Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy:
Starting therapy can be a difficult step to take. If you are feeling uncertain or anxious about making a first appointment, know that is completely normal. It is often a scary process full of unknowns, especially if you have never seen a therapist before. Here are my answers to some common concerns:
How do I find the right therapist for me?
Therapy is most effective when the client feels comfortable in the therapy room, with complete trust in the therapist with whom they're working. As such, it is important that you feel the therapist is someone you "click" with and feel comfortable with. People are often surprised when I explain to them that in the process of finding a therapist, it is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to meet with several different therapist until they find the right "fit." This, in addition to making sure the therapist commonly treats the issues bringing you to therapy, should make your experience the best it can be.
What do I need to do to prepare for the first session?
Generally, it's a good idea to have in mind your overall goals for therapy and what you'd like to see improve in your life. But it's also okay if you don't exactly know your goals. Part of therapy might be nailing down what you'd like to see change in your life. Typically, the first session will involve gathering information about the reason you're seeking therapy, as well as background information about your life. Also, having knowledge of your insurance coverage (if you're using insurance) can help determine the out of pocket cost and assist in developing a realistic schedule of sessions that can be adhered to.
How long will I need to attend therapy?
This is something that varies widely based on individual need. If the issue that you're facing is fairly straight-forward and you're looking only for tools to manage it better, therapy can be rather short-term (6-12 sessions is considered short-term). This can be the case for individuals experiencing panic attacks, for example. When facing issues that are more deeply rooted in life-long struggles with many different symptoms, past trauma, or more ingrained personality traits, the course of treatment may be longer-term (months or even years). I tend to use each individual's report on how they are managing and what they need to determine when treatment is complete. If symptoms have improved and there are no new goals to address, I often taper down the frequency of sessions prior to ending treatment. You can trust that throughout the course of therapy, I will check in on our work together to determine if therapy is meeting your needs and if/when it feels appropriate and timely to end therapy.
I have considered going to therapy, but I don't want to "pay for a friend."
The relationship with a therapist is different from our relationships with our family members and friends. A therapist's role is to be an objective, non-judgemental source of clinical knowledge. Our friends and family members (as well-intended as they are!) often have biases about what we should or should not do with our lives, sometimes based on their own needs or personal agendas. A therapist ideally is an objective sounding-board who assists individuals in coming to their own conclusions about what is best for them, without any personal biases or agendas. There are important boundaries with the therapy relationship that ensure that this objective, non-judgemental environment is maintained for the client.
Do I really need therapy? There are a lot of people out there who have it worse than I do.
I often hear from clients in the first session about their uncertainty of whether the issues they present with are "enough" of a reason to come to therapy. I even hear expressions of guilt for taking a time slot from someone who may "need it more." To this, I say, "Another person's experience or pain does not minimize your own." We really cannot compare ourselves and what we're going through to anyone else. We are all allowed our individual responses to our individual situations. There really is no problem too small to inquire with a therapist. If you are feeling that therapy could be beneficial to you, but feel that it may not be a "big enough issue," schedule an appointment and express your concerns. Given that the course of treatment varies by individual need, I can make recommendations about what the appropriate course of treatment is for you.