Goals & Expectations
Why do people go to therapy?
People come into therapy for many reasons. Some need to meet unexpected changes in their lives. Others come to therapy wanting a sounding board for self-exploration and personal growth. Some people come looking for practical advice for help coping when they are overwhelmed by guilt, doubt, anxiety, or despair. I use a highly focused, targeted approach to psychotherapy, designed to help you meet your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. People who are successful at meeting their goals in psychotherapy are willing to engage in a give and take relationship with the therapist, providing honest feedback about what is and isn't helpful. They take responsibility for their actions, are willing to face increasing awareness of their own motives and work towards changing behavior patterns that aren't working for them.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
During sessions you are expected to talk about the primary concerns and issues in your life.I typically see patients for 75 minutes instead of the usual 45 minute session. This ensures that you don’t feel rushed but have all the time you need to really feel heard, it allows for the seamless integration of hypnotherapy, behavioral activation, and mindfulness training, all factors that contribute to the effectiveness of treatment.
At the beginning of treatment, psychotherapy sessions are usually scheduled weekly, but as you meet your goals, we will space the sessions out to once every two weeks, then once a month before ending completely. This gradual process of terminating ensures that you get to practice new skills and consolidate the gains of therapy before ending altogether. On rare occasions, some people who are in crisis or extreme distress need more than one session per week, but just until the crisis passes. I will assign "homework" for you to do during the time between sessions. This might involve reading or journaling or it might involve walking through your neighborhood taking note of things you never noticed before. It might involve taking some kind of palate refining class to increase your awareness of your senses. My homework is always tailored to your needs and to the goals of therapy, but also always flexible. People who get the most out of therapy really "work" at it by participating actively in and outside of the scheduled sessions.
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychologist and I can only release information about our work to others with your written permission. However, there are a number of exceptions. In most legal proceedings, you have the right to prevent me from providing any information about your treatment. However, in some circumstances such as child custody proceedings and proceedings in which your emotional condition is an important element, a judge may require my testimony if she/he thinks that justice can best be served by making me testify. There are some situations in which I am legally required to take action to protect others from harm, even if that requires revealing confidential information about a client's treatment. If I believe that a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person is being abused, I am required by North Carolina law to report the suspected abuse to the Department of Social Services.
What benefits can I expect?
Research has consistently shown that there are many benefits from participating in "talk therapy." Consumer Reports magazine conducted a very famous study back in 1995 that showed very decidedly that psychotherapy works. Consumer Reports surveyed over 4000 of their readers and reported that "readers who sought help from their family doctor tended to do well, but people who saw a mental-health specialist for more than six months did much better." Often just knowing that someone understands can be helpful, and therapy can also provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point to solutions that you might not have thought of on your own. But therapy that is focused and strategic takes laser sharp aim at the particular cognitive and interpersonal factors that maintain the difficulties you want help with, empowering you to make lasting changes that will prevent or at least reduce the probability of relapse. Many people find therapy to be a tremendous benefit to personal growth, family and work relationships, marital strife, work conflicts, and the stresses and strains of the complex multiple demands of modern life. Consumer Reports concluded that "once in treatment, those who formed a real partnership with their therapist—by being open, even with painful subjects, and by working on issues between sessions—were more likely to progress." Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Overcoming the stranglehold of depression and/or anxiety in your life
- Understanding yourself, your motives, goals and values better
- Developing skills for managing your emotions and improving your relationships
- Finding new ways to manage life instead of letting life manage you
- Transforming negative emotions into useful goal directed motivation
- Learn how to listen to others, and speak so others listen to you
- Getting "unstuck" from "stinking thinking"—
- Stop going round in circles doing the same thing expecting different results
- Breaking bad habits like smoking or hair pulling
- Starting new habits like exercise and mindful eating
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
What if I don't know what my goals are?
If you aren't sure what your goals are for therapy, our first task is to figure that out, and it is something that we can do together. I usually have a good idea of what I think is likely to be the most helpful direction for therapy within the first session. But my ideas may or may not fit with yours and it could take me several sessions to get a complete picture. Meanwhile our time will still be productive and we'' still be working toward your ultimate goals.