The motivation for going to therapy is as unique and varied as the individuals who seek it, but typically it is to get assistance in an area in one’s life that is causing distress, has unexpectedly changed, or that is not going as well as hoped. People seek therapy for dealing with anxiety or depression, grief, stress management, struggles in relationships, conflict, body-image and eating issues, parenting and general life transitions. Individuals also seek the help of a professional for dealing with long standing psychological issues like PTSD, ADHD, addiction, and phobias. Many seek the advice of therapists as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth.
Sometimes people think, “I have to be in crisis,” or, “the issue has to be really bad before I can go to therapy,” but often, people can benefit from therapy for milder or more common issues like needing help reaching a specific goal, figuring out how to communicate better at work, or taking better care of themselves.
Sometimes people ask: “Aren’t therapists just people you’re paying to listen to your problems?” It’s true that compassionate listening is an important part of the therapeutic process, but psychologists have doctorate degrees and have spent years studying relationships, work environments, conflict resolution, communication, and how people change. Psychologists spend their training and careers studying and working to better understand human distress, resiliency, and the factors driving human habits and choices.
Depending on the issue, working with a therapist can help provide new insight and perspective, non-judgmental support, accurate and up-to-date information, guidance based on research and expertise, and the space to learn and practice new strategies for life’s inevitable challenges.
Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
What is Therapy Like?
Each therapy session lasts about 50 minutes. Depending on the issues being addressed and the stage of therapy (beginning or later) session are scheduled weekly, every other week, monthly, or as needed or desired. Every therapy session is different and serves each individual and their specific goals. During therapy sessions it is standard to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life. There may be many different approaches we use to address your concerns together, but it is always grounded in collaboration.
Psychotherapy is not like a medical doctor visit. Instead, it calls for a very active effort on your part. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant article or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective, you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions.
Psychotherapy can have benefits and risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, psychotherapy has also been shown to have benefits for people who go through it. Therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience.
Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.
Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Strategies informed by current research for enacting positive change and reducing distress
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance