I don’t want to just talk about how I’m feeling; I actually want things to change in my life.
There’s a big misconception out there that therapy means just talking and talking about the past without ever taking action on the present. We certainly don’t operate that way as therapists. While we will always create space to talk about your past and the feelings that surface as we explore this, we’re very direct and engaged and actively work with clients to design interventions, exercises, and thoughtful action steps if that’s what you’re looking for as part of therapy.
If I go to therapy there must be something wrong with me; I should be able to handle this/figure it out on my own, right?
Making the decision to seek out therapy isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a wise act of self-care to reach out for support from professionals when there’s a challenge you need help with. You’d reach out to a doctor for help setting your broken bone or to a lawyer if you needed help filing divorce paperwork, wouldn’t you? When it comes to your mental and emotional health it’s no different. Reaching out for professional support is an act of self-care to address the challenges you’re facing.
People usually decide to talk to a therapist when the pain of what they are trying to cope with becomes too big for them to handle on their own and they recognize they need help. It takes a great deal of emotional strength to seek help for problems that may be too overwhelming to manage alone.
Will a therapist will fix my problems right away?
The goal of counseling is not for someone else to “fix” your problems. We are here to help you identify concerns and to set goals for yourself. Solving those problems may involve working with your therapist to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. In doing so, you can explore your options and make a decision for how to best achieve your goals. YOU are the best one to fix your problems!
What exactly is therapy?
Put simply, therapy – also called psychotherapy or counseling – is the process of meeting with a trained and credentialed professional on a weekly, ongoing basis to help you recognize and change deep-rooted and potentially self-sabotaging mental and emotional behaviors, thoughts, and patterns that are keeping you feeling stuck, in pain, and away from the life you want to live.
Counseling will be a different experience for each individual, based on your unique set of circumstances. In your first session, which is called an "intake" appointment, you will be asked basic, informational questions and work with your therapist to establish goals for counseling.
What happens during the course of your counseling experience may differ over time, based on your situation, progress, or changes in your life. Your therapist may at times suggest exploring potential solutions such as relaxation training, journaling, role-playing, talking with relevant individuals, reading assignments, or even “homework.” How the therapeutic process will progress depends on your needs and goals.
How can a therapist understand what I am going through, unless they’ve gone through it themselves?
We agree that each individual is unique, and to achieve a complete understanding of one’s situation is very difficult. However, our clinicians have been trained to learn about, be sensitive to, and respectful of the unique experiences of each client. Those experiences may include concerns related to gender, age, cultural background, racial/ethnic differences, sexual orientation, gender identity, family-of-origin, or socioeconomic issues.
Therapy’s an added cost. Is it worth it?
Therapy is a financial commitment. It’s an investment in yourself and your ability to become aware of self-sabotaging patterns and more capable of practicing new, more effective thoughts and behaviors. This – this ability to think and behave more effectively – can profoundly and positively impact your future relationships, your work, your health, and even your finances. If you’re like most of the individuals we’ve worked with, you’ve likely already invested a lot of time and energy and money into your education, your career, your home, and your physical health. We truly believe that investing in therapy as an act of self-care can be a continued investment in your overall wellbeing and success in life.
What are some reasons people might come to therapy?
People come to counseling for all sorts of reasons. Most people start counseling because they have a sense of wanting something better for themselves – whether it’s to improve a relationship, relieve stress, or discover a greater sense of freedom, joy and ease in their lives – and yet they don’t fully know how to get there.
Counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique, confidential, therapeutic, helping relationship. In this relationship, the therapist acts as a facilitator in helping the client to understand more accurately him/herself and the world around him/her; to better understand their feelings and behaviors; and to assist the client in their interpersonal relationships. Discussion of whatever is important and impacting someone's life can enable an individual to grow towards greater freedom in making mature choices and taking responsible action.
Some common concerns:
I’m stressed out!
I’m not doing well in school.
I don’t like myself.
I’m having problems in a relationship.
I’m not enjoying myself as much as I did in the past.
I am interested in learning more about and improving myself.
Someone close to me has a problem with alcohol/ drugs.
I feel troubled with my thoughts.
I’m so anxious that I cannot go out in public.
My family is struggling to get along.
Life just doesn’t seem as worthwhile anymore.
Is what I share confidential?
Absolutely. Whatever you say in therapy, stays in therapy. However, there are times when a therapist is legally obligated to break confidentiality: in the case of 1) immediate threat of harm to self or other, 2) suspicion of child or dependent elder abuse, 3) in the case of a court order. We’ll discuss all of this and other office policies during your initial intake session.
We also carry confidentiality into the community. We inform clients that if we see them in the community we will not say hello. We never want to put anyone in a situation where they have to explain how they know us.
What can I expect from our first session?
Your first meeting is what’s known as an intake session. It’s different from a traditional therapy session because this will be a time for us to gather your case history, and together we’ll talk about why you have decided to pursue therapy and what your goals are for our time together. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know your therapist, to ask any questions you may have, and to see how you feel in the office and with your clinician. At the end of the session, we decide together if it feels right to move forward in scheduling another session and beginning the rest of the therapeutic journey.
Most sessions thereafter have a basic structure. The session starts with the client updating the therapist about what has been happening for them since our last meeting. We check in on any homework that was suggested. Time is provided for the client to talk about whatever current issues they need assistance with. We also refer back to our outlined goals for therapy (what they would like to be different when therapy is finished) and that always provides areas for conversation. The session concludes with a summary of our time together, and any suggestions for homework until the next session.
What if you’re not the right therapist for me?
We know that choosing the “right” therapist can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing and we want to help you feel at ease as you make this decision. Studies show that more important than the type of therapy, the biggest indicator of client success is the therapeutic relationship that develops between the therapist and client. In other words…there needs to be a "good fit". We encourage you to check out our Clinicians page that contains bios for all our providers. We also encourage you to “trust your instincts”. If it turns out that the therapist you meet with is not the best match for you, we guarantee you that we’ll provide you with additional referrals to other therapists who may be a good fit.
How long does therapy last? How will I know when I’m done?
The duration of therapy looks different for everyone. We operate from the perspective of “this is your therapy” and you get to choose. If a client is in crisis, then we suggest meeting weekly until things become more stable. Once the crisis is past, we move to bi-weekly or even monthly. It depends on what the client chooses as well as what is in their best interest therapeutically. You can trust that you and your therapist will keep checking in throughout your work together to determine if it feels appropriate and timely to end therapy. Ethically, a therapist shouldn’t want a client to have to come forever. The overall goal is that people feel better and go back to their lives. Once clients ‘graduate’ from seeing their therapist, many treat their therapist as one more tool in their health toolbox–checking in when necessary.