What is Therapy?
Often people ask, how is therapy different from talking to a friend? First, conversation with a friend or family member requires social reciprocity while therapy is all about you. Therapy is an open and safe space for you to slow down and explore those emotions and thoughts that may not be tolerable in the world out there. The only expectation is for you to say what is on your mind and be as honest as you can be. It is confidential and separate from your everyday life. Secondly, while therapy can certainly feel like a rewarding conversation, a skilled therapist deepens the dialogue in such a way that brings about change. A good therapist is someone who you can trust who translates years of training and experience, research, and theory to help you change, grow, and accomplish your goals.
Is Therapy Really for Me?
I have worked with many, many people over the years and have humbly sat on both sides of the couch myself. Everyone has at least a small amount of apprehension when seeking therapy for the first, second, or even fifth time. We all wonder things like: will this therapist think I’m crazy/bad/stupid/boring/fill in the blank? Am I crazy/bad/stupid/boring/fill in the blank? Will I find out something about myself that I didn’t know, that I don’t want to know, that will be deeply shameful and awful? What if I don’t get better? What if I do get better? How can this therapist really know anything about me that will help me? And the list goes on. I can’t take this apprehension away, but I can say you that are not alone. And, yes, therapy really IS for you, with the right, skilled therapist. It’s an investment in yourself (like going to the gym, getting your hair done, or taking a vacation), to help you achieve greater personal freedom and satisfaction, deepen your relationships, feel better, and grow.
Choosing a Therapist
When choosing a therapist consider their education and training first. It is important to find someone who, at a minimum, has a license to practice therapy. Many therapists have master’s degrees while some have doctoral degrees. It can be confusing to understand how the various types of training impact what happens for you, as the client, in the room with a therapist. I would recommend you ask your potential therapist about his or her training and how this influences the type of therapy they practice. Their answer will connect with you, or not. This leads us to the single most important factor in therapy outcome: goodness of fit. Is this someone who you think you can talk to? Do you trust them, or can you see yourself trusting them in the future? Do you feel comfortable and safe in conversation with them? Does this person “get” you? Listen to your gut and be selective. I often advise people to consult with more than one therapist before choosing whom to embark on the therapy journey with. The match between you and your therapist is an essential factor that has repeatedly been cited in research as the key to achieving effective and lasting improvements.
What to Expect
Once we make contact, we will briefly talk over the phone to discuss how I can help you. Then, we will schedule a consultation session. Consultation is meant to give you an opportunity to see if you would like to continuing working with me. I will use the consultation to begin to formulate a treatment plan and give you some feedback about how we might proceed. Once we decide to work together, we will schedule consistent weekly (or more frequent) sessions, usually scheduled at the same time each week. Individual and child therapy sessions are typically 45 or 90 min in length, while family sessions are typically 60 min or longer.