What is the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists are clinical professionals who specialize in understanding mental health. They hold a doctorate degree, provide specialized counseling services, and do not prescribe medication. Medical doctors provide medication but are not trained in the administration of effective psychotherapy or how to create a therapeutic relationship.
Should I take medication or go into psychotherapy?
Research shows that counseling provides longer therapeutic benefit than medication alone. Scientific findings indicate that individuals who’ve engaged in effective psychotherapy are able to reduce medication or completely discontinue medication for many types of psychological concerns. The reason for this is, medications primarily treat symptoms. Therapy addresses the root causes of distress and the behavior patterns that inhibit progress. You can best achieve sustainable 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 both medication and therapy is the right course of action.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
On the contrary. People who ask for help demonstrate creativity, strength, and resourcefulness. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have strengths that you’ve used in the past. We can build on these strengths to create a new sense of yourself. Often problems are a call to grow, evolve, and find a way of being that has not yet been accessed. A compassionate guide can bring about new awareness and help you to let go of negative beliefs that are keeping you stuck.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is a mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way- teach you new skills, gain a fresh perspective, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about anyone sharing your personal information or betraying your trust. Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, you are in the hands of a professional who can guide you through the process and help you develop new coping resources to deal effectively with the problem.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. In general, you can expect to discuss current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and progress from the previous therapy session. Many times we will use mind-body methods, mindfulness, and other types of experiential techniques that are beyond traditional talk therapy. While insight is helpful, I find that simply dissecting problems does not fundamentally alter them.
How long will it take?
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, I typically schedule weekly or biweekly sessions initially, and then space them out as you see progress. You will still make a lot of progress, even if you are working biweekly, because we will cover a lot in each session.
If I commit to therapy, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of therapy?
Therapy can be a life-altering process. In my opinion, you would expect to gain new insights, fundamental shifts in how you orient within yourself and to the world, as well as clarification on what you want to create in your life. Of course, the more honest and engaged you are in the process, the greater the results. Beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, if you are receptive to homework, I can suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your progress – such as practicing meditation or relaxation skills, mind-body techniques to teach your body to relax and ground, journaling ideas for specific topics, a pertinent book, or tracking particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. For individuals who do not prefer to do homework, that is okay too. We will make progress either way, because the techniques I use in-session are interactive and effective.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I could work with only one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.