How do I know when it is time to begin therapy?
The short answer to this question is: as soon as you begin to wonder if it might be a good idea. If you are reading this now, it has occurred to you to question whether or not counseling could help you with something that is bothering you in your life. Are you feeling stuck and confused about why you keep making the same mistakes over and over again? Have you lost your motivation to try new things, work towards goals or even set goals for yourself? Do you feel like the world is against you and you don’t know why? Are you constantly worrying about what might happen next or always asking “what if?”? If any of these questions sound like something you have heard in your own head, now is definitely the time to begin counseling.
I like to use the Rule of 3 when talking to potential clients about beginning counseling. If you have had the same fight with your partner three times and nothing has been resolved, it is time to begin counseling. If you have had the same argument with yourself three times and nothing has been resolved, it is time to begin counseling. Let me explain this. By the time we have had the same argument three times, a pattern has started to emerge. When patterns emerge, we often engage in the pattern in an unconscious way. This means that we start to lose sight of what is happening inside of us that is causing us to be upset. We often blame the other person or an outside situation for causing our unhappiness and we lose the ability to understand our part in it.
I’m ready for couples counseling, but my partner is not. What should I do?
It is very common for one person in the relationship to be ready and willing to participate in couples counseling before the other person is ready. You can come in as an individual and still work on the relationship. Even when working as an individual, you will be able to shift the dynamic in the relationship so that the same patterns do not keep happening over and over. Your partner may become intrigued by the changes you are making and decide to join you at a later time.
How often will I need to come in for therapy sessions?
You and I will work together to make that decision since it depends on your therapy goals, your schedule and your financial situation. Ideally I like to meet with new clients once a week so that I can learn more about you and find the patterns that are not helping you. If weekly sessions do not fit into your schedule, you and I will develop a plan that will be beneficial to you.
I have really good friends. Why do I need a therapist?
Friends and family members have the best intentions when talking to you about the problems in your life. The problem is that they are emotionally involved and cannot give you an unbiased perspective. When you work with me, I am able to reflect back to you the goals that you have for yourself and the barriers to achieving those goals. I may have to ask you some difficult questions that a friend or family member would not be comfortable asking you. I also have years of training and experience that allow me to know what to ask you and when it is appropriate to ask you tough questions. You cannot hurt my feelings or let me down if you are not progressing quickly. You and I are a team that will work diligently to get you the tools that you need to achieve your goals.
Am I going to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder?
Diagnosing people with mental health disorders is something that I am qualified to do and will only do if it is important to you to receive that diagnosis. Due to the fact that I do not bill insurance companies, there is no reason to label you with a number or a diagnosis. You and I will work together to focus on your therapy goals and we will not become distracted or misdirected by an unnecessary diagnosis.
How long should I expect to be in therapy?
The answer to this question has a lot to do with your willingness to make and keep regular appointments and how much work you are willing to do between appointments. It is never my goal to keep clients in my practice longer than they need to be there. Generally I will meet with a client once a week until the client feels like s/he does not have much to talk about. At that point we will agree to meet twice a month, then once a month. By the time we have met monthly for two months, most clients who have done the work between sessions will take a break from therapy and call at a later time when they feel like they have something that they need to address.