What to Expect: Sessions typically last 50-55 minutes. The first time I meet with new clients is for an intake session. During an intake session, we will spend time talking about what brings you into therapy and any goals you may have. I will ask background questions about your history, family, any previous treatment, and (most importantly) current events and details in your life. The first 2 to 3 sessions are a "getting to know you" phase. Often it takes clients a few sessions to see whether they feel comfortable working together. After that, we begin meeting regularly (usually weekly or biweekly) and use the sessions to focus on whatever issue brings you in.
What is psychotherapy? Whether you call it psychotherapy, therapy, or counseling, a therapist can help you work through problems. Through psychotherapy (counseling or therapy), a therapist helps people of all ages live happier, healthier and more productive lives. In therapy, therapist help people develop healthier, more effective habits and work through their problems. There are several approaches to psychotherapy — including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and other kinds of talk therapy. Therapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a therapist. Grounded in dialogue, it provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, neutral and nonjudgmental. You and your therapist will work together to identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that are keeping you from feeling your best. By the time you’re done, you will not only have solved the problem that brought you in, but you will have learned new skills so you can better cope with whatever challenges arise in the future.
When should you consider psychotherapy? Because of the many misconceptions about psychotherapy, you may be reluctant to try it out. Even if you know the realities instead of the myths, you may feel nervous about trying it yourself. Overcoming that nervousness is worth it. That’s because any time your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help. Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still others may have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, facing an empty nest, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member's death, for example.
Psychotherapy: Myths versus reality
Myth: Only crazy people go to psychotherapy.
Reality: Many people seek therapy for all kinds of issues. Some seek therapy for treatment for such things as anxiety or depression, or substance abuse, others want help coping with major life transitions or changing problem behaviors: the loss of a job, a divorce or the death of a loved one. Yet others need help managing and balancing the demands of parenting, work and family responsibilities, coping with medical illness, improving relationship skills or managing other stressors that can affect just about all of us. Anyone can benefit from psychotherapy to become a better problem solver.
Myth: Talking to family members or friends is just as effective as going to a therapist
Reality: Support from family and friends you can trust is important when you're having a hard time. But a therapist can offer much more than talking to family and friends. A therapist can recognize behavior or thought patterns objectively, more so than those closest to you who may have stopped noticing — or maybe never noticed. A therapist might offer remarks or observations similar to those in your existing relationships, but their help may be more effective due to their timing, focus or your trust in their neutral stance. Plus, you can be completely honest with your therapist without concern that anyone else will know what you revealed. The therapeutic relationship is grounded in confidentiality. (There are a few exceptions where a therapist has a duty to inform others, such as if you threaten to harm yourself or someone else. But that’s something your therapist will clarify with you.) In fact, people often tell their therapist things they have never before revealed to anyone else. If your difficulties have been ongoing without any significant improvement, it may be time to seek help from a trained therapist.
Myth: You can get better on your own if you just try hard enough and keep a positive attitude.
Reality: Many people have tried to solve their problems on their own for weeks, months or even years before starting psychotherapy but have found that that it’s not enough. Deciding to start psychotherapy doesn't mean you’ve failed, just like it doesn't mean you’ve failed if you can't repair your own car. There may be a biological component to some disorders, such as depression or panic attacks, which make it incredibly difficult to heal yourself. In reality, having the courage to reach out and admit you need help is a sign of strength rather than weakness — and the first step toward feeling better.
(American Psychological Association)