“Psychotherapy is most powerful when it helps you to move from being a passive sufferer to an active agent on your own behalf, to take greater charge over what happens inside you, around you, or between you and others.”

- from the Consumer’s Guide to Psychotherapy

Collaboration

In my almost 30 years of practice, I’ve had many people ask me what psychotherapy really is, and what a therapist does “to them”.  First, I don’t “do” anything to you. I “collaborate” with you to explore, understand, and decide if or how you want to change aspects of yourself or your situation. 

Therapy is a process focused on helping you heal or find better ways to deal with the problems, issues, for concerns in your life. It can be a learning process or it can be a supportive process when going through a difficult period in your life.

More Than Your Best Friend

Change occurs in the context of a “therapeutic relationship” or the relationship between you and your therapist. This is very different from most other relationships. First and foremost, your therapist should be someone you feel comfortable with, whose office feels safe, with whom you feel you can trust and eventually share important aspects of your life. Some people state they have enough friends and can just talk to them. A therapist is different from a “good friend”, however, because the therapist is available for you, and you do not have to worry about being there for them. Many clients do not realize how much time they spend “being there for other people”, but not having people be there for them. Also, your therapist is more objective, and can note actions and behaviors that friends might not mention. The session time is completely yours…and is focused on you. The time spent with your therapist is yours, and you decide what is important to focus on to best help you each time you meet. You are allies working together on your specific issues. In addition, psychotherapy is completely confidential. Anything you disclose is kept between you and your therapist unless there is concern that you will harm yourself or others.

Talking Can Help…

Many persons wonder if they could benefit from therapy. Friends may talk about it, you might see it on television, or you may have a good friend that has utilized the services of a therapist. Despite this, most people have little understanding of how or why they might talk to a therapist. Many people believe that if they go to see a psychotherapist then they must have serious psychological problems.  However, even the healthiest people go through periods of time when they are experiencing stress or tension regarding some issue in their life.  Some people go to therapy to discuss current life situations that seem unusually difficult, or that are making them particularly anxious.  Some seek therapy to explore recurrent behavioral patterns that seem to hold them back and keep them from reaching their full potential. They may try and try to change something in their life, yet continue to make poor decisions or wind up in less than satisfying relationships.  Others may have some “childhood trauma”, or something “bad” that happened to them when they were young. They may have never told anyone about what happened, may not have been listened to, or just carry the burdensome weight of yesterday’s trauma with them today. They may continue to carry enormous amounts of sadness, fear, and anger regarding what happened to them.  Still others are turning to therapy to understand and better their relationships, either in individual therapy or in couples counseling. Even the best relationships may go through difficult times, especially during transitions.  Lastly, some people decide to go into therapy as their body seems to have a “mind of its own”, and they can’t figure out how to calm their “fight or flight” response.

 

Through the therapeutic process, we work together to help you to feel more in control of your life.


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