What's All This Talk About Therapy?
There are likely many questions you have about therapy, the therapeutic process, and what you can hope to get out of it. Hopefully, some of your questions will be answered in the following paragraphs where we will explain what therapy is, what it isn’t, what kinds of therapy there are, who can qualify to be a therapist, and lastly how to find the right fit for your therapy goals.
What is Therapy?
Therapy, or counseling, is when someone identifies an aspect of their life that they would like to improve but are unsure how to make it happen. That person would find a licensed professional, who has experience working with the kinds of issues they face. The overall goal of therapy, and effective therapists, is to empower the people they work with to learn how to identify their problems, cope effectively, and repeat the process for future problems. Therapy is not supposed to last forever. Therapy is not magic, or brainwashing, or programming. At the end of therapy, clients will have addressed their problems, learned new strategies for overcoming future problems, and therefore no longer need therapy.
Therapy begins with a comprehensive bio-psycho-social evaluation. This evaluation will be the starting point for a strong working relationship between client and clinician, it will inform the client and clinician as they begin planning for treatment, it will provide information to support or rule out different diagnoses, and it will serve as the foundation for everything that comes next.
After the initial evaluation, with problems identified, the client and clinician will begin developing a treatment plan. Treatment planning is a collaborative process where client and clinician have equal roles in identifying goals for treatment, and measurable objectives to reach those goals. Additionally, the treatment planning phase is when the clinician will present options for different treatment models (more on those later) in which they have experience, to effectively address their concerns.
Without a treatment plan, therapy can turn into a “paid friendship” where two associates talk about life without any real direction or progress, which can end up being a waste of time and money and only leave the client more frustrated than when they began.
From there treatment will follow the treatment plan. They will measure progress along the way and adjust as necessary. When the objectives are met, treatment can be over.
What kinds of therapy are there?
There are more kinds of therapy, or treatment models, than there is room for on this page. Treatment models are Evidence Based Practices used to treat many different diagnoses. Evidence Based Practices have undergone rigorous testing and research and have been proven effective by peer reviewed research studies. Many of the most recognized are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is the focus on how beliefs influence thinking, and the influence of thinking on feelings and behavior. Some of the treatment models based on CBT are DBT, REBT, CPT and many more.
Some treatment models, like CBT, can be used to address many different concerns, while some are specific to a single diagnosis. Such as EMDR and CPT are trauma specific models. DBT and DDP were developed for Borderline Personality Disorder. There really are too many to list.
We encourage you to research the different treatment models, consider their supporting evidence, and determine if it might be something you’d like to try. We believe it is worth the time to do your research.
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What is a Therapist?
A fully licensed therapist is someone who has a masters degree in either Social Work or Psychology, and who has completed thousands of hours of clinically supervised training. A fully licensed therapist might have letters after their name like LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), CMHC (Clinical Mental Health Counselor) and others. Some fully licensed therapists, like LCSWs, swear to adhere to a code of ethics that guides ethical practice. Additionally, a fully licensed therapist can only keep their license if they complete continuing education credits through the licensing cycle.
Who should I pick to be my therapist?
The therapeutic relationship between client and clinician is the most important factor to increase positive therapy outcomes. It is ideal to find a therapist to whom you can connect. After that, they should have experience helping people experiencing similar concerns as what you are trying to address. They should be able to offer the types of treatment for which you are looking. They should have availability. For a good idea of what to avoid when working with a therapist click here.
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We understand that the decision to pick a therapist is a big one. We also understand that it might not be a therapist from Wellness Mindset who you pick. We’re okay with that. Afterall, therapy is about you.
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