How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, and help you develop problem-solving and coping skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, and stress management. Many people also find therapists to be of tremendous assistance with personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or work with you toward a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

• Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
• Developing skills for improving your relationships
• Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
• Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
• Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
• Improving communications and listening skills
• Changing old behaviour patterns and developing new ones
• Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
• Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need therapy? I usually can handle my problems.

Everyone experiences challenging situations in life. Although you may have navigated successfully through other difficulties you’ve faced, sometimes it is wise to seek extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize that they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to changing the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be experiencing a major life transition (separation, loss, new job, aging, parenthood, etc.) or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, grief, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Therapy can help you know yourself better so that you can cope with life’s challenges and make decisions that enhance your life. Therapists can provide much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods.  Others may be at a point when they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.   In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Each person has different issues and goals for therapy, so therapy may differ depending on the needs and style of the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and your progress and insights gained.  Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development.  Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly or bi-weekly). It is important to understand that you will get better results from therapy if you actively participate in the process.  The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you use what you learn in session in your life.  Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, noting particular behaviours or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication versus psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, psychotherapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behaviour patterns that cause difficulties for us. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.  Working with your physician, you can determine what’s best for you; in some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.  A psychologist will work collaboratively with your other healthcare providers and will take care to suggest if you should be speaking with them about additional treatments.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them.  Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers.  Some helpful questions you can ask them:

• What are my mental health benefits?
• What is the coverage amount?
• Does my plan cover services from registered psychologists and their associates?
• Is a referral required from my physician?

Does what we discuss in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is an important component of psychotherapy. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but in the therapist’s office and only with that same client.   Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.  This is called “Informed Consent.”  Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team or to an insurance company, but your therapist cannot release this information without your written permission.

However, provincial law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

  • Suspected abuse or neglect of children or a vulnerable adult.
  • If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.
  • If the courts subpoena records.