Thursday, April 19, 2007

Being In Therapy

"How does this work? What should I talk about?" Every therapist has heard these questions, and most clients have asked them. This blog will take a stab at giving some answers.

The simple answer is: talk about yourself. Therapy is a laboratory where you and your therapist meet regularly to explore this one topic. Why you think, feel and behave the way you do, how you came to be the person you are, and what can be changed if you so desire.

Anyone who has spent some time being in therapy knows how this simple task can become quite complicated. There are an endless number of approaches to exploring one's self. Should you rehash your week? Talk about your childhood? Your dreams? Do you mention the discomfort you feel when the therapist gives you a certain look? Your doubts about the effectiveness of therapy? Or should you wait for the therapist to ask you questions? Each are valid approaches, but it can be confusing to know which one most effectively helps you reach your goal: to understand yourself better, resolve your problems, and not waste your time and money.

As a psychologist with a decade or so of experience, I've dealt with this dilemma plenty. I often need to spend the first several sessions helping clients learn what to do and say to get the most out of their treatment - at a significant expense to the client. It occurred to me that there exists a huge rift between client and therapist where the process of therapy is concerned: therapists spend many years learning theories and techniques of psychotherapy, while the client may know nothing. No wonder many clients leave therapy frustrated, unable to reach their goals because the process remained a mystery to them.

My goal for this blog is to level the therapeutic playing field. I'd like to equip clients - beginning as well as current - with the tools necessary to get the most out of their time, money, and emotional expenditure. I plan to talk about:

1. How to find and begin therapy
2. The rules and roles within therapy
3. How the exploring/healing process works
4. How to relate to the therapist
5. Topics many choose to cover in therapy
6. How to overcome roadblocks in therapy
7. Knowing when and how to end therapy

Thanks for joining me, and I welcome your feedback.

*NOTE: While I am a psychologist who will be discussing the process of therapy, I will not be conducting any on-line therapy. I welcome your questions about how therapy works, but know that I won't be giving specific advice about your particular personal issues - hopefully, some of what I discuss will help you get that kind of assistance from your therapist!

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