Will therapy work for me? Do I really need therapy?
Therapy can be beneficial for anyone who desires change or increased understanding and awareness in their life. Even in seemingly unresolvable situations, a psychologist can provide a new, “outsider” perspective and research-based strategies to resolve a problem you’ve tried to manage yourself.
Many of my clients who have found therapy helpful relate to one or more of the following experiences:
- I’m often anxious or down about life and can’t enjoy myself.
- I think my friends and family are tired of me talking about something, but don’t know how to move on. It can feel like I’m alone.
- I have trouble initiating, maintaining, trusting, or enjoying relationships with others. (partners/spouses, family members, friends, co-workers, kids).
- I frequently feel overwhelmed/out of control or that my emotions are controlling me.
- I have difficulty letting go of bad things that have happened in the past, worries about the future, and/or being happy with the way things are right now.
- I want to change a habit or pattern, but need help starting or sticking to a plan (i.e., unhealthy relationships, insomnia, substance use, overspending, binge-eating, anger management).
- I’ve suffered a loss and would like support and guidance in my grief process from an expert.
- Recent changes have left me feeling more on-edge/anxious or low in energy or motivation. (new parent, retirement, divorce/separation, career change, empty-nester)
- I think about “escaping” my life in a way that worries or distresses me.
- There’s something “missing” or not working in my personal or work life, but can’t figure it out.
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
Medication can be very useful in helping manage some symptoms and can be the primary treatment for certain biologically-based disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia. However, medication is not usually a stand-alone treatment for many psychological issues including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychotherapy provides long-lasting resolution through identification and understanding of the core source(s) of distress and learning science-based strategies and tools to resolve symptoms. Whether your goal is to complement the benefits of your current medication, work towards tapering off or reducing your current medication, or deciding whether to start medication or not, I will work with you to achieve your goals.
How many sessions will I need?
Many people report experiencing improvement or progress within 4-6 sessions if not sooner. However, the length of treatment relies on many factors including the nature, intensity, and context of your issues and your motivation and efforts towards the work between sessions.
What’s the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a counselor/psychotherapist?
A Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Illinois has met numerous educational and professional standards including achievement of a doctoral degree in psychology including the successful defense of doctoral dissertation, completion of both a rigorous pre- -doctoral internship and specialized post-doctoral fellowship, and passing the national licensure exam for the practice of psychology. By the time a psychologist earns licensure in Illinois, they have completed at least 3-4 years of supervised clinical experience and at least 4 years of graduate-level, scientific study of human behavior and psyche including conducting independent psychological research.
Psychiatrists are medical professionals with graduate degrees in medicine (MD, DO). They are experts in treating mental health with prescribing psychotropic medication. Psychiatrists focus on prescribing and monitoring the effectiveness of medications in the treatment of mental health issues.
Counselors and psychotherapists have earned a master’s degree in counseling or psychology and successfully passed a national licensure exam. Training during a master’s program can entail 1-2 years of supervised clinical work.
Isn’t therapy just for “crazy”/ Western/ or weak people?
Anyone who values being understood and wants a professional perspective on the solutions to their problems could benefit from therapy. While there is value in seeking solutions on your own or within personal and community support systems, there may be times you’ve exhausted your resources or remain “stuck”. Just as you might utilize home remedies to treat a cold, but seek help from a professional if the condition worsens or persists, seeking help for mental health or personal issues is a sign of strong problem-solving skills and resilience.
Clients who have found therapy helpful have been diverse in terms of race or ethnicity, gender, spirituality or religious affiliation, sexual identity, nature and severity of issues, socioeconomic status, personality styles, and previous experience in therapy. The primary commonality being a desire for change and willingness to explore and try new strategies and perspectives to find relief and/or achieve your goals.