FAQs About Psychotherapy
Psychology is a fascinating subject. It can often bring up many questions. One area of psychology that is particularly intriguing to many people is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a treatment for emotional and psychological disorders through therapeutic conversations with a trained professional specializing in mental health issues. It can relieve stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, relationship issues, and other concerns.
Here are some frequently asked questions - - FAQs about psychotherapy to help you better understand this treatment. Common topics include who benefits from therapy, how to find a therapist, what happens during a session, how long will therapy take, and how much it costs. I hope these FAQs will give you some insight into the world of psychotherapy so that you can make an informed decision about what's suitable for you and your needs.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is integral to mental health care. It involves talking to a trained psychotherapist about your thoughts and feelings to improve your emotional well-being. Psychotherapy can address issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and other mental health concerns. The goal of psychotherapy is for you to live the life you want. Who benefits from therapy varies based on diagnosis, situation, connection to the mental health provider, and motivation level.
What are the benefits of psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy can help you gain insight. It can help you understand your emotions and behaviors. You can focus on whatever you want to change in your life. Psychotherapy can help you develop coping strategies to deal with life's challenges. You can address current problems and make preventive changes to improve your life. Working with a therapist can help you improve relationships with your partner, family members, friends, and colleagues.
Communication issues are often at the core of tension or conflict. Psychotherapy can also help you make positive lifestyle changes related to stress management, healthy eating habits, self-esteem, improving sleep, increasing motivation, managing chronic illness, and more.
Who benefits from therapy?
Psychotherapy can help anyone who whats to make changes in their life. You just have to want something different for yourself and show up for sessions ready to explore new ideas.
Psychotherapy can help individuals, couples, and families with any number of issues, from relationship problems and conflict to supporting a family member with addiction issues or a chronic illness. It is common to come to therapy for help coping with life transitions like leaving home for college, getting married, changing jobs, moving to a different city, having children, getting divorced, or caregiving for an elderly family member. You can address any change you are struggling with with a mental health professional.
Therapy can support you through emotional, mental, and behavioral issues. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, or trauma, working with a counselor can help you find a way to improve your quality of life. You can use therapy to address issues such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or anger management problems. There are really no limits to what you can work on in therapy.
You don't have to wait until issues become overwhelming and impact every part of your life to start seeing a therapist. You can start therapy as soon you notice a problem developing. The answer to "who benefits from therapy" could be you.
What therapy is best for me?
There are two basic categories of therapy categories manualized and not manualized. Manualized therapy has a step-by-step process that the therapist follows with every client. It is a by-the-book therapy that depends on a protocol from a textbook-like manual.
Interventions are performed with specific guidelines for administration, closely following the guidelines to provide consistency from client to client. This kind of therapy often includes worksheets and homework. It can delve into your past to find where your issues originated and often looks at your childhood family dynamics.
I do not use manualized therapy techniques. They can make it difficult to tailor therapy to individual needs or adapt to your specific situation. None of my clients are "textbook cases," and they need a more individualized approach. Many of my clients have seen several therapists who use manualized modalities before they come to me. They describe their past therapy experiences as unhelpful some even complain that it made things worse.
Academic institutions, researchers, and governing boards often promote manualized therapies. In higher education and many mental health agencies, manuals for treatment based on theories have been embraced and frequently required. They are predictable, easier to study, and uniform. However, life isn't. Life is messy. Humans are complicated. Our problems don't fit neatly into little boxes lined up all in a row.
In recent years, there have been complaints by mental health providers with clinical experience regarding the effectiveness of manualized therapy in practice with real people. Some academics and experienced practicing psychotherapists have brought up concerns about following manuals that inhibit the ability to be flexible when treating clients.
Most research has focused on how therapists should apply the techniques in manuals instead of studying if manualized approaches are more effective than those not manualized. Luckily, there is now such a study.
The study asked if manuals actually increased the effectiveness of therapy. The researchers did a systematic review and found that therapists who strictly followed manuals had no better results than those who loosely followed manuals. Their final result was that there was no superiority of results with manualized therapy over those that did not use a manualized protocol.
So, the short answer to "what therapy is best for me" is that the actual modality is not as important as you might think. The one thing that research has proven over and over is that the therapeutic relationship, your connection with your therapist, is the most the piece that makes the most significant difference in your therapeutic results.
The best therapy for you is the therapy the therapist who you connect with does. In my experience, the therapy modality is more for the therapist than the client. It provides a framework that the therapist resonates with to create a comfortable therapy experience for you.
