I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?

Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the courage to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. In our work together, I’ll help you explore, identify, and increase your strengths. Then we implement them to reduce and alter the problems you face.

What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?

I think this is a very important ‘detail issue’ for you to understand from my site. A mental health professional is trained to guide you into new skills and open different perspectives. They have learned to listen to you without judgment or expectations, to listen on multiple levels, and to help you listen to yourself.

  • Most importantly, psychotherapists and counselors do not become as entangled, upset, or short-circuited by your problems as loved ones can.
  • Loved ones are sometimes so concerned about your pain or worried about any changes, they may suggest whatever makes things ‘back to normal’–from their viewpoint. However, such solutions may not necessarily be the best for you.
  • Also, counseling is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing your business” or letting something slip accidentally.
  • Finally, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion and you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is some risk that once you feel better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.

Why shouldn’t I just take medication?

Medication can be effective, but it alone cannot solve all issues.

  • As a metaphor, for example, to get a koi and lily pond going, you need two things. Chemistry (temperature, clarity, pH) and handiwork (planting, pruning, landscaping, etc.). I help with the handiwork. If we think the chemistry might need attention, we will find a psychiatry referral for you.
  • Regarding the handiwork, we know that therapy can strengthen connections we want in the brain / mind and weaken the ones we do not want. That is (oversimplified) what therapy does.

How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?

Because each person has different issues and goals for counseling, I work to tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. However, I can say:

  • Just be you, as you really think and feel, and talk as freely as you can. You will do fine. If you censor yourself or struggle, don’t worry. Everyone does. Rather than being ‘wrong’ or unhelpful, that can also help us understand what is happening.
  • My job is to listen in depth to you (and myself) from a literal and rational angle, and from a position of emotion and metaphor. I digest that and then grow a viewpoint, idea, or suggestion, to see if it is helpful to you.
  • If you come talk, you will always be doing the right work.

How long will it take?

Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. We can form a general expectation in our first few meetings. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time in therapy to help you accomplish your goals depends on your desire and commitment, how often we meet (once vs. twice per week), and the type of problems that led you to seek counseling in the first place.

I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?

As I outline above about ‘how this works’, if you come talk, you will always be doing the right work.

  • If we are working briefly or on one very specific thing, you can keep notes or recall what we talked about last time.
  • If we are working on something broader, deeper, or more long-term, it is best if the process goes in its natural direction in each session, so you would start with whatever is on your mind.