What is therapy anyhow?

If you've never been to see a therapist or counselor before, you may have some preconceived notions about what it is we do.  There have been many misrepresentations of what therapy looks like in movies and tv and few that have portrayed it accurately. The truth though is that it doesn't look the same for every client, or with every therapist.  Broadly speaking, therapy includes confidential interactive processes between a person or group and a qualified mental health professional. More specifically, its purpose is the exploration of feelings, behaviors and thoughts to increase problem solving skills or achieve higher levels of functioning. Therapy is a gift to oneself and strives to increase a sense of well-being. 

When you meet with me for our first session, I will gather a broad amount of information about what brought you to therapy, your history, your childhood and family of origin, your current relationships, your medical health, and more. This will help me get to know you and will help point us in the direction we need to go. The first session typically lasts 80 minutes as there can be a lot to cover. Over the course of the next few sessions we will collaborate on treatment goals. In other words, specific areas of your functioning that you would like to see progress or change in. These goals can be altered along the way if other issues become more pressing, but they serve as a helpful guidepost.  Regular therapy sessions last 50 minutes and we may utilize that time in a variety of ways. Sometimes you may need to just "process" an event (recent or old) and help increase your understanding of it and explore alternative perspectives, while improving your self-awareness. Other times we may utilize relaxation, guided imagery or mindfulness techniques to help learn tools for coping with stress, anxiety and other difficult feelings. In certain situations, I may utilize more specialized techniques like prolonged exposure treatment for the treatment of trauma, or specific cognitive behavioral interventions that look at how your thoughts influence your feelings and behavior. Other times we may practice communication techniques and other specific relationship improving interventions. My approach is eclectic and certainly not one size fits all. We are all so very similar in our human experiences but also unique in our individual story and temperament.