What is Counseling and Therapy?
Many people think you have to be "sick" before seeking out therapy, but this isn't true. Just as you don't have to be drowning before taking swimming lessons, your life doesn't have to be falling apart before seeking therapy. If you are in some way confused, anxious or dissatisfied with your life...with your work, family, love life, or friends...an early psychological consultation may help you deal with problems before they become critical.
The experience of therapy differs for everyone since each therapist and each individual entering therapy is unique. Therapy is a special kind of relationship. The purpose of this relationship is to help change your life. In a way, therapy is similar to taking a college course with "you" as the subject, the center of attention. You are both student and teacher, learning about yourself as you share your experiences with the therapist.
Therapists are trained to identify patterns of behavior and thought you may not be aware of. Often old patterns can stand in your way, making change difficult or impossible. Therapists can help you break out of time-worn ruts and find new ways of living.
Children's language skills are often not developed well enough to use talking therapy. Instead, play therapy is often prescribed, and uses play as the medium of expression for children to act out concerns. The therapist then uses language with the child to clarify and work through problems. Parents and other adults are often used adjunctively in child therapy.
Sometimes a whole family will be seen together. By focusing on the interactions among the family members the therapist can help the family system to function more healthily.
When you work with a therapist, the first sessions are spent developing a trusting relationship. The therapist learns about your life; what you do, your background, expectations you have about therapy, your goals, and dilemmas. Therapy is very private. You may talk openly about what is on your mind without fear of anyone outside finding out about it. By talking and expressing your emotions, the pain subsides and you feel a sense of relief.
During the first sessions, you set up a schedule of appointments and tentatively work out how long you may need to continue in order to relieve your stress and work on your issues. Often, one day a week for two or three months is required, depending on how much work needs to be done and how much time you want to invest. The length of time can be adjusted as new insights are made or new problems appear.