First, allow me to dispel a surprisingly common notion held by people who have never before been to therapy: you will not be lying on a couch, talking to the ceiling while a silent therapist (who has a white beard and round black spectacles) sits behind you, taking notes. This isn’t psychoanalysis, and I prefer that you sit on my couch!
Psychotherapy isn’t easily defined because there are numerous theoretical orientations and even more types of interventions. Many researchers have worked to establish its scientific, evidence-based underpinnings, but it has always been very much an art, like all of the healing arts. What all psychotherapy has in common is a professional relationship between a therapist and a client or patient, in which both work to achieve the client’s goals.
New clients often ask, “How long will this take?” Unfortunately, the only good and true answer is, “It depends.” One client may need only a few sessions to accomplish their goals, while others may want a longer course of support to maintain their progress or to work on additional goals. The course of therapy will vary, depending on the particular issues that a client wants help with, the therapist’s level of expertise with those issues, and the personalities of both the client and the therapist. It’s important that client and therapist have “a good fit” in terms of the working relationship; all of that research has shown that the therapeutic relationship is the single-most important factor in therapy outcomes!
Unlike your interactions with medical doctors or other practitioners of the healing arts, you must be actively involved with each part of your course of psychotherapy. It will require effort on your part–during and between sessions. The first and foremost part of this effort is that you are honest with yourself and with your therapist.
Psychotherapy has both benefits and risks.
Psychotherapy often leads to a significant reduction of distress, better relationships, and resolution of specific problems. However, there can be no guarantees about what your particular experience will be. The risks of psychotherapy may include feelings of frustration, fear, anger, and sadness, because in therapy, you are encouraged to “stir up the muck” so you can sort it out. So you may find yourself recalling unpleasant aspects of your life history that you’d rather ignore, even though they are still having an important impact on you today. You may need to talk about things that are difficult to discuss. Your therapy will also probably involve making some changes in your habitual ways of doing things–and this may feel difficult, at first. Also, you may have new insights into yourself and/or others that may initially feel uncomfortable to you.
Professional Standards & the Therapeutic Relationship
As your therapist, I’m committed to maintaining the highest professional standards in provision of therapeutic services. I use an integrative approach to therapy, combining aspects of insight-oriented, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, transpersonal, and humanistic theoretical orientations. Your treatment will be provided in the context of a warm, caring and professional relationship, with therapeutic goals mutually agreed upon by you and me.