Some frequently asked questions about entering counseling:
- What can I expect during the first appointment? The first few sessions are meant for me to get to know you and understand the nature of your problem. You can expect that I will ask questions related to your presenting issue, make comments and ask for clarification. Typically, I spend the first appointments assessing the nature of your problem and addressing your most pressing concerns first.
- How long is the session? The typical adult counseling session lasts 60 minutes. Group therapy and family therapy can sometimes last longer depending on the frequency of the sessions per week and the particular family.
- How long does therapy last? There is no universal length that services all people. It takes time to make long-lasting changes in your life but people usually begin to notice changes within a few months of therapy, sometimes even sooner.
- When is a good time to start therapy? Most people start therapy when they no longer feel in control or are able to cope on their own. It usually feels like “I cannot bear this any more!” Ideally, it is best to seek out professional help before you reach this crisis point but any time is better than never!
- Do I have to talk about my feelings? It depends on what you are struggling with but since feelings are an integral part of the human experience, chances are, you may need to process them one way or another.
- Are issues resolved by medication or other tools? This is a complex question with varying opinions in the mental health profession. Simply, research shows that treatment of mental health issues is most effective when it includes medication and therapy combined versus one or the other alone. However, there is such thing as overprescribing of medication and over diagnosing of mental illness in the United States versus other countries in the world, where the emphasis is on the psychological as opposed to the medical model. Not all issues require medication and I have seen clients, who have been on medication for years with limited results in resolving the underlying problem, which is often psychological in nature. Yet, sometimes, medication is necessary and in those cases I collaborate with psychiatrists to ensure the best treatment for my clients.
- Are you going to think I am crazy if I told you …? Therapists are there to treat you with what we call unconditional positive regard. There is hardly anything that you can say that would surprise or shock me.
- Is it okay to talk about sex in therapy? There is nothing you cannot talk about in therapy – from your dreams and fears to your sexual fantasies, wishes and frustrations. It is all OKAY.
- Is it normal to have had suicidal thoughts? Many people have thought about their own death in one shape or form. If you are often thinking about how you want to end your life, however, you may be at higher risk of suicide and seeking out therapy may be beneficial. Typically, there are reasons why people do not want to live anymore and many are treatable.
- Is it normal to have questioned my faith and can I talk about that in therapy? Doubt is one of the most human experiences. Everything human is normal and okay to bring up in therapy.
- How do I know if therapy is working? Typically, you know that therapy is working when the symptoms that brought you in begin to dissipate. For example, you came with overwhelming anxiety and that has decreased since you started therapy.