How can therapy help me?
Participating in therapy can have several benefits. Therapists can provide non-judgmental 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, 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 counseling depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- 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
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or relationship
- 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 strength and 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 manage triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have different motivations for coming to counseling. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful situations as well as they'd like. Some people need help managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, 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. No matter what the reason for seeking therapy, those that do are ready to meet challenges and 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 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 that you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as practicing relaxation and assertiveness skills, journaling on specific topics, or participating in a specific activity or event. People seeking therapy 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 our distress and the behavior patterns that block our progress. You can best achieve long-term 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.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Yes. To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. You can usually find a customer service number on the back of your card. 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 and co-pay 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?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and a therapist. Unless there is a safety issue, your personal information is 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's discussed 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 (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney). But by law, your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, WA State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations of client safety:
* Abuse or neglect of children (under age 18) and vulnerable adults to the authorities, including Child Protective Services and appropriate law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.
These exceptions to confidentiality are intended to maintain client safety and successful therapy results. They will be discussed in more detail during your first appointment.