Frequently Asked Questions
I have often been asked the following questions by those interested in psychotherapy. I share my responses with you in the hopes that it helps you find the best psychotherapist for you.
If you have any questions that are not answered here, I would be happy to speak with you personally.
How do I know when psychotherapy might be helpful to me?
Psychotherapy may be particularly helpful to you when you get the sense that in some way you are “running in circles” in your life.
You might be experiencing this is just one arena of your life, or across the board, but either way your sense is the same - that you are running in circles, not coping, getting nowhere, perhaps even feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, dissatisfied or just plain "stuck".
Psychotherapy can serve many functions here. The therapeutic relationship can offer you support for what you are up against, a place to explore and express your feelings, and a chance to gain new perspectives on your situation.
From there, if you choose to go further, therapy can also offer you the chance to uncover the roots of what you are dealing with, work through and release any old feelings, see and resolve any old patterns, develop new skills and ultimately create new ways of being.
What are some of the common issues that lead people to psychotherapy?
The sense of feeling stuck can manifest in many different ways in an individual's life. Here are a few common ones that might catalyze someone to seek therapy:
- A life event or crisis: loss of job, loss of loved one, separation or divorce
- Struggles with anxiety, stress or insomnia
- Feeling lost or stuck with what step to next take in your life
- Feeling depressed, numb, disconnected or disengaged from life
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, desperation or despair
- Feelings of frustration and overwhelm
- Feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem or emptiness
- A sense of not coping well with some aspect of your life
How do I choose the right psychotherapist for me?
Beyond the practical considerations of a good fit – office location, fees, scheduling etc., here are a couple of questions that might be helpful to ask yourself when meeting with a potential therapist:
- Do you feel comfortable, understood, taken seriously, and supported by the therapist?
- Do you get the sense that you are in good hands – that this therapist is reliable, trustworthy, consistent, responsible and responsive to your needs?
- Can you see yourself developing trust with this therapist?
- Do you feel an open invitation to bring up any subject, ask any question you may need?
How frequently should I be having therapy sessions?
Ideally the frequency of your therapy sessions should be tailored to both your needs and means.
In my practice I have found that once a week is often a good place to start for most individuals beginning therapy, or returning to therapy. If that is not sustainable, it is often possible to work on a bi-weekly basis.
How can I tell that psychotherapy is working for me?
One of the most concrete ways to know if therapy is working for you is to keep revisiting your goals and desires for change. Are you feeing like you are moving closer toward your goals? Is your original sense of feeling stuck in your life diminishing?
Keeping in mind that one's therapeutic journey can often feel more abstract than concrete, here is a sampling of a few less readily perceptible signs of progress in therapy:
- An increasing understanding of your issues, behaviours and frustrations
- An awareness of subtle changes in your reactions, behaviours or habitual patterns of thinking
- A sense of feeling less isolated and alone with your struggles
- An awareness of feeling less harsh or critical with yourself and others
- A sense, even in the midst of having more feelings, of becoming more in command of your emotions
- A growing sense of feeling lighter, less burdened
- A growing sense of optimism and hope
- A growing ability to step back from unwanted behaviours and unneeded suffering
- Over time, an increasing trust in yourself, your process and your abilities
- A developing sense of safety, trust and authenticity in relation to others
- A deeper, yet more grounded, sense of feeling awake, aware, alive and engaged in life
The therapeutic relationship can offer you support for what you are up against, a place to explore and express your feelings, a chance to gain new perspectives on your situation and to ultimately find resolution.