Common Questions

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

People have many different motivations for coming to therapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (significant loss, separation/divorce, becoming a parent, career change, unemployment, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, unresolved trauma, grief and loss, identity issues, sexuality issues, sexual difficulties, and substance abuse. 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 therapy are ready to meet the challenges and ready to make changes in their lives. 

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

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 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. 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 whatever challenges you face. 

How can therapy help me?

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, 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

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, usually weekly or biweekly, with your therapist.
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 therapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives, and take responsibility for their lives.   

How long does it usually take to start to feel better?  
This depends on several factors including: 1) the issue(s) and severity of the issue(s), 2) the client's motivation to change, 3) the goal(s) of therapy, and 4) the client's current life circumstances.  Most clients often feel better after the first session.


What about medication vs. therapy? 

You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.  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 symptoms, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. 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. 
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and therapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter. You can expect that what you discuss in sessions will not be shared with anyone. In some cases, you may want your therapist to share information or provide an update regarding your progress to other professionals (i.e. your family physician, psychiatrist, acupuncturist, naturopath, employer, lawyer, etc.), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without first obtaining your written consent. 
However, there are three conditions under which therapists are ethically and legally bound to share information with others:

  • When there is a risk of imminent danger to yourself or others.
  • When there is reasonable suspicion that a child or any vulnerable person is being sexually, physically, or emotionally/psychologically abused or neglected, or is at risk of such abuse.
  • When the court issues a subpoena regarding information that has been shared in therapy or obtained as part of an assessment. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have other questions or would like more information.

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