About Psychotherapy

• What is psychotherapy? It is the process of talking with a trained professional to develop greater clarity about how one's life is going, to become more comfortable with oneself, and to develop options for greater freedom. Psychotherapy involves exploring feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and relevant events, sometimes from childhood and personal history, to establish a greater understanding of oneself and one's motivations and to gain additional skills to deal with life circumstances. At our Clinic, our therapists are being trained as clinical psychologists.
• What can I expect of the first several sessions? In the first session, the therapist will want to learn from you about what has brought you in to therapy. He/she is likely to ask a lot of questions in order to understand your concerns from your perspective, to learn about the contexts in which those concerns have emerged, and to learn about how best to work with you. The intake interview can move quickly and cover a lot of territory; therapy will slow down and let you take more initiative about what is talked about, and allow you to reflect between sessions. In the second session, the therapist is likely to make use of a couple of psychological tests as tools for the both of you to talk further about your concerns and what you want out of therapy.
• What are the psychological tests looking for? We may want to see how you compare with other people, and whether there are themes that didn't come up in the intake interview. The clinician will ask for your clarifications of anything that came up through the tests that might be different from what was already discussed. And you can ask questions about your test patterns. Working with the tests can be collaborative.
• How long does psychotherapy last? That depends on the person. Some people find that half a dozen weekly meetings have provided ample opportunity to regroup and to continue progressing on their own. Other people continue for a couple of years, taking advantage of therapy being a process in which earlier themes and insights get reworked in light of new experiences.
• How often will I meet with my therapist? Again, that depends on the person and his or her situation. Weekly is most typical, but sometimes both you and the therapist might think that twice weekly sessions allow for greater discussion.
• What if I don't seem to "click" with my therapist? You should say so to your therapist. Most often, together you find out what it is that's not working, and the two of you shift accordingly as you clarify each other's assumptions. Throughout your therapy, you can initiate discussion about the therapist's goals and techniques, and about your progress. Active clients get the most from their therapy.
• But what if I still don't feel that there is a good fit with my therapist? Then you can ask your therapist and/or the Assistant to the Director to facilitate a transfer to another therapist. You can also talk with the Clinic Director if you'd like. Therapy doesn't work well if the client remains dissatisfied with the match.
• How does psychotherapy work? Through having a safe place and time all of your own to share your concerns and reflections, you can become more aware of yourself, of how you impact others, and of options. As you develop a trusting relationship with the therapist, you can become more aware and accepting of yourself and more able to make positive changes in your life.
• How do I tell if therapy is working? You will find that you're becoming ever more comfortable with yourself, accepting what can't be changed, and more open to trying yourself out in new ways. Signs of distress will diminish as therapy goes on, and you recognize what you're anxious about and what your best ways of coping with that are. You may also find that you become more resilient to face the problems that originally brought you to therapy. Therapy nearly always has its ups and downs, but the overall course is growthful.
• What if I am interested in medication to help with anxiety or depression? You'll discuss that with your therapist, and if you both agree, he or she will make an appointment with our consulting psychiatrist, who will meet with both of you together at the Clinic. Our consulting psychiatric is here one half day a month.
• Do the clinic therapists follow a particular school of therapy? Our therapists study many theories because theories help us to understand our clients. Primarily, our therapists are training in psychodynamic, analytical, humanistic, existential, relational, and developmental perspectives. We know that everyone is influenced by experiences growing up and by current circumstances, and that to be most helpful the therapist should enter into the client's own ways of understanding and coping with life. Sometimes you will talk about your dreams; sometimes you'll laugh together about a "Freudian slip"; sometimes you'll agree to try a new behavior during the week. Your therapist will often ask you if you've thought about this or that, or whether such and such could be true. But he or she will not tell you what to do or explain you to yourself.
• How do I know how long to stay in therapy? If you think you might be running away from dealing with an issue, then it's probably premature to leave. Otherwise you and your therapist will talk about how therapy is going. It's good to review goals and progress regularly, sometimes adding and removing goals. Very often the client and therapist agree to stop meeting, and the client goes on to continue growing, knowing that he or she can resume therapy either very briefly or longer term at some point that seems right. It's always advisable to meet for a closing session to review your achievements and talk about your plans.