Though no one
can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a
brand new ending. ~ attributed to Carl Bard
The (Very) Basics of Psychotherapy
What is therapy?
There are probably as many answers to that question as there are
therapists My view is that therapy (also known as
psychotherapy or counseling) is a focused process that helps an individual,
couple or family find or create solutions to change how they are experiencing problems
or difficulties in life. Some problems can be solved more quickly than others and everyone has their own unique strengths, challenges and pace. This is why despite what other people you know may have experienced in therapy - your own experience will likely be very different.
How does therapy help?
Therapy relies on a trusting (or “therapeutic”)
relationship between the person seeking therapy and the therapist.
This relationship is built through a series of conversations over time. What I learn about you during these talks is important as it helps me to help you identify
solutions to the “problem.” You, then, try out these things out to
see if they actually help you make the changes you want to make and achieve the
goals you have set. Some things are easy to talk about and others may require more emotionally difficult conversations.
I use a strengths based approach to
therapy that is rooted in Motivational Interviewing and the Solution
Focused Brief Treatment Model. "Brief treatment" does not mean that there are a “prescribed” number of sessions or length
of time guiding the therapy. I (as well
as some researchers) have found that the strength of the therapeutic
relationship and your motivation for change will be the most important factors
in how long it takes to successfully achieve your goals.
How Does it Start?
Assessment: I'll ask a lot of questions in the beginning. Some will be about why you are
coming in, what you hope to get out of therapy and how you think
the problem is affecting your life. I'll also ask about you, your past experiences with
the problem, how you have solved other problems in your life, and some very personal questions - some of these will be
fairly easy to answer and others more difficult.
Treatment Plan: Your answers are used to
help create a plan for the therapy that is specific and unique to you. The
plan will include the reason(s) you came in for therapy, a
diagnosis (see below), the goals on which you want to focus, the
strengths you have that might
help you reach these goals, and your responsibilities in the therapy
process. You and I will review the plan together and make any changes
that you feel need to be made – after all, you are the customer and the
plan has to make
sense to you.
What is a diagnosis and why is it necessary?
A diagnosis is the name given to a collection of symptoms or
things that are bothering you. Diagnoses
are helpful because it helps us (therapists) think about ways to help that have worked with particular sets of symptoms.
Diagnoses are also required by insurance companies for reimbursement. All diagnoses are made using
the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV with Text Revisions” (DSM-IV TR)
which was developed by the American Psychiatric Association. I will always share with you any diagnosis I
make, the reasons I made it and the DSM-IV TR criteria for it.