Tel: (770) 834-0995
Fax: (770) 834-0935
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We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.
The Process of Psychotherapy
People are sometimes anxious about contacting a
psychologist and asking for help. However, their anxiety is often based on
misconceptions about what psychologists do, how they do it, and the kinds of
people they see. But, many of the beliefs that people have about psychotherapy
(or therapy) are myths:
There is the belief that therapy is about helping people to vent their feelings. This is only partially true. While it can be important to express your previously unexpressed thoughts and feelings in therapy, it is not a necessary condition for successful therapy. In other words, expressing yourself freely is not sufficient for you to make a lasting change in your emotions, behavior, or life. For that to happen, you need to work on changing some patterns of thought and behavior in your life. You need to change some of the ways you connect to others, particularly those closest to you. You may need guidance from your therapist to do this and you will probably need to work outside of therapy (in your life outside of therapy to make these changes.
Some people believe that the psychologist works some magic and you come out feeling better and having made major changes in your personality. However, therapy is not surgery. If you need your appendix removed, you don’t need to know how the surgeon does what he or she does, you only need to show up and do what you’re told. Therapy does not work that way. In therapy, you need to be an active participant for it to work. You and your psychologist must work together to understand your problems and solve them. Your psychologist cannot make you better. For that reason, people who have been pressured to see a psychologist or others who are not motivated will not be helped by it.
There is a common belief that therapy is about exploring your childhood and your relationship with your parents. While therapy may involve understanding how your childhood may have contributed to the problems you are currently experiencing, most modern therapies focus on reducing current problem emotions or behaviors rather than focusing on years of therapy to discover exactly how those problems began. For success in therapy, an individuals must take responsibility for their own lives rather than getting mired in blaming others for their problems.
Another common misconception is that therapy lasts for many years and that you must attend sessions several times during the week. The reality is that sessions are typically scheduled weekly (and often towards the end of therapy, twice monthly) for 45-50 minutes (the last minutes of the hour are used to make notes regarding your progress towards your goals). Because the treatment modality that I most often use is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, a more time-limited type of psychotherapy, many of the clients that I see complete therapy in 8 to 14 weeks. Of course, there are instances where an individual needs to see me for a period of 6-8 months and sometimes more than once weekly (e.g., individuals who are extremely depressed). However, only 1-5% of patients are seen for a year or more in therapy.
Click Here for more information about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
If you're confused about the difference in the terms psychotherapy, therapy, and counseling, as well as the titles psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, and counselor, click here.