How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits result from treatment with effective cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. Psychologists provide effective encouragement, support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for challenges such as depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, unresolved childhood trauma, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that psychologists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage problems and the challenges of daily life. Therapists provide a fresh perspective on difficult problems or can point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from your psychological treatment depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Unlike a psychiatrist (MD) that focuses on brain biology and pills, psychology (PhD)focuses on individual and relationship life-skills especially in how we manage or mismanage our thoughts, emotions and behavior. 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 at this time
- Learning new ways to cope with stress, anxiety, anger, depression and many other negative emotions
- Managing toxic levels of stress and other emotional reactions at home and on the job
- Improving assertive straight talk and listening skills both as couples, parents and on the worksite
- Changing destructive old behavior patterns and developing healthy new ones such as maintaining sobriety and the elimination of substance and process addictions. Substances ingested can include: alcohol, marijuana, food, nicotine, prescription drugs, etc., and process addictions are non-ingested - gambling, sex, computers, compulsions, workaholic, etc.
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence and courage
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems on my own.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with learning new and more effective relationship skills when you need them. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize when they need new and more effective life-skills, and that is something to be admired as a healthy personality trait. There have been different times in my life when I and family members have utilized both individual and/or family psychology to develop new skills to adapt to life challenges. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life at this moment 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, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome the challenges you face.
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 are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need new and effective skills to overcome a range of other challenges such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and to learn the new skill-set to get them through these periods. 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 the challenges in their lives and ready to develop personal growth and wellness. They are ready to seek balance, effectiveness and happiness.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, it will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current stressors happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and 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 personality and behavior patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions (usually weekly) at first and sometimes less frequently after this. Evaluation toward meeting your goals are made between you and I at each session. Always expect: encouragement, support, non-judgement, a lot of new skills and some humor (so that we don't take ourselves so seriously and turn everything into a catastrophy.)
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in session, you and I may agree or suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, U Tube/Internet Research, support groups, 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, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives and wellness. Any aerobic activity - walking, jogging, bikeing, swimming, etc. is highly encouraged to boost endorphins in the brain.
The first session I get a picture from you of what your goals are. These may even be vague at first, but I typically learn about some history of the problem areas and use some brief inventories and psychological instruments to assess for: anxiety, depression, psychotrauma, PTSD, and personality traits as well. A few of these tests include: Beck Depression and Burns Anxiety Inventories, Kern Life Style Scale, Adlerian Life Style Inventory, Dinkmeyer Marital Inventory and Dinkmeyer Sentence Completion Test.
Are counseling and psychotherapy the same ?
Yes and No! They are the same only in that they both have a purpose in helping you to make transformational growth in your life. However, counseling is concerned chiefly with enabling you to modify self-defeating behaviors, make effective decisions and solve problems effectively at a conscious level. Psychotherapy is more concerned with influencing the life style, changing faulty, mistaken and self-defeating perceptions; and actually influencing your beliefs and goals at a deeper level called the subconscious mind. Even if we use a cognitive behavioral therapy technique, we frequently use mindfulness methods to take you deeper to the root of the symptoms and problems for recovery and personality development. Examples of psychotherapy techniques I use are the PsychoClarity Process, family systems, mindfulness/meditation, Emotional Freedom Technique and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
What about medication with or without psychotherapy?
In the last 20 years, it has become well established and researched world wide, that the long-term permanent solution to psychological, emotional and relationship problems and the pain they cause is not solved solely by medication. Instead of treating the surface symptoms with a drug, with psychotherapy we uncover the root cause of your distress and the behavior patterns that limit your wellness in life. You can best achieve sustainable permanent growth and a greater sense of well-being with an approach to wellness that changes fundamentally dysfunctional beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behavior at a mind-based and not a brain-based level. Keeping your family physician fully informed with updated progress notes can be provided with your signed permission. Never make any sudden changes yourself as he or she needs to be consulted for a medication review and/or recommendations related to dosage, withdrawal and/or side- effects. Some disorders such as schizophrenia and varied neurological and brain impairments are best treated by a biopsychiatrist with psychotropic drugs. When you are ready and made appropriate progress with your anxiety and/or depression, have an open and honest discussion with your family physician. He/she may agree to gradually taper your dosage down after becoming skilled at learning Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or marital / family therapy to shift your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
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:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a patient and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the psychologists office. You will receive a written copy of your HIPPA 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 me to share information or give a progress update to someone on your healthcare team (Physician, Minister, Spouse, Attorney, etc.), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
State law, and professional ethics require me to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders is reported to authorities, including Child Protection, Court Orders, and law enforcement, based on information provided by the patient or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.