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Thinking About Therapy…Is It Right For Me?

In this blog post, I am going to write a little bit about therapy itself; what it is and whether it might be the right thing for you at this time in your life.

There are many different therapeutic modalities and treatment approaches that people find to be of help.

Research has shown that one of the most important aspects of therapy is that the client feels that he/she can trust the therapist, and feels comfortable taking openly to the therapist. Topics such as a person’s day-to-day functioning, fears, interpersonal relationships, past experiences and hopes for the future are subjects that are commonly explored in therapy. The therapist’s role is to provide a safe and supportive environment where growth, healing and change can take place.

Individuals seek out therapy for many reasons. Whatever your reason, therapy can provide a supportive environment to work on your goals, heal emotional pain, or make the changes you desire in your life. Maybe you feel like you just need someone to listen, or maybe you feel that you need someone to challenge you to think or act in new ways.

In my practice, I embrace a client-centered and collaborative approach to therapy, meaning that I would work with you to approach your issues from a perspective that I hope will best match your needs, values, beliefs, and goals. We’ll examine your life carefully considering how the psychological, intellectual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of your life may be affecting the issues that you’re working on in therapy. It will be important to identify your strengths, so that you can use them as a resource to help you be move forward.

What Keeps People From Seeking Therapy?

For those of you who have never been in therapy before (or who have thought about it and have had some unsettled feelings about taking the first step and making an appointment), I would like to tell you that I *completely* understand that the idea that seeing a therapist can be pretty frightening and difficult. I know that a lot of people  don’t like the idea of seeing a therapist because they think that therapy is only for “crazy” people, or people who are “weak” and “can’t handle their own problems”. While I don’t believe that any of those statements are true, I do believe that it’s natural for people to feel vulnerable and a bit uneasy in any new therapy situation; it’s hard to open up to someone you don’t know or to admit that you might need some extra support in your life. I know that many of my clients feel some degree of anxiety the first time they come in to see me, so I work very hard to make them feel at ease and supported.

I see therapy as something that can help you grow, learn about yourself and access the inherent strengths you already have to get you to where you want to be in your life. Coming for therapy does not mean that something is wrong with you and needs to be changed. Everyone out there has something that they might like to work on, it’s just part of being a human being.

Of course, at times people are motivated to begin therapy because they’re going through something extremely difficult (losing a loved one, a divorce, feeling depressed/anxious, etc.). If this applies to you, please don’t wait to reach out for some support. As a therapist, I am here to use the tools I have learned in my training to guide you to a stronger place.

What IS Therapy?

Therapy consists of a professional relationship between you and the therapist, in which there is a mutual commitment to meet, usually weekly, at the same office and hour. Many people elect to work with a therapist as a guide in exploring their feelings, thoughts, relationships, and behaviors. Through the relationship you develop with your therapist, you can learn about your way of being with others, as well as how you take care of yourself/your needs. I work with many of my clients to help them confront their sense of self-worth and difficulties in relating to others. In addition, I help my clients to break old patterns, relate to others in new ways and to foster different types of relationships.

How Is Therapy Different From Speaking With a Friend/Family Member?

Every therapeutic relationship, like every friendship, is unique, but there are some important differences between friendships and therapist-client relationships which I wanted to share below:

  • A special characteristic of most (healthy) friendships is that they are based on mutual support; there is a natural expectation in place that each person will reciprocate in an equal manner in the relationship. You help each other. Therapy is all about you. I don’t discuss my problems with my clients! This is your time.
  • For most people, there are some issues that you feel you can’t talk about in an open way with your friends or family, such as anger, relationship difficulties,  or traumatic events (just to name a few). In supportive therapy, you should be able to openly express all of the things that concern you and prevents you from being at peace. I listen and understand my clients non-judgmentally, and guide them to confront these concerns as your path of healing.
  • Often in friendships, what you say isn’t guaranteed to be kept in confidentiality. In therapy, everything you express is kept in strict confidentiality (except for certain legal exceptions, which I can explain further). If you feel at all constrained by the things you cannot share with others in your social support group or family system, therapy can be a liberating experience.
  • Friends often lend a different kind of “listening ear” and supportive environment than therapists are trained to provide. When you tell your friends about your difficulties or problems in your relationships, sometimes those friends will “side with you” by agreeing with you, even when it’s clear that you may have not handled the situation in a healthy manner. Friends may form a negative opinion of the situation. Or, a friend might give you advice when you are not ready to hear it. Sometimes we simply want someone to acknowledge and hear our pain, as opposed to trying to tell us what to do. Not everyone is ready for advice! Therapists “take your side” in a different manner; I help my clients to create a sense of self-awareness that liberates them to make lifelong changes in how they relate to others around them. I provide a supportive environment for my clients to express their pain.
  • Most people struggle with the difficulties of bringing up the same problems and issues with their friends. They think, (sometimes correctly!), that their friends or family are tired of hearing the same story, and wish they would “get over it.” Sometimes my clients feel that they don’t want to worry their friends and family members, so they keep their feelings internalized…which can be difficult. As a therapist, I have been trained to identify and focus on the underlying patterns in your stories, and non-judgmentally guide you to become more aware of them. Once they are in your awareness, I can assist you through processing these patterns so that you can effect change and improve your life!

 

 

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