Is therapy right for me? 

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 a counselor 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.

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.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy.  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:

  • 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 your self-confidence

What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals.  It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions.  It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts forty-five minutes.  Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.  There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors.  It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions.  For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor can determine what’s best for you.  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 our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress.  You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Who Belongs in a Therapy Group? 

Individuals that share a common problem or concern are often placed in therapy groups where they can share their mutual struggles and feelings.  Groups for bulimic individuals, victims of sexual abuse, adult children of alcoholics, and recovering drug addicts are some types of common therapy groups.

Individuals that are suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, or in the midst of a major life crisis are not typically placed in group therapy until their behavior and emotional states have stabilized.  People with organic brain injury and other cognitive impairments may also be poor candidates for group therapy, as are patients with sociopathic traits, who show little ability to empathize with others.

How Are Therapy Groups Constructed?

Therapy groups may be homogeneous or heterogeneous.  Homogeneous groups have members with similar diagnostic backgrounds (for example, they may all suffer from depression).  Heterogeneous groups contain a mix of individuals with different emotional problems.  The number of group members typically ranges from 5 to 12.

How Do Therapy Groups Work?

The number of sessions in group therapy depends upon the group’s makeup, goals, and setting.  Some are time limited, with a predetermined number of sessions known to all members at the beginning.  Others are indeterminate, and the group and/or therapist determines when the group is ready to disband.  Membership may be closed or open to new members.  The therapeutic approach used depends on both the focus of the group and the therapist’s orientation.

In group therapy sessions, members are encouraged to discuss the issues that brought them into therapy openly and honestly.  The therapist works to create an atmosphere of trust and acceptance that encourages members to support one another.  Ground rules may be set at the beginning, such as maintaining confidentiality of group discussions, and restricting social contact among members outside the group.

The therapist facilitates the group process, that is, the effective functioning of the group, and guides individuals in self-discovery.  Depending upon the group’s goals and the therapist’s orientation, sessions may be either highly structured or fluid and relatively undirected.  Typically, the leader steers a middle course, providing direction when the group gets off track, yet letting members set their own agenda.  The therapist may guide the group by reinforcing the positive behaviors they engage in.  For example, if one member shows empathy and supportive listening to another, the therapist might compliment that member and explain the value of that behavior to the group.  In almost all group therapy situations, the therapist will emphasize the commonalities among members to instill a sense of group identity.

Self-help or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers fall outside of the psychotherapy realm.  These groups offer many of the same benefits, including social support, the opportunity to identify with others, and the sense of belonging that makes group therapy effective for many.   Self-help groups also meet to share their common concern and help one another cope. These groups, however, are typically leaderless or run by a member who takes on the leader role for one or more meetings. Sometimes self-help groups can be an adjunct to psychotherapy groups.

How are Patients Referred for Group Therapy?

Individuals are typically referred for group therapy by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Some may participate in both individual and group therapy.  Before a person begins in a therapy group, the leader interviews the individual to ensure a good fit between their needs and the group’s.  The individual may be given some preliminary information before sessions begin, such as guidelines and ground rules, and information about the problem on which the group is focused.

How Do Therapy Groups End?

Therapy groups end in a variety of ways.  Some, such as those in drug rehabilitation programs and psychiatric hospitals, may be ongoing, with patients coming and going as they leave the facility. Others may have an end date set from the outset.  Still others may continue until the group and/or the therapist believe the group goals have been met.
The termination of a long-term therapy group may cause feelings of grief, loss, abandonment, anger, or rejection in some members.   The therapist attempts to deal with these feelings and foster a sense of closure by encouraging exploration of feelings and use of newly acquired coping techniques for handling them. Working through this termination phase is an important part of the treatment process.

Who Drops Out of Group Therapy?

Individuals who are emotionally fragile or unable to tolerate aggressive or hostile comments from other members are at risk of dropping out, as are those who have trouble communicating in a group setting.  If the therapist does not support them and help reduce their sense of isolation and aloneness, they may drop out and feel like failures.  The group can be injured by the premature departure of any of its members, and it is up to the therapist to minimize the likelihood of this occurrence by careful selection and management of the group process.

Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?

I am an out-of-network insurance provider. When you call, please have your insurance card ready so I can obtain the proper information for my insurance biller to verify your benefits.

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.

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