These frequently asked questions about mental health may help new clients understand how therapy can help improve their lives.

How can therapy help me?

Therapy provides many benefits. Therapists can provide support, and share problem-solving skills and positive coping strategies. Issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks may be alleviated with therapy. Many people find counselors an asset to personal growth, relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and hassles of daily life.

Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on difficult problems or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits of therapy depend on how well you practice what you learn. Some of the benefits from therapy include:

• Gaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
• Developing skills for improving relationships
• Resolving the issues that led you to seek therapy
• Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
• Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
• Improving communication and listening skills
• Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
• Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
• Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life. You may have successfully navigated through many difficulties you’ve faced, but there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. By seeking therapy, you are taking responsibility for where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy? How do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different reasons for seeking therapy. Some may be going through a major life transition like unemployment, divorce, or a new job. Perhaps they are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need help managing issues like low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts, or even creative blocks. Therapy can provide some much needed encouragement and skills to get us through these periods. Some people may simply be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. Most importantly, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Each person has different issues, and therefore, 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 insights from the previous therapy session. Therapy can be short-term for a specific issue, or longer-term to deal with difficult patterns. It is 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, are open to new perspectives, and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

Mental and emotional problems — and the pain they cause — cannot be solved by medication alone. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can grow and achieve greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor and your mental health provider, you can determine what’s best for you. In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

Do you take insurance? How does that work?

Yes, our office accepts some insurance. To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask include:

• What are my mental health benefits?
• What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
• How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
• How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
• Is approval required from my primary care physician?

Does what we talk about 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 sensitive subject matter. Frequently, it is the type of information that is not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should 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 your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your physician, naturopath, or attorney, for example.) By law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.

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