Common Questions People Ask Before Starting Therapy
How can therapy help me?
The focus of psychotherapy is always to help you feel differently, but it can help in a few different ways. In a fundamental way, it helps by not leaving you alone with issues that are bothering you. We can work together to help you feel differently, but in a unique relationship where you don't need to worry about the repercussions of what you're saying in the same way you might feel if you shared it with a friend or family member. Therapy also helps by giving you the space to do deep, important work--both emotionally and intellectually. We rarely have the gift of time and space to be with everything that we are feeling. Therapy is designed to give you that space. And, by giving yourself that space, you can often find new ways of being in the world that feel less troublesome.
What will we discuss in therapy?
We can discuss any topic of your choosing in therapy. The most important thing to know is that you are in charge of the conversation. I will always make suggestions or point in directions that seem relevant, but I will not make you talk about anything that you do not want to talk about.
Can you give me advice?
Yes and no.
What I will not do is "give advice" in the sense of telling you what to do. The goal of a therapist is not to make decisions for you in any area of your life. I believe you are ultimately the expert on what is best for you, whether you realize it or not in any given moment, and any change that you decide to make will be much more permanent with the weight of your conscious acknowledgement and decision-making behind it.
What I will do is make observations about what is or isn't working for you, suggest alternative perspectives or methods to build your coping skill set, and brainstorm with you to accomplish your goals. My goal at all times is to work collaboratively with you to identify and make the changes you desire, both in and out of session, in a concrete and lasting way.
How long should psychotherapy take?
How long psychotherapy takes depends on several factors: the type of problem or disorder, the client's characteristics and history, the client's goals, what's going on in the client's life outside psychotherapy and how fast the client is able to make progress. Some people feel relief after only a single session of therapy, while some benefit after a few sessions. Other people and situations take longer--maybe a year or two--to benefit from psychotherapy. Others continue psychotherapy even after they solve the problems that brought them here initially. That's because they continue to experience new insights, improved well-being and better functioning.