I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the courage to reach out. A counselor can help you see your strengths and challenges from a new perspective and help you build skills that improve your wellbeing. No one thinks their car is defective when they go in for an oil change. Think of a counselor as a mechanic for your mind, everyone needs a tune up now and then.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
Mental health professionals have years of training in how to best help people based on research and experience. A professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Counseling is a confidential space where you can fully express yourself without judgment and without worrying about another person’s needs. This unique relationship also allows you to have a contained space for what you’re working on. As much as your friend or family may support you, they may not have the resources you need to work through a difficult time.
Is what I say in therapy kept private?
Yes, there are a few exceptions related to legal obligations and safety measures, but generally we say “what you say here stays here”. What you discuss with your therapist is protected by the legal and ethical principal of confidentiality, information about you and information you disclose in session will not be repeated without your written consent. (For clients under age 18, some laws around confidentiality vary. This will be discussed in our first session to clarify expectations and obligations.)
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication can be effective for providing some relief, but it alone cannot solve all issues. Sometimes medication is needed in conjunction with counseling, sometimes it isn’t. Our work together is designed to explore and unpack the problems you are experiencing and expand on your strengths that can help you accomplish your personal goals. Therapy will help you build your own internal resources to draw on throughout your life.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
There are many different theories about how and why therapy is effective, but the simplest answer is that it works because you do. It is a collaborative process where your counselor supports your own self exploration and growth. It is always appropriate to ask questions about the process, and speak up if something doesn’t seem to be working for you. Because each person has different issues and goals for counseling, it will be different depending on the individual. Your active participation and dedication will be crucial to your success.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time counseling can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek counseling in the first place.
How much do sessions cost?
Costs depend on insurance coverage, but are generally limited to co-pays. Calling your insurance provider is the best way to confirm the details of your particular plan. If you are paying out of pocket, many clinicians offer a sliding scale for clients who would otherwise struggle to pay for services.
Where do I find a therapist?
Psychology Today maintains a database of clinicians, you can sort by specialty and read about a clinician’s philosophy and experience to get a sense of if they are a good fit for you. Your insurer should also be able to provide you with a list of in network providers in your area. Asking for recommendations from friends or relatives may also be an option, but each person’s needs and preferences are unique.
Who is the right therapist for me?
A solid therapeutic relationship is the foundation for successful work in therapy. I always encourage new clients to “shop around” by talking with a few clinicians to find the best style that works for them. There are many ways to be effective, but you should consistently feel heard and respected.