better perspective on how you see yourself and others.

• Therapy allows you to verbalize your feelings in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

• Therapy can help you untangle a problem and figure out how to solve it.

• Therapy has been shown to bring about change on a brain level; that is, psychotherapy can alter and improve the activity in areas of your brain that are associated with emotions and fears.

• Therapy can decrease stress and improve the overall quality of your life.

How is therapy different from talking with a good friend?

While a good friend who listens and understands is a very important source of support and caring, the discussions you will have with a therapist are quite different. Here are some examples of the ways they are different:

• A therapist is trained to look at behavior and relationship patterns.

• A therapist will help you to discover the conflicts or contradictions in your life that are affecting your well-being.

• A therapist is not simply giving you advice based on his/her own life experience as a friend might, but is trained to objectively help you find the right answers for your unique situation.

• A therapist helps you identify and clarify your issues and concerns.

• A therapist is trained to work with a variety of factors that might be complicating your situation, such as, trauma, addiction, and depression.

What happens in the first session?

The first session involves filling out some paperwork and then beginning to discuss with me what your concerns are and what is bringing you into therapy. It is a time for you to ask me any questions you might have about my approach or the therapy process in general. I will be asking questions of you, as I listen and begin to understand the nature and history of your problem. The first session is our chance to begin to get to know one another. It is vital that you feel safe, listened to, and understood by your therapist. In fact, it is a good idea to interview more than one therapist when you decide to seek therapy. Research has shown that a “good match” between client and therapist is a predictor of treatment success. While it is certainly normal to feel somewhat uncomfortable during your first session, you should still feel a sense of safety and beginning trust with me. If you are not feeling that way in our first session, or if I feel, after listening to your situation, that I am not the best therapist to provide the help you need, we will talk about referrals to someone else. If we decide to work together, then we will schedule the next appointment.

How long does therapy take?

There is no one answer to this question. It depends on the length of time the problem has existed and the severity of that problem. Keep in mind that people grow, heal, and change at different rates. Sometimes, desired progress can be made in as little as eight to twelve sessions. Other times, there are long standing problems that may require several months or years to fully resolve. It’s a good idea to talk with your therapist every so often to review how things are going, how you are feeling about the therapy, and your progress toward meeting your goals.