HOW CAN THERAPY HELP ME?
People attend therapy for a wide variety of issues, including:
- Family Conflict
- Personal Growth
- Self Esteem
- Adjusting to Life Transitions
- Self Esteem
- Coping with Grief/Loss
- Communication Issues
Therapy can be as minimal as providing additional support during a time or need or as intensive as assisting in recovery from a major trauma. For myself, as a therapist, it is about working with my clients to assess their needs and develop a treatment plan to help them meet their goals.
It is important to note that therapeutic success is dependent on many factors including the presenting issues, client motivation and participation, and available resources. In addition, it is not uncommon for symptoms to temporarily worsen before they get better. This happens because therapy often brings up new and/or uncomfortable things. The purpose of therapy is to work through these things together in a safe, contained environment in order to assist you in meeting your goals.
DO I SEE A MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST FOR INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING FOR MYSELF OR MY CHILD?
The title Marriage and Family Therapist can be misleading because it does not mention individual counseling. As stated above, I provide therapy to a wide variety of clientele using a relational model. This model is called systems theory which focuses on the impact of the system (family, community, peer group, etc…) on the individual as well as the impact the individual has on the system. This relational focus is important to MFTs because, whether the issues is individually or relationally based, our thoughts feelings and actions always have an impact on our relationships. An improvement in our symptoms generally leads to an improvement in relational functioning and an improvement in relational functioning often leads to improvement in our symptoms.
Positive, healthy relationships are a vital source of support in our lives and our important for fostering growth and change.
What can I expect from therapy?
Therapy generally involves three phases. In the beginning we will focus on getting to know each other, understanding what brought you into therapy, and developing your goals for therapy. This phase is really about feeling comfortable with the process and building a therapeutic relationship that will be the basis for all the work we will do together. The second phase of therapy is where the “work” begins.
The length and activities of this stage vary greatly depending on you as a person, what brings you into therapy, and what you would like out of the process. This stage is where we explore the presenting issues, developing insight and skills in order to foster growth and progress towards goals. The last phase of therapy usually involves assisting you in using the skills and insight gained in the middle phase to continue growth and change on your own outside of the therapeutic setting. Of course, my goal as a therapist is to help you meet your goals!
What usually happens in a session?
Sessions are 50 minutes long. Some family and couples session may need to go longer. We can discuss this if needed. There is no typical therapy session because each session is tailored to your specific needs and goals. Generally speaking, we will discuss the important issues and events in your life. I may ask questions about certain aspects of what you have said, or ask you to elaborate. I may also make comments about what I am feeling or sensing from you. This part of the process may feel cathartic, however it can also feel new and uncomfortable. The sessions are for you and I am here to listen to your thoughts and feelings, including your thoughts about how the therapeutic process is going for you. It is always okay to bring up your questions or issues about the process.
How often should I come?
Sessions are usually once per week. We use weekly sessions for a few reasons. First, having a week between sessions provides you with the time to think about and process what was discussed in session. Also, depending on the focus of therapy, homework such as behavioral charts or journaling may be given. A week gives you a good amount of time to work on the homework before returning to session. On the other hand, having more than a week between sessions can be difficult as well. In our busy lives so much can happen in a short period of time and it can be difficult to catch up with you and provide good therapeutic treatment if a lot of time has passed between sessions. Of course, session time and frequency are based on your individual needs and can be discussed at the beginning of therapy and at any time throughout the process.
THERAPY, COUNSELING, PSYCHOTHERAPY, PSYCHIATRY? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
People use these words interchangeably, which can cause confusion as to what is what. Let me take a second to clear up some of the confusion. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist which means that I am licensed by the State of California to provide therapy to clients with a specific focus on improving relational functioning (see the section below regarding MFT’s for an explanation of the relational focus).
The therapy I perform may also be referred to as counseling or psychotherapy. Psychiatry, on the other hand, is performed by medical doctors (psychiatrists) that can prescribe psychotropic medications. I work in conjunction with psychiatrists when my clients require medication services.