Do our conversations in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. I provide a written copy of their 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 me to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (for example, your Physician), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events 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 patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process — such as reading a pertinent book, 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.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb your progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

How do I choose the right therapist?

Finding the right therapist is just as important as deciding to seek therapy. There are many different types of therapists, both based on their personalities and their practice philosophies and training.

My first recommendation would be to ask friends, colleagues or trusted doctors/other professionals for recommendations. Although it is OK if a recommended therapist doesn't necessarily feel right for you, a referral can often be a great place to start your search.

You will also want to explore the therapist's website. Do you like what you see? Do you feel like he or she may be a good fit based on how you connect with their site? Are they licensed? Do they list professional experiences/background? Do they offer their practice philosophy or types of services and do these resonate with you?

Once you've narrowed down your search, call or email the therapist(s) you would like to talk to and set up an appointment. Do you feel comfortable talking to them over the phone? Do you feel like he or she is someone you may feel comfortable talking with in-person? Ask them about their experience with issues similar to the ones you are having.

One important question that I personally think is important when searching for a therapist is whether or not he or she is in their own therapy. The best therapists know that in order to be fully present and objective for their clients, they need to constantly be working on themselves and have an outlet for processing their own emotional holdings.

Remember, if at any time you don't feel like it's the right fit, move on! You can ask that particular therapist for a recommendation or go back to the drawing board. The most effective therapist is one that you feel comfortable with that can also safely challenge, support and guide you in finding relief.

Are you going to tell me what to do?

When we are in a tough place in our life, it is normal to feel like we have to “decide” if we are going to change. It is common that you might be asking friends or family, “What would you do if you were me?” My job as a therapist is to help you find a place of peace and clarity within yourself so that you can discern your next step. So, no, I will not give you advice or tell you what decision to make about your relationship. Instead, I walk along side of you as you determine your goal.

What are the benefits and risks of therapy?

Benefits: While there are no guarantees, this process should assist you in emotional and mental growth, and general improvement of life challenges. While it is possible to improve personal issues without assistance, research has shown that individuals who participate in professional counseling sessions tend to improve more dramatically and for the long-term.

Risks: Participation in therapy sessions may include the following risks: increased relational challenges, increased self-awareness that may be difficult or upsetting, or the general state of your life and condition may decline in quality before it begins to improve. Risks related to most mainstream therapeutic methodologies are deemed to be minimal but may include an initial increase in anxiety and thought processes as well as the potential of general life disorganization as you work to address thought life issues.

If you are contemplating counseling you should realize that you may make significant changes in their lives. People often modify their emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. They may also make changes in your marriage or significant relationships, such as with parents, friends, children, relatives etc. You may change employment and begin to feel differently about yourselves, and may change other aspects of your lives. While I will assist you in effecting change, I cannot guarantee a specific outcome. You are ultimately responsible for your own growth.

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