What is Individual Therapy?
Many people assume that psychology, counseling and therapy are all the same thing and all deal with ‘crazy’ people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Therapy is a one-on-one collaborative process between therapist and client that aims to facilitate change and improve quality of life. Therapy can treat specific, diagnosable mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD, in addition to everyday concerns, such as relationship problems, stress management, career ambitions, or other issues that may affect a person’s mental well-being. When specific issues or mental health conditions begin to cause distress and interfere with a person’s normal activities, it may be time to seek therapy. Distress can manifest in the form of problematic beliefs, feelings, behaviors, and sensations in the body. A therapist can facilitate lifestyle changes, serve as a listening ear, help identify underlying causes of symptoms, and provide specific strategies or techniques for changing unwanted thoughts, behaviors, or emotions. Through therapy, people gather tools to manage symptoms, alleviate stress, and face challenges.
The term psychotherapy is derived from the Greek words for soul and healing. People seek emotional support for many reasons. The purpose of therapy is to provide help to those who request it. Counseling seeks to help people before the problem becomes heightened to a pathological level. Therapy is helping those through experiences where symptoms have become disturbing to a point of life interference.
Is Therapy Right for Me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counselors as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, sexuality, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
How can Therapy Help Me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, sexuality, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Learning effective communication and relationship skills as part of premarital counseling
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
How Does Therapy Work?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. Therapy is delivered in a safe, caring, and confidential environment—to explore their feelings, beliefs, or behaviors, work through challenging or influential memories, identify aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change.
There are usually several stages or components for individual therapy, and even though the exact process will be personalized by the therapist and the client, here are a few of the common stages:
- Initial consultation
- Exploration and assessment
- Goals set
- Working through identified problems- therapy
- Integration of new thought and behavior
Goal, Duration, and Frequency of Therapy?
In general, the goal of psychotherapy is to talk through mental health issues and help clients heal, grow, and move toward more productive, psychologically healthy lives. Good therapy is client-driven, and specific goals for therapy will be determined by you and your therapist.
Individual psychotherapy sessions typically last between 45 and 60 minutes. The frequency and duration of therapy will depend largely on your needs, treatment goals, and progress. Many concerns are readily resolved with short-term therapy, and other chronic or more complex concerns require long-term commitment before improvement is realized.
Is Medication a Substitute for Therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical provider you can determine what’s best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.
The Client – Therapist Relationship
When you feel like you are drowning in the sea of blues and someone is about to throw you a life preserver, you must be able to trust that they’ll be smart and strong enough to pull you out of danger.
A solid patient-therapist relationship is a crucible of wellness. And the path out of depression or any other state of being begins with a compatible therapist. Research has shown that the most important factor in predicting success in psychotherapy is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client. In therapist lingo, this is called the therapeutic alliance. The research found that this relationship is more important than how long the therapist had been practicing or what kind of training the therapist had.