How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Clinical counsellors can provide support, and help clients develop problem-solving skills and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood trauma, 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 challenge 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 behaviour patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your sense of self-worth 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 the courage to pursue that help. In going for counselling, you are taking responsibility for your life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking support; that is something to be admired. Effective therapy provides long-lasting benefits, and gives you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and come to terms with whatever challenges you face.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different concerns and goals for therapy, counselling will unfold based on your needs. In general, you can expect to discuss your life's current challenges, and your personal history relevant to your concerns. You will also have the opportunity to discuss new insights gained from the previous counselling session, and to identify progress you've been able to make toward your counselling goals. Importantly, you will be encouraged to feel the emotions and bodily sensations that come up as you participate in sessions. Depending on your needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for further personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your counsellor (usually weekly or bi-weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get greater benefits from counselling if you fully participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you integrate what you learn during sessions into your day-to-day life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in sessions, your therapist may suggest some tasks you can do outside of sessions to support your process, such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviours, or otherwise taking action on accomplishing your counselling 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 struggles and the pain they cause is not the use of medication alone. Instead of just treating the symptoms, therapy addresses the causes of distress and the behaviour patterns that prevent 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 will provide a written copy of his or 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 himself/herself/themselves 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.