What is the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication. Social Workers are licensed professionals who provide counseling and do not prescribe medication. We specialize in understanding people and their issues from the individual, family and society perspectives.
Should I take medication or go into psychotherapy?
It is a fact that the long-term solution to mental/emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved by medication. Instead of treating the symptom, therapy addresses the causes of distress and the behavior patterns that block progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working closely with your psychiatrist you can determine what’s best for you, and in some cases a combination of both medication and therapy is the right answer.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
No! The opposite is true. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason aren’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in your current situation.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
A family member or friend may have strong feelings about your situation and will readily give you advice and opinions whereas a social worker like myself will listen without telling you what to do. I will help you come to your own best conclusion after exploring all the information available. 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.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, and if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session or in the real world.
How long will it take?
Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular weekly sessions initially, and then space them out as you see progress.
If I commit to therapy, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of therapy?
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, if you are receptive to “homework,” I can suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your progress – such as practicing new skills, journaling on a specific topic, reading a pertinent book, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. It’s all about you.
How will I know treatment is working?
You may find that you sleep better, find your sense of humor returns, and have a more positive attitude. You will be less likely to over-react to ordinary situations and old thoughts and feelings will give way to new ideas. In other words, you will accumulate positive experiences; or grow.