- What is Psychotherapy?
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Brief, Solution-Focused Therapy
- Long-Term & Dynamic Psychotherapy
- Why Psychotherapy?
- Can Psychotherapy Help You?
- Finding the Right Therapist
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a learning situation where you can learn to understand and control your emotions and behavior, make new changes in your behavior, or increase your self-understanding.
Psychotherapy can also help relieve you from emotional distress or make progress toward fuller self-awareness.
Psychologists are not just people who give you advice, and therapy is not simple problem-solving.
Therapy produces change in your life, but not because of advice you get from the psychologist. Psychotherapy is a much richer experience. It is a specialized technique that is effective in helping you cope with a wide range of difficulties and can produce lasting changes in your life.
The foundation of psychotherapy is the relationship you establish with your psychologist. Psychotherapy is an interpersonal process – the therapist communicates understanding, respect, and helpfulness to you.
The therapist strives to communicate understanding of your difficulties in order to help you share in this understanding.
The therapist’s training allows them to understand your psychological difficulties far more fully than an untrained person, and it provides them techniques for communicating this understanding in ways that you can comprehend and accept.
Therapy is not a mutual relationship, like a friendship. In therapy, your interests, needs, and welfare always come first.
The therapist always focuses on understanding and interpreting your behavior, and only brings their own feelings and experiences into the situation when it would facilitate your treatment.
Formal arrangements are different from other interpersonal relationships, and include things like having a regularly scheduled meeting time that is uninterrupted and focusing only on matters concerning your psychological health and adjustment.
The goal of psychotherapy is to relieve your emotional distress, modify personality characteristics that might prevent you from realizing your potential, or help you to enjoy rewarding interpersonal relationships.
Both symptom relief and positive personality change are goals of psychotherapy, and are achieved by helping you to understand yourself better.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT begins with a careful and thorough assessment of your particular problem and is highly goal directed in nature. Specific remedies are developed for specific problems. Problems are improved by altering maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.The present context is emphasized, rather than your past history. The goal of CBT is to prevent the recurrence of problematic thoughts and behaviors, allowing you new choices and different responses to life.
Brief, Solution-Focused Therapy
The basic premise of solution-focused therapy is to increase what is working and decrease what isn’t working. Therapy usually focuses on the present situation, and only uses information from your past when it bears on your present problem.
One assumption in solution-focused therapy is that you bring a lot of personal strengths to coping in your life. The goal of solution-focused therapy is to increase and build on these strengths. The focus of therapy is on building workable solutions for the challenges you face.
Long-Term & Dynamic Psychotherapy
Longer-term psychotherapy has many variations. For people who wish to explore deeper levels of understanding and gain increased insight into their behavior and inner world, long-term therapy is an option.
My emphasis is psychodynamic and relational, which means that we explore early relationships, childhood and other significant life experiences, and your experience of how you relate to yourself and to me in the therapy room. I generally provide long-term therapy only for clients who have completed a course of brief or cognitive-behavioral therapy, or for clients who have a problem best treated by this method.
The goal of long-term therapy is to resolve early conflicts and develop a healthier relationship to yourself and others. This is achieved through an exploration of those conflicts, emotions, and relationships that have formed your world. Successful psychotherapy results in new psychological insight, additional choices, better expression and experience of feelings, positive behavior change, and improved satisfaction in relationships.
Most people are not sure exactly what psychotherapy is and who can benefit from it.
In short, good therapy is a way to improve your experience of life, a way to increase your joy in living, a way to curtail or end emotional suffering, a way to boost your personal productivity, or a way to learn how to create loving, honest relationships with others.
Good psychotherapy is one of the best things you can do to improve your experience of life.
Even today, most people still think you have to be “crazy” to need therapy. There has always been a stigma associated with psychotherapy, but times are changing.
While the term “mentally ill” certainly applies to some people who need psychological help, for most people, the model of injury is a more appropriate conceptualization.
There are differences between an medical illness and an injury, just as there are differences between a mental illness and a “mental injury.”
Each of us experiences difficulties at some point in our life – usually after a major life event. Therapy is most effective for basically healthy people who have experienced a major life event (a mental or emotional injury) – the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, a job or career change, etc.
Psychologists are experts at helping people find their way through life’s difficulties, as well as creating new personal opportunities. We all face stress at some point in our lives, and it can be caused by things like relationship problems, physical illness, work stress, substance abuse or addiction, and career or family conflicts.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression can often accompany these and other life challenges.
When you need to talk to someone who can help, you need an experienced, licensed psychologist.
Therapy with a psychologist can help you get back on track, and can help you enhance your quality of life.
Can Psychotherapy Help You?
While therapy can help most people overcome life difficulties, not every person who is struggling with a life transition needs therapy.
Many people heal their minor emotional wounds by relying on friends or family for support. Other people might learn from books or support groups.
There are many approaches to psychological healing, and therapy is just one of them.
However, the unique aspects of therapy make it an extremely useful tool. Therapy occurs in a unique relationship that cannot be found elsewhere.
Could therapy improve your life? Consider these questions…
- Do you rarely feel joy in living?
- Do you lack an open, honest, loving relationship with another person?
- Have you had a recent, major disruption or change in your life?
- Do you feel disconnected from others in your life?
- Is there no one in your life who you care about that knows most everything about your life?
- Do you feel uncomfortable crying in front of the person you love most?
- Are you unable to express love to your family and friends?
- Can you express your own thoughts and emotions only when using alcohol or drugs?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to find out how therapy could be of benefit to you.
If you’re not sure whether therapy could be of benefit to you, consider contacting me for an initial consultation.
I’d be happy to hear about your situation and make a recommendation. If your needs don’t fall within my scope of practice, I’ll help you find an appropriate referral.
Finding the Right Therapist
You might think that finding a therapist is like shopping for something, and that what you get from one therapist is basically what you’ll get from another.
While it may seem that this is true, finding the right therapist is more about the match between you and the therapist than the therapist alone.
It’s important to feel understood, safe, and comfortable with the therapist you choose.
If the therapist is a good fit for you, you should feel a sense of relief and validation by the comments they make.
It’s important to take the time to find someone you feel you can trust and that you enjoy talking with.
You have a right to expect acceptance, and know that your psychologist will not pass judgment on you. Because psychotherapy is an interpersonal process, it is very important that your psychologist possess good interpersonal skills such as the ability to express warmth, empathy, and the quality of being genuine.
A good psychologist will be able to create an environment of safety, security, and trust. You want to look for a psychologist that is direct, honest, personal, and authentic.
Training and credentials, for example, a valid license, are critical elements in determining the quality of your therapy. You should also look for a psychologist that adheres to a code of ethics and provides a high quality of care.
The consumer resource materials on this website can help you understand the standards of practice.
When you contact me for an appointment, we’ll schedule an initial consultation to determine whether we could work well together.
If your needs fall outside of my scope of practice, or if there is not a good “fit” between you and I, I’ll provide you with appropriate referrals to other qualified providers.
For More Information
Prospective clients usually have questions about whether therapy might work for them, or whether their goals are appropriate for therapy, so please ask!
If you have questions about therapy – please contact me.