I’ve never talked to a therapist. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Asking for help puts you way ahead in the game of life. Needing help does not represent weakness rather a desire to learn from the challenges that are presented to us all at one time or another. Being teachable in our struggles gives us the greatest opportunity for growth from the challenge itself. When we can open ourselves up to reach for another’s extended hand, this will enable us to get back on our feet faster for the next time we are faced with difficulty.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” In addition, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, and you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better it’s easy to start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
How do I know if therapy or life coaching is a better fit for me?
First, it’s important to understand some aspects of how the two differ from each other.
Education, Certifications, Licensing: There are certification programs for life coaches but life coaches are not required to certify in order to coach. If life coaching is a direction you are wanting to learn more about, I recommend seeking a life coach who has achieved a certification credential.
Education for a Marriage and Family Therapist in California requires a Master’s Degree in Psychology, followed by 3,000 hours of supervised internship experience as a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT). After completing the requisite supervised internship, the candidate then must sit for two licensing exams governed by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.
Approaches for helping: People who have successful coaching experiences understand that, with a coach, they will receive practical, concrete feedback for their challenges. A specific plan for the client to practice these life skills outside the therapy room will be an important part of the coach’s approach. Therapy, on the other hand, may move into more of the underlying causes as to why the client’s situations are happening. Exploratory discussion about how these patterns have come to be and how they “show up” in present functioning can be important to treatment depending upon use.
Knowledge Base: Coaching can be a very appropriate model for clients who are able to reach out and receive help from various sources when challenging times occur as they do in life.
Coaching can impede a client’s progress when a coach is working with a client who may be struggling due to an undetected diagnosis. Coaches are not trained in diagnoses the same way therapists are. If an impending decline is present for the client, it would be best practice for the coach to refer their client to a licensed professional.
Therapists are trained to handle client diagnosis, resulting in safety risks.
My doctor is prescribing medication, do I need therapy too?
Medication is determined on a case by case basis. It can be an important part of the therapeutic healing process and its value for your diagnosis is decided upon between you and your doctor. Medication chemically alters how we respond in situations, which can be an important part of restructuring our habitual responses in triggering moments.
Therapy can enhance your Doctor’s recommendations by helping to reorganize old strategies, work through past regrets and utilizing ways to find peace in the present moment and creating a blueprint with steps toward success in your future hopes and goals.
What if I see you while I’m out and I don’t want the people I’m with to know I’m in therapy. What do I do?
This is one of the first things we discuss in our initial session. We will discuss scenarios we may have occasion to see each other out of the therapy room. You have the choice as to how you would like those situations handled between us. Prior discussion before a potential encounter brings mutual understanding behind each other’s actions. This can lead to confidence in navigating the “surprise” moment and strengthens the bond of the therapist/client relationship.
How will I know when I’m “fixed?”
The mindset of being “fixed” denotes that something is “broken.” Although we may, ofttimes, feel “broken” when beginning therapy, entering therapy is one of the bravest things anyone can do. Seeking therapy sends a message we need help. Acknowledging we need help offers us our greatest learning opportunities. There is nothing broken about someone seeking growth and healing. As for knowing when it’s time to terminate a therapeutic relationship, that is determined upon discussion along the way based upon the client’s goals upon entering.
Can I take a break from therapy?
Breaks from therapy can be an additional source of healing and serve the client in many clinical ways too. Understanding the reason for the break is an important tool to acknowledge so time away can be just as beneficial as time together.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I could work with only one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.
Can my partner join us for a session if I want?
This is done very rarely; if we have contracted for individual therapy. I trust you would communicate anything you’d like shared from our time together with your partner outside our sessions. If a partner joins a session, it would be important to make sure it was clinically appropriate and in your best interest as the client.