Have you ever wondered if counseling/psychotherapy could be helpful for you or someone that you love? Sometimes it is hard to know how or where to start exploring the option of therapy. Researching therapy and therapists can be challenging, especially when we are concerned about how others may view our interest in seeking therapy. Let’s take a look at what psychotherapy is, what it can be, and how it can help.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a healing and motivating process that is based upon a unique relationship between therapist and client. Throughout this process, a client’s ability to accomplish unique goals is enhanced. These goals may be surrounding the healing of emotional trauma, improving a meaningful relationship with a spouse or family member, reducing anxiety or depression, decreasing conflict, enhancing self-esteem, improving results at school or work – just to name a few. Therapy can be helpful for many individuals, whether their problem is large or small.
The Power of Stigma
In our society, there is often a hesitant attitude or a negative view surrounding psychotherapy. Receiving it, providing it, or talking about it. An English dictionary defines psychotherapy as “the treatment of psychological disorders or maladjustments by a professional technique, as psychoanalysis, group therapy, or behavioral therapy.” While this is one way of describing psychotherapy, I find this widely used definition of psychotherapy to be limiting. Some might even find it to be critical toward those seeking therapy, suggesting that in order to do so one must consider themselves to have a “disorder” or to be “maladjusted” in some significant way. This assumption about therapy can create a negative view, or a stigma.
While this stigma is maintained by a misrepresentation of psychotherapy in the media, surely society is not solely to blame. Many of the criticisms of psychology and psychotherapy are based on truth: the mental health field was indeed partially developed on the idea that a mental or emotional illness leaves an individual emotionally or mentally handicapped – hence the development of the common misconception that engaging in counseling or therapy means that “there must be something wrong.” Unfortunately, this led to many people being defined by and limited to their “mental illness.”
In today’s mental health world, there are increasingly more advocates for psychotherapy who want the world to see how much it helps the general public, as is not only intended for the severely mentally ill. It is probable that you know someone who has had a positive experience in therapy, although you may not be aware of it. I invite you to consider how you view psychotherapy. Do you hold a stigma about engaging in therapy? Why or why not?
The Power of Change
Countless individuals have engaged in a therapeutic relationship with a psychologist or a therapist and have experienced significant improvements in their quality of life- whether their original symptoms or complaints were mild or severe.
Also, it has consistently been observed that the relationship created between therapist and client is the foundation for the healing and change that occurs in therapy. A collaborative relationship with a therapist can foster hope and illuminate tools for change that will expand a client’s possibilities.
Who is Psychotherapy For?
Psychotherapy will benefit anyone who is feeling stuck. This can mean anything from mild emotional experience of being “stuck” that minimally impacts daily life, to a profound physical, emotional, or mental experience of being “stuck” that impacts daily living and happiness in immense ways.
The best candidate for psychotherapy is someone who has a desire for change. Perhaps seeking relief, hope, newness, peace, confidence, or success. Sometimes, being vulnerable in therapy can be quite a challenge. It can seem as though things are feeling worse before they get better. Someone engaging in therapy will have the power to collaborate with their therapist in order to manage how much of a challenge they want to face in therapy.
How Does Psychotherapy Work?
Theoretically, psychotherapy helps a client have meaningful experiences and growth in many ways: behaviorally, emotionally, mentally, and physically (as we often experience distress in a physical way). This measurement is, of course, based on the presenting problem that the client brings. Based on a client’s interest and the therapist’s skill set, therapy may consist of many different types of conversations and interventions, such as the use of art, music, or play.
The bottom line is, psychotherapy is what you make it. If you find a skilled therapist, this therapist will be able to attune to you and support you in determining your personal strengths, goals, and tools toward a more fulfilling life. A skilled therapist will help you find relief, healing, and hope. This therapist provides a safe space to not only find new solutions, but to explore the answers and needs that already exist within you in a more effective way. Most importantly, this therapist will be present for you based on your individual needs.
What is Unique About Psychotherapy with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?
All psychotherapists are different, but what most MFTs have in common is a background in training that allows us to see a presenting issue through a “systemic” lens. This training gives us a more developed ability to understand a family system, a school system, a social system, etc. We are able to access these skills when working with individuals, couples, families, and groups.
Different MFTs specialize in more specific areas: working with couples, with children, with adults diagnosed with severe depression, with those recovering from drug addictions, (the list continues). Our unique training does not limit us to working only with couples or families; it simply enhances the ways in which we can help a client who is seeking our assistance.
How Can A Therapist Help Me?
Whether you are struggling minimally or greatly, and whether you have been suffering for a short time or a life time, contacting a therapist can help you get on track. Both short-term and long-term therapy can provide excellent support and positive results. Most therapists will offer an easy and useful consultation and assessment of a few sessions, during which the two of you will collaborate to determine how therapy might be helpful to you. When you seek therapy with me, for example, the getting-to-know-you process itself can bring insight and support for you, as we determine how therapy can work specifically for your needs.
I specialize in working with adolescents, children, and adults who are experiencing various forms of anxiety. Allow me answer any further questions that you have about how psychotherapy can help you or your loved one.