What's the difference between "counseling," "therapy," and "psychotherapy"?
For the most part, these three terms are interchangeable. They all refer to the process of speaking to a mental health professional to improve your life by addressing your social, emotional, and mental needs. "Therapy" is just a shortened version of "psychotherapy." You can consider "counseling" as a professional relationship, while psychotherapy is the process that takes place within the relationship. All that being said, there's no real difference worth dwelling on. The most important part is to find a thrapist you are comfortable with.
What is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT)?
In California, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and has completed at least 3,000 hours of required supervised clinical work experience. An LMFT has also passed the state-certified licensing exams.
The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) also requires 36 continuing education units every two years to maintain the license in good standing. An AMFT has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and is working on completing the required 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience to qualify to take the licensing exam.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. My LMFT number with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences is 119841.
What is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) or Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC)?
A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and has completed at least 3,000 hours of required supervised clinical work experience. An LPCC has passed a National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.
The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) also requires 36 continuing education units every two years to maintain the license in good standing. A Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselor has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and is working on completing the required 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience before the licensing exam can be taken to become an LPCC.
What is the difference between Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling?
LMFTs and LPCCs have very similar education and licensing requirements. Practically speaking, there's not much difference between the two.
For the most part, Marriage and Family Therapists -- not surprisingly -- focus on mental health issues related to marriage and family. So, an LMFT will tend to view their client's problems through the perspective of marriage and family, emphasizing relationships. Licensed Professional Clinical Traditionally, counselors tend to view their client's concerns from the perspective of the client as they relate to the larger world around them, not focused on family and marriage.
I have completed the educational requirements and the supervised hours to be a Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I am still deciding if I will take the exam to become an LPCC.
Here are some technical definitions and rules about LMFTs and LPCCs. According to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences:
"the practice of marriage and family therapy shall mean that service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments. This practice includes relationship and premarriage counseling.
The application of marriage and family therapy principles and methods includes, but is not limited to, the use of applied psychotherapeutic techniques, to enable individuals to mature and grow within marriage and the family, the provision of explanations and interpretations of the psychosexual and psychosocial aspects of relationships, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by [California Business and Professions Code] Sections 4980.37, 4980.40, and 4980.41."
California Business and Professions Code Section 4999.20 (a) states:
(1) "Professional clinical counseling" means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by Sections 4999.32 and 4999.33. "Professional clinical counseling" includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions."
How do I choose which mental health professional is the best fit for me?
All California Licensed professionals (Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), LMFTs, LPCCs, and Psychologists) are qualified to provide psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and family groups. Each professional is likely trained in certain techniques and philosophies. Find a therapist who has experience with your concern. Most importantly, be comfortable with the person you choose and be able to make a personal connection. You need to feel safe and trust our therapist so you can bring up anything that is getting in the way of your goals. The focus of therapy should be to help you become empowered and able to live the life you want. If you know your counselor in invested, believes in you and wants you to succeed, being ope and hones becomes easier.
How do I find a therapist?
Finding the right psychotherapist can be a daunting task. Finding a therapist who is a good fit for you is vital. Research shows that your therapeutic relationship with your therapist is an essential part of the therapeutic process. You must feel comfortable and trust that your therapist cares and has your back.
Your mental health and well-being require support from someone with whom you can be open and honest and talk about your hopes and dreams without feeling embarrassed or on the spot. A good therapist will never dismiss anything you say. You will be accepted unconditionally. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma, or some other issue, there are several steps you can take to ensure you find the best therapist for you.
To find a therapist, start by researching online and asking friends, family members, or your doctor if they have any recommendations. You can extend your online search to include the whole state of California to give yourself a better chance of finding a good fit.
In larger cities, therapists have waiting lists. Widening your search can help you find a qualified mental health provider with openings. It's also helpful to look into professionals who specialize in what you're dealing with, so you know they have experience with your issue. For example, if you're struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, search for a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety disorders.
When you meet with potential therapists, consider how comfortable you feel when talking to them. Are they friendly and relaxed? Do they give you a chance to ask questions? Do they make an effort to listen and understand?
What can I expect from an individual therapy session?
This is one of the most common FAQs about psychotherapy. Individual therapy is a powerful way to make meaningful changes in your life. Your therapy experience will depend on several variables. Once you find a therapist, the first variable depends on if your therapist uses manualized therapy or is client-led.
