A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, life transitions, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications 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
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking 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. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome the challenges you face.
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are having difficulty handling stressful circumstances. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
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. The length of therapy also depends on your progress toward the agreed upon therapy goals. Whether short or longer-term therapy, 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, or noting the frequency of particular thoughts or behaviors. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes, are open to new perspectives, and are willing to take responsibility for their lives.
When it comes to whether or not your faith is integrated into therapy, the therapist should follow your lead. For some, this is not something you desire to have incorporated into your therapy, and that should be respected. For others, this is a very important part of your life and likely has an impact on the other areas of your life. Therefore, you may want your faith to play a role in therapy, and you can discuss what that might look like with your therapist.
Sometimes one partner is ready to begin couples therapy while the other is hesitant or even resistant. While it is most beneficial to come to therapy together to address relationship struggles, when the partner who is ready begins individual therapy they tend to discover ways in which they can grow and heal that often leads to changes within the relationship. All this to say, unless your partner has said that they are likely to be willing to participate in therapy in the near future, you do not necessarily need to put therapy off until your partner is ready.
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 hinder our 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.
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust due to the personal subject matter that is discussed. Every therapist should address confidentiality with their clients at the initial session as part of what is called "Informed Consent." You can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone unless it is one of the exceptions to confidentiality listed below. Also, there are some instances when you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Psychiatrist, or your child's teacher). However, 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, dependent adults, or elders. A report must be made to the appropriate authorities: Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services, or law enforcement based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect that the client is in serious danger of harming him or herself, or has threatened to harm another person.