What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy has a lot of different meanings to people, but for us it starts with a relationship and involves a variety of scientifically derived techniques to promote healing and growth.
It can be pretty overwhelming to seek out a therapist, not to mention finding someone you're comfortable with and trust. The first time you seek professional help can feel vulnerable and confusing. We encourage people to look for a therapist that "fits" - someone they can make a reasonable connection with, who works very hard to understand them, and responds with truthful, compassionate feedback about them as people and their problems.
In addition to the therapeutic relationship, we think it's important to have a set of interventions for problems that have been supported by science as having effectiveness in improving symptoms. Clinical research isn't perfect, but it can tell us a fair bit about what works well in a lot of situations. We use a variety of approaches in therapy, but we always aim to help people develop the skills and practices in their own lives that produce enduring change, not just insight or knowledge.
We use a variety of theoretical orientations to therapy, including:
Sometimes these terms make for more confusion, especially since they're used to mean different things by different people. So we've included more information on some of them to help you sort this out a little bit, and get a sense of what we mean by these terms.
You can read about some of those approaches to therapy by clicking on the hot-links.
Is Psychotherapy Right for You?
Since we tailor treatment to individuals using a variety of theoretical backgrounds and scientific research to inform our approach, therapy will look different for each person.
For us at the heart of it, is, a unique relationship between therapist and patient, where the problems and challenges of life can be discussed in a supportive and helpful manner.
You won't find a couch in our offices, and probably we won't ask you to spend years talking about early childhood memories or hypnotize you. But we do find that the specific problems people bring to work on, are often part of a bigger pattern in their lives that can be helpful to understand. Beyond just insight and self-knowledge, we try to make therapy a practical, and applicable experience, with realistic techniques that can be learned and applied by most people.
Sometimes, there is little that can be done to change things, but even then, there is something vitally important about having another human being to be present with you in the midst of your suffering. It may not change the circumstance, but suffering can be transformed when shared with another person who cares.
Not everyone will find psychotherapy a helpful experience. Generally, if you're not open to new ways of thinking about your self and your life, you're probably going to find it frustrating. If you want quick advice to solve a problem, psychotherapy may not be ideal. Lots of people come to us looking for "tools" or "new ways to cope", and we're happy to suggest some. But sometimes in therapy we find that just coping and keeping on going isn't for the best. Sometimes bigger changes are called for, and we're happy to help you sort out the options, and talk about a reasonable plan for treatment.
You don't need to be mentally ill to see a psychologist. Many people that come for services would not fit the technical definitions of mental illness, and would probably be considered as "normal" as the average person in your neighborhood. But many of us at some point in our lives would do better to have someone help us talk things through, reflect, strategize, confront difficult feelings and experiences, heal from the past, and learn new ways to approach things. In some cases friends and family can do this for us. But often, an objective, experienced, professional is a good choice to help us with these tasks.