How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, and help clients develop problem-solving skills and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, life transitions, and creative blocks. Many people also find that counsellors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the challenges of daily life. They can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. These are some of the potential benefits of counselling:
- 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 behavior 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 can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life. And, while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, sometimes, professional support is helpful. In fact, counselling is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need help dealing with their concerns, and that is something to be admired. In going for counselling, you are taking responsibility for your life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking support. Effective therapy provides long-lasting benefits, and gives you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress, or any new insights gained, from the previous counselling session. 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 counsellor (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from counselling if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of sessions to support your process, such as reading a pertinent book, journalling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors, 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 vs. counselling?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause is not the use of medication alone. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behaviour patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor, you can determine what's best for you; and in some cases a combination of supplements and/or medication and counselling is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Counselling costs may be covered by extended medical plans, EFAP providers, ICBC, Victim Services, or other sources. In other cases, clients do not have coverage, and so pay the fees themselves, by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card. Method of payment will be established during the initial consultation.
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and counsellor. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every counsellor should provide a written copy of his/her 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 (your physician, naturopath, attorney), but by law your counsellor cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission. In addition, provincial law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
Based on information provided by the client or collateral sources, the therapist suspects past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and/or elders, which must be reported to authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement.
The therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person, in which case relevant authorities must be notified in the interest of protecting the client or another person.
It is also important to understand that your consent to counselling is ongoing: it is your choice to continue, or discontinue counselling at any time.