Similar to how your home can feel different after you rearrange your furniture, begin to think of therapy as “emotional redecorating”. Therapy doesn’t change who you are, instead it shows you better ways of using aspects of yourself that you already have so that you’re more comfortable within yourself.
Therapy is founded on the belief that your personality formed during the first five or so years of your life based on your experiences in your family-of-origin. The way you reacted to those early events may have caused you to get stuck at a childhood level of emotional insight or problem solving. This would naturally lead to some problems in your adult life and relationships.
While you can have a mature exterior and function more or less successfully as an adult, internally you may feel vulnerable, confused, depressed, angry, afraid, and childlike. You may not be able to resolve your current problems or recover from rejection or allow your real feelings to surface. Your physical health may be compromised in many ways by your emotional and relationship issues.
Therapy will help you to understand your emotions and help you with your relationships and your personal problems. It is designed to help you understand how your unconscious mind affects the ways you feel, think, behave, react and relate. You will be telling your life story to someone who knows how to listen and can give back new meaning and understanding to your life.
We begin with an initial consultation. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure that we are both comfortable with each another and that I am the best therapist for you. I would determine this by comparing your treatment goals and what I think you may need from therapy, to my scope of practice and my areas of competences.
If you were in currently in therapy with another mental health professional I would not provide therapy services to you until that treatment officially ended. You would also need to review and sign a series of documents related to my business practices, including the fee and cancellation policies, the “No Secrets” policy and the management of your healthcare information.
Prior to your first therapy session I will ask you to write down the problem(s) you wanted to work on and bring them to your first session. If you couldn’t do this it would be okay – not everyone knows specifically why they want to begin therapy. Regardless, you and I would work together during you initial sessions to clarify your goals and develop a treatment plan. This plan could be adjusted during the course of your therapy as needed.
Also during your initial sessions, we would discuss your current and past physical and mental health conditions. I would need to know about any medications and ongoing treatments by other healthcare professionals. I would request that you sign a release of information for each of your doctors so that I could coordinate your care with them as needed. I would ask about your relationship and family-of-origin histories; your career development; sexual history; legal circumstances if any; and any significant life events.
Talking about your family history could be uncomfortable for you because emotions from your past may surface and this would be very normal. For instance, you might begin remembering past trauma if it happened to you. If this happened I would help you work through your pain and struggles to talk about this and anything else that might be hard for you to disclose.
Gathering information about your life history usually requires several sessions. It would be vital that I know as much as possible about you for several reasons: to understand you better; to build a connection between us; to make a preliminary diagnosis, and to develop a treatment plan. Again, everything you say could be helpful to us in understanding why you behave and think and feel and relate the way you do.
I’ll encourage you to talk freely and at your own pace about thoughts and feelings that come up about therapy or about working with me. These feelings are important because aspects of your earliest affections and hostilities toward your parents and siblings can be shifted onto me and the therapy process. This is known as “transference,” and this experience offers us a way of understanding what happened to you during childhood.
Except for emergencies or dangerous situations, I usually won’t tell you how to live your life or tell you to leave or stay in a relationship. Questions like “what would you personally do/think/feel in my situation?…or “what’s your personal opinion?” are important, but rather than giving you direct answers, if you ask me such questions I would help you explore your options.
Therapy is a way of teaching you effective techniques and coping skills to manage your life circumstances, as well as helping you experience your life more deeply, enjoy more satisfying relationships, resolve painful conflicts and integrate all the parts of your personality. You can gain freedom to change, to live life on your terms and to continue to grow in your relationships.
Normally therapy ends when we can both agree that your therapy goals have been met and we set a termination date. Or, we would stop whenever you decided to stop. Unlike other therapies, my approach to therapy is generally unstructured and there is usually no specified length of treatment. I cannot predict the time required to explore the layers of experiences and feelings that make your life and relationships unique. Some clients find that their therapy can last just a few sessions while some cases can extend for several months or even years.
Please call me at 949-760-7171 or text 949-244-8572 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.