Is therapy right for me?
If you’re in emotional crisis, you are probably not asking this question. This question comes from someone who feels an emptiness or an imbalance and wants to know what to do about it. So a better question might be, is this the right therapy for me? Is this where I can find a fuller, happier life?
As a society, we have moved away from the village, and thus the village elders, with their long experience to share. We have moved away from religion, where our ancestors found spiritual peace. We have moved towards an amazing world of discovery and accomplishment, but we have left something behind. Therapy can and does fill that gap for many people. Therapy can go far beyond problem solving, to an awakening of your potential.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems
If you’re asking about need, then you are not desperate. But many smart, resourceful people find that therapy helps them to find happier, more satisfying lives. The question is, do you like the way you handle yourself and relate with others? Do you feel confident and generally happy? Are your relationships truly fulfilling? Do you like your body? Do you sleep well?
Or are you leading a life of quiet desperation? Do you drink too much or eat to comfort yourself? Are you lonely? These are all normal conditions that can be helped dramatically by the right therapy.
How can therapy help me?
Many people think of therapy as just for those who are in some way ill. It can be so much more. We develop new ways of looking at, and handling, problems; we focus on managing stress and widening your support base. Many people come to therapy to work out old issues that still hamper them, or to work through unresolved grief. Problems in marriage or in other relationships respond well to the presence of a third, trained party.
Ultimately, therapy can help you be your best self.
What is therapy like?
The general framework is simple. When we agree to work together, we set up a schedule of regular meetings (most often weekly) and agree on a goal you want to achieve. Usually a session lasts fifty minutes or so.
Beyond that, we tailor the work to fit you. Short-term work can be very helpful for a specific problem. It’s important to realize that deeper work takes longer, but that the results are much wider and longer-lasting.
Couples work is usually a longer session, about 1½ hours, and often involves some form of “homework.”
Although group therapy is less expensive than individual treatment, it is equally powerful. Within the group there are multiple points of view and you are interacting with your peers. Group usually meets weekly for 1 ½ hours.
What is a session like?
If it’s going well, neither of us will be thinking about “technique.” A good session feels like a deep conversation, in which you’re invited to talk fully about what matters to you. As in a good conversation, I listen carefully to what you say, and to what you don’t say, and give you feedback about my thoughts and reactions.
For you to get the most out of our work together, I will ask you to let yourself be curious about yourself and your life. It will help you if you are willing to suspend judgment about yourself and your circumstances, and to let yourself to look at things from another angle. I have a lot of experience and a certain sensitivity, but I will need you to help me to be the best therapist for you. This means that you will be willing to tell me what you want and what you don’t like, and also be willing to explore both.
The work can sometimes be uncomfortable, but I will not allow it to be intolerable. I ask you to suspend any disbelief about our shared ability to improve your life.
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
Medication is a fairly recent miracle, especially those medications that work well and without side-effects. There have been numerous studies to show that medication in combination with talk therapy is the most effective treatment.
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
Recent legislation is increasing mental health coverage to be on parity with physical health coverage. However, there are certain questions you should ask your insurance carrier:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my plan pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Do I need a referral from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
I am ethically and legally constrained not even to acknowledge that you are my client unless you give me written permission. You may say anything, with confidence that I will not repeat it, EXCEPT that the law requires me to report the following potential dangers:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. I am required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. I am required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to work with the person to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.