Who Goes To Therapy?

The stereotype is that only “crazy people” go to therapy, and the reality is that it is the people who are goal-oriented and solution-focused who seek a counselor in order to live a more effective life.  Sometimes it is a specific issue – such as depression or relationship issues – that leads people to look for assistance.  People often seek help when they are facing life transitions – such as leaving school, getting married or divorced, or changing careers.  Sometimes an event will occur that the individual finds stressful and they may need some assistance coping.  Long-term issues from childhood – such as emotional or physical abuse and neglect – may need to be resolved in the present in order to move forward.  Personal growth and self-exploration are two wonderful reasons to talk to a therapist.

What Can I Expect At My First Appointment?

There is a short intake form that you will receive at your first appointment.  It is helpful to arrive a few minutes early to complete the form so we may start on time.  During your first session, we will briefly review your personal history and examine the issues most relevant to you today.  We will establish goals to work on – they may be as diffuse as “Who am I?” or as concrete as “How do we stop fighting so much and learn to communicate effectively?”  We will look at a time frame for counseling – some issues can be resolved in a few sessions, and some require more extensive therapy.

What Can I Expect In A Therapy Session?

A session lasts 50 minutes, during which time we establish goals and find solutions.  We process issues from the past and present that may create stumbling blocks toward specific objectives.  I provide a safe and supportive environment to explore individual issues.  It is best to schedule weekly sessions in order to adequately address your needs.  Sessions may be scheduled twice a week if there are more pressing concerns.  Double sessions may be scheduled for more pressing issues, or for family therapy.  As balance and health are restored, sessions may move to every other week, or once a month until you feel more comfortable.  In our final session, we will review how you have succeeded in meeting your goals and what to expect in the future.

What Will Happen During the Course of Therapy?

While the ultimate goal is the successful resolution of the issues that brought you into counseling in the first place, you may feel better or worse at different points during our sessions.  If we are discussing past hurts, you may find that your sleeping schedule becomes disrupted, or you suddenly feel more anxious.  This does not mean the process of therapy is not working!  It means that we are getting to the root of your issues and they are coming to the surface as we work to resolve them.  You may also find that you have more energy and laugh more frequently.  This also means therapy is working as we drain the old pain and allow room for new growth.  In sum, you may experience a range of responses and they are all normal.  Please understand that there are no guarantees.  The people who benefit the most from therapy are those who are active participants in their own treatment process.

Will I Have to Take Medication?

Many people are concerned about being prescribed psychotropic medication.  Some fear they will never get off it and some are concerned that medication will alter their personality.   The best evidence to date suggests that for mild concerns – a slight depression, mild anxiety – therapy and lifestyle changes are best.  However, for more severe or long-standing problems, a combination of therapy, lifestyle change, and medication may be most effective.

As a therapist, I cannot and do not prescribe medication. You must see your family doctor or a psychiatrist to get medication.  I refer to several local psychiatrists and will work with them and you to ensure the best possible outcome for your treatment.

Is Therapy Confidential?

Florida law provides for complete client confidentiality.  However, there are a few instances in which this confidentiality may not apply.  They are:

  • If there is an action by the court requesting records or testimony.  This may happen in a criminal or civil case.
  • If you sign a waiver releasing the therapist from confidentiality.  This usually happens when you request that the therapist speak with your other health care professionals.
  • If there is clear and immediate probability of physical harm to you or other individuals.  This includes, but is not limited to: child or elder abuse, self-harm, suicide or homicide.

I adhere to the code of ethics of The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy www.aamft.org .

What Will I Gain From Therapy?

While each person has specific goals for their own treatment, some general changes you may experience might include:

  • Improved communication with friends,  family, and co-workers
  • Enhanced life skills, better coping strategies for common struggles
  • Resolution of issues that have kept you stuck in unhealthy patterns
  • Self-confidence and personal freedom
  • Feeling hopeful about the future

The most successful people are those who work both during and between sessions.   Unlike medicine, where the medication does the work for you, therapy requires you to do the work.  Therapy is a dynamic and active process of self-exploration.  We will work together to find the best solutions for you and your individual needs.