If you have any questions or worries about starting therapy/change, then I hope one of the answers I have below helps soothe your concerns.
What if my problem isn’t that big. Am I just being silly?
First off, all problems are important. Therapy or change isn’t a competition between you and somebody else. If something is on your mind and causing you any level of unease, then it’s big enough to address. Honestly, people tell me their problem is too small compared to others all the time, and it never ends up being small. And you are never silly for wanting to address something in your life that doesn’t feel good. That actually means you’re smart.
My last therapist didn’t say much and I just felt embarrassed in the silence, so I didn’t go back. How are you different?
Therapists are like grains of sand, every one of us is different and unique. Even if we trained in the same therapeutic method, we will practice it differently because we also bring our personality to the sessions. Some therapists don’t like to say much and that’s okay for them. It doesn’t mean they are wrong, just different. For me, as a Gestalt and RECBT therapist, I am very active in the sessions. Sometimes I will be teaching ideas and therapeutic principles, and sometimes I will be laughing with you. Sometimes I will be silent, and sometimes I will challenge you vigorously, which might not feel very therapist-like, but that is how I work. And not everyone is going to like my approach because I am active, and that’s also okay. Also, if you ever feel embarrassed or annoyed at your therapist, then I encourage you to say that to them, because a lot of good insight can come from it.
You’re a Gestalt and RECBT therapist, what’s the difference?
I see these two different approaches as supporting structures to how I work. I don’t necessarily stick to one method over the other. I will weave them into the sessions when I think one approach will be more helpful. They also merge well together as a holistic therapy. You might want to think of Gestalt as a way of bringing past experiences into the present and understanding how you react physically and emotionally to those experiences. Gestalt helps bring awareness to all parts of our Self, especially those parts we may have neglected or turned away from. Whereas RECBT (Rational, Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy) helps us understand the irrational beliefs we hold that underpin how we see ourselves, others and the world. RECBT is more about learning how our own thoughts lead to our unhealthy emotions and behaviors. This is more of a thinking therapy, whereas Gestalt is more of a sense therapy. However, they both promote self-responsibility on how to live in the world and overcome our problems.
Isn’t therapy expensive? Shouldn’t it be free if you want to help people?
Therapy can be expensive and it can be affordable or even free. There are places that offer reduced cost therapy, which is usually very time limited to maybe three or four sessions. I have worked for a charity and offered my therapeutic time pro bono before, so I know this is one option. And yet, like most services, there is an exchange of experience and skill for payment. Cost is obviously a factor in most decisions we make, so what you might want to ask yourself is this: are you worth investing your time and money into?
I only think I need one or two sessions, is that okay?
Of course. If that suits you, then that is your decision. Sometimes change can happen after one session, or at least it can help point you in the right direction. You might also find that after two sessions you realize you need more time, and that’s fine too. What I would caution against is putting an expectation on yourself and your therapist that your issue can be ‘fixed’ in two sessions. Those type of expectations don’t tend to end well.
Do you support the use of psychiatric drugs?
Absolutely. If a person is under the care of a psychiatrist and they have recommended medication to take, then they do that because they believe it is in the patients best interest. I have worked with many wonderful psychiatrists and one thing I learned from them is that medication is an art and not a science. Sometimes doses need to be adjusted up or down and this can take time. And sometimes the prescribed medication doesn’t work the way it was hoped, and something else needs to be added or changed. I know it can be frustrating for the patient because they just want to feel better, but medication is really only part of the solution. Used in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle change, medication can be a useful ‘team’ member. I would just caution about expectations again. Medication isn’t a happy pill. If you feel depressed, medication won’t magically make you feel amazing. It might be enough to stabilize your mood and nothing more. Unfortunately, for some people, medication needs to be taken for the rest of their life.
Do you support the use of herbal remedies?
Not really, unless they have been proven to work. And by proven I mean empirical tested and published in a peer reviewed journal. Something has to be proven to work or it’s just a hope and a guess. Most herbal remedies don’t do what is claimed, but just as a placebo can be effective, so can the belief that a herbal tonic helps. Can herbal remedies make you feel better? Sure. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in my experience the claims some people and manufacturers make, and the actual evidence/facts don’t match. Therefore, I tend to keep an open mind but don’t endorse something like this. I do recommend vitamin and mineral supplements, but outside of that, use them if you think it helps.
Is it okay to see more than one therapist at a time?
If you are talking about seeing multiple psychotherapists at the same time, then no. If you are asking about seeing a body therapist as well as a psychotherapist, then I think that can be extremely useful. I would urge anyone participating in psychotherapy to get regular body work (massage, osteopathy, chiropractic). I actually recommend that even if you’re not in psychotherapy!
My Mom/Dad/Significant Other thinks I need therapy, what do you think?
I think you need to decide for yourself. It can be nice for others to make decisions for us sometimes, but therapy isn’t like ordering food. If you go into therapy because somebody else wants you to, you probably won’t have the best experience or achieve the outcomes you want. Now, your advisers might have your best interests at heart, and they may be right that you need therapy/change, but do you think that? That’s the first step to engaging in therapy – doing it for yourself because it’s the right thing for you.