Therapy (psychotherapy, counselling) is a form of treatment that involves speaking with a professional about any issues pertaining to mental health. This can include a wide range of topics from decision making to managing moods and can be done individually, as a couple, family or group. Client(s) and therapist work collaboratively to discuss concerns and work towards attaining therapy goals.
Therapy helps clients to identify potential issues, change unwanted habits or behaviours, express emotions and learn new ways to cope and ultimately live the life that they want to live.
Therapists are trained to be active listeners who respond with empathy, and non judgment and ask questions that probe further insight, perspectives and offer helpful skills. They are often trained in different types of treatment modalities that are scientifically proven to help with particular issues. Some specialise in certain areas or treatment modalities which is important to keep in mind when looking for a therapist.
Chances are if you are asking yourself this question, you should see a therapist. There are many reasons why people go to therapy. Some common reasons include:
People from all walks of life go to therapy, no matter what class, race, sex, sexual orientation etc.
Therapists are bound by confidentiality, meaning that they cannot share your private information with anybody without your consent. With that being said there are a few exceptions to this rule: If the client is a risk to themselves or others, if there is a court order to release information or if there is suspicion that there is a child or elder at risk of abuse. These will always be discussed with the therapist in the first session and you will be required to sign a consent form.
Therapists often offer a consultation for about 15 minutes as a way for both the potential client and therapist can have a conversation to determine if it would be a good fit for both. The therapist will want to get a general idea of what brings you to therapy and let you know about themselves and their experience and how they can help you. This is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you might have. Here are some questions to ask during your consult:
Some people will have a few consults with different therapists until they find someone they feel is a good fit. You do not have to schedule a session during the consultation.
Depending on the issues and people involved therapy can be carried out individually, as a couple or in a group.
Sessions are generally 50 minutes long (this varies) and in general it is once a week dependening on overall goals and this can be worked out with the therapist. Some people go weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or whenever they feel they need it.
The amount of therapy sessions greatly depends on the issues that are being discussed, the type of treatment being used and what the client wants. Some people may find their goals are achieved in a few sessions, some people go for years.
Sessions vary depending on the individual therapists style, training, as well as what treatment modality is being used. Generally there is time spent catching up and discussing how things have been since the last session. A time to address the things that are currently of concern and time spent problem solving. Some therapists also provide “homework” to be done between sessions to help practice new skills.