Common Questions

Most people have questions about how therapy works.  It’s important to ask questions. You have the right to understand your treatment and what you can expect to happen in therapy.  Here are some typical questions clients ask:

What can I expect at the first session?

Most people are anxious about entering therapy for the first time and often don’t know what to expect.  It is normal to feel uncomfortable or nervous about talking with someone new, a stranger, someone you don’t know.  My job is to do my best to help you to feel comfortable, to explain how therapy works, and to invite you to tell me, in confidence, what has brought you to therapy now.  I will ask many questions at first, to make sure that I am qualified to help, to understand the context of the problem(s), and to give you a chance to see what it is like to sit with me.  After the first session you will most likely know if it feels like a good fit for you.  If this is the first time you’ve ever been in therapy, I may encourage you to meet with several different therapists — to “shop” for a therapist — before you make a decision.  It is important that you find the best match for you; no one else can know what is best for you. You are the customer — you get to choose the best situation for yourself.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events.  The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel/act better even if the situation does not change.

What is Family Systems Therapy?

Family Systems Therapy is a method of psychotherapy based on the Murray Bowen Theory of Natural Systems. It has applicability in a wide range of problems. Any family member who seeks help will aid the entire family.

The aim of Family Systems Therapy is for family members to understand and accept their individual responsibility in the emotional functioning of the family unit. By learning to recognize the emotional relationship patterns and how anxiety is handled in the family, individual family members can manage themselves in more functional ways. Relationships change and symptoms decrease as family members improve their emotional functioning.

How often will I need to be seen?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered among the most rapid in terms of results obtained.  The average number of sessions clients receive is about 16.  Other forms of therapy,  like psychoanalysis, can take years.  What enables CBT to be briefer is its highly instructive nature.  On average, most clients are seen once a week, between 6 and 16 times.  Sometimes clients request to be seen more than once a week during a difficult time.  As clients are getting closer to reaching their goal, sessions may be less frequent, from every other week to once a month, just to maintain the progress they have made.

How will I know when I am done?

At the beginning of therapy, you will define your goal(s) for therapy and together we will figure out how you will know when you have met your goal(s).  The ending of therapy is a decision made collaboratively between the therapist and client.  Although endings are sometimes difficult and often avoided, I will encourage you to complete the therapeutic process and to celebrate your success.  Therefore, it is not an open-ended, never-ending process.

Will I have to take medicine?

No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do.  However, medicine may be recommended in conjunction with your therapy, as it can be highly effective in certain situations.

What if I don’t like something about the counseling experience?

No one can force you to come to counseling.  If something happens in therapy that makes you uncomfortable, it is beneficial to discuss these concerns with your therapist, if you can.  Discomfort in therapy often mimics the discomfort you may experience in life.  If you can work through this discomfort, in a safe environment, you can often resolve the discomfort in your life.  However, it is also important to remember that you are in charge of your own experience and if the situation can not be resolved, you have the right to leave therapy at any time.

Will you have to tell anyone about what I tell you?

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance in counseling.  That means I will not reveal anything you tell me to anyone else unless there is a risk of harm:  I am mandated to break confidentiality if I have any indication that you are planning to harm yourself or someone else, or you have sexually violated or been violated and it has not already been reported.

If you are under 18, your parents have the right to know, in general terms, how you are doing.  I will encourage your parents to ask you directly if they have any questions and I will inform you of the content of any conversations I may have with your parents.

I have supervision with other licensed clinical professionals every week, to make sure that I am providing my best work.  I may choose to discuss your case, but, in doing so, I will not reveal any identifying information about you, such as your name, place of employment, etc.