A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide 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, marriage issues, 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 therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Developing skills for improving your relationships
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
Improving communications and listening skills
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
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 have faced, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting the challenges you have been facing 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 avoid triggers, redirect damaging patterns, and work through your challenges.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or may not be handling stressful circumstances well. Some people may need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get people through these difficult times. 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. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet their personal challenges and to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Each individual's therapy will be tailored to his or her own issues goals for therapy. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, to talk about your personal history relevant to your issue, and to report progress (or any new insights gained) 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 your sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do on your own to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors, or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives and are open to new perspectives and to 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 curb our 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 is best for you. In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them are:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
What is my deductible, and has it been met?
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 psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually 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 you discuss 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, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality EXCEPT in the following situations:
* If the therapist suspects past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders, the therapist must report this to the appropriate authorities, such as child protective services and law enforcement. Similarly, if the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him or herself or has threatened to harm another person, the therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities.