Some things you should ask before you select a psychotherapist.
Q. How long will it take? A. A lot has changed over the years since the practice of psychotherapy came into being. Modern therapy no longer depends on years of endless "free association" and guesswork. Or analysis that may leave you dependent on your therapist, instead of freeing you to live your life. Now you can get help quickly. You can stop feeling isolated or alienated from others. You can accomplish what you want to accomplish. You can reach your goals.
Q: Can you really overcome your past? A: Absolutely. Therapy should be geared to help you hold onto the positive aspects of your past and quiet those destructive voices that persist and play on your mind today. In a safe, therapeutic environment you can feel the emotions that were unsafe to feel back then. And you can experience the joy of being able to reconnect with your emotional, real self.
Q. What type of license is required? A. Legitimate therapists are licensed by the State of California. Marriage and Family Therapists are required a related doctoral or two-year master's degree, passage of a comprehensive written and oral examination and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience. In addition, 18 accredited hours of continuing education are required each year.
Q. Should I like my therapist? A. If you are working with the right therapist for you, you will feel more and more comfortable in expressing all of your feelings with total honesty. That means you will feel good about your therapist. Yes, you will like him or her. You will also have occasions when you are afraid, sad, or angry. These feelings should also be expressed to your therapist.
Q. Can therapy actually change my life? A. Good therapy should result in real life changes, not just talk. You should develop tangible goals. You have a right to accomplish growth that you can see and feel in your daily life.
Q. What causes emotional distress? A. It is becoming more and more clear that early childhood trauma leaves deep wounds on our psyches. Poor early attachement (to an infant's primary caregiver) and difficult childhoods leave us with various symptoms and feelings of mistrust. An overwhelming majority of those who seek therapy have had some history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect. It is never the job of a therapist to invent or suggest such things. But it is always the job of good therapy to address the truth. It is important that you work with a therapist who has training and experience in working with these issues.
Q. What form or type of therapy is best? A. Research has proven that there is no one form of treatment that assures results. You should look for a therapist who is schooled and trained in a broad range of theory and practice. Some proven approaches that you might hear about include Object Relations Family Therapy, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Behavioral, Strategic, and Cognitive. A therapist who is able and willing to be flexible in his or her approach will get you the best results.
Q. Is all therapy the same? A. Absolutely not. Just as not all doctors, lawyers or Indian Chiefs are alike... so too, all therapists are not the same. You have every right to feel that you are in competent hands. You should ask questions like these, and find someone who is willing to answer and discuss your concerns. If you are involved in therapy that leaves you feeling unhappy and stuck, you may want to discuss this with your current therapist or move on.
Q. What is best? Individual, family or group therapy? A. If time and money were no object, a combination of private therapy, sessions that may include your partner and/or family... along with participation in a group would, over time, be ideal. Your therapist should work with you to create a treatment plan that is the best way for you to reach your particular goals.
Q. Is all group therapy the same? A. No. Rap groups. twelve-step groups and others that are not facilitated by a licensed clinician, can be wonderful ways to get support. But groups without a leader are not therapy groups. In order to succeed in group therapy, you should have enough personal awareness to be able to recognize your feelings and relate to the way you learned to express or deny these emotions in your family.You should establish some rapport with the therapist who is leading the group.