If your therapist practices manualized therapy, works with a clinic, or takes insurance, your first session will focus on paperwork and assessments. It could take up to three sessions for the therapist to collect the information needed to comply with insurance requirements and what is necessary to create a formal treatment plan for their therapy modality.
The second is the quality of the therapeutic relationship with your therapist. It is universally accepted in research and academic institutions that the therapeutic relationship is an essential element in successful treatment. When you find a therapist you are comfortable with to support you, you have a greater chance of success.
The third variable is based on what you want to work on in therapy. Each issue is different, and each person with similar symptoms presents differently.
You are different than any client I've ever worked with before. Your therapy will be for you. With me, you can expect a safe environment to discuss your thoughts, feelings, situations, and anything else you want. You decide what you want, and we will base each session on that. I will always listen respectfully with genuine interest and empathy. It is important to me that you feel comfortable and supported.
You will have the opportunity to determine your best hopes, share experiences, reflect, explore emotions and ways of thinking, and look at things from different perspectives. You can find coping skills and develop different ways of thinking that can help lead to lasting change. You can address various mental health, situational and relational issues.
The process will be highly individualized. After all, it's about you becoming the best version of yourself and living the life you want.
What to expect in marriage counseling and couples therapy
Marriage counseling and couples therapy helps partners address and work through relationship issues. It is about functioning as a team and supporting each other through the ups and downs of life.
You can expect a safe and confidential environment to discuss any issues in your relationship. Couples counseling can help you understand your partner's perspectives, improve communication skills, resolve conflicts, and promote teamwork.
What to expect from marriage counseling depends on what you want and how much you want.
In couples counseling sessions, we start by determining what each partner wants. We explore what your relationship will look like with those things present. Both of you will have the opportunity to answer every therapeutic question. You will be able to speak openly about feelings, perspectives, and experiences.
The goal is to help you communicate better, get on the same page and move forward together to build the life you want.
How long will therapy take?
The duration of therapy depends on your specific needs. Generally speaking, psychotherapy is a process that takes time, and people don't think of it as something you can expect to achieve overnight. However, everyone's experience with therapy is different. When you find a therapist you enjoy working with, therapy can go more smoothly.
Depending on what you want, your therapy can be short, medium, or long. I see clients for single-session therapy who work things out in one session and are finished. The majority of my clients feel finished after 8 - 12 sessions. Other clients like ongoing support. This group included clients with anxiety, bipolar, and chronic illness.
Some clients like to check in regularly when they finish the core part of their therapy. These clients want additional support with ongoing issues like parenting, decision-making, life transitions, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The answer to "how long will therapy take" is entirely up to you. Many therapists require weekly sessions to start. Most of my clients choose to begin with weekly sessions, but some prefer other schedules. When you work with me, you get to decide how often you want to meet, and when you are ready to stop meeting, we stop. I will always welcome you back when you need support.
Your therapy will last as long as you feel you are getting something useful out of our time together. You are in charge of how often you want to come and when you feel you have completed your therapy. The average number of sessions my clients attend is 10 - 12, but there is no exact answer to "how long will therapy take."
You are finished when you feel like your life is back on track, no matter how many sessions you have had. You are always free to change your mind and return whenever you want additional support. Many of my clients like to check in from time to time.
What is Solution Focused Brief Therapy?
Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is known for its brevity. We get right to what you want to work on. We work on finding solutions that fit with your personality and lifestyle. SFBT is not a manualized therapy. It is based on your immediate needs and helps you look at things from different perspectives.
The process integrates assessment, goals and progress throughout each session. This approach often significantly speeds up the therapeutic process. There is no standard time for treatment. When you’re done, you’re done. The therapist does not determine the length of your treatment. You do.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a technique that can help re-balance your central nervous system so you can function better. EMDR is most often used for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and debilitating fears. It can help surpass the overwhelm and pain caused by rape, childhood physical or sexual abuse, accidents or losses. EMDR uses Bilateral Stimulation to activate both sides of your brain to unblock memories and allow the release of upsetting emotions. The reprocessing helps you to see the past without reliving it. Disturbing events are seen differently and no longer hold distressing or debilitating thoughts and feelings.
I hope these FAQs about psychotherapy have clarified some things for you. If you have additional questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me by email or click below to schedule a free video or phone consultation. I'm happy to answer additional questions and support you in any way possible. You could be the one who benefits from therapy.