Buy Thinking About Therapy at iUniverse.comExcerpt: Thinking About Therapy?

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: What Is Therapy?

If you’re reading this book you’ve probably decided that you need help, but you’re not sure if psychotherapy is right for you, or if you are right for it. In this chapter you will learn more about what psychotherapy is, what the goals are, what type of people therapy helps, and whether to pursue individual, couples, family, or group therapy.

return to top

Chapter 2: Is Therapy For Me?

Only you can decide if therapy is the best way to deal with your problems. There are other options. Should you instead turn to a close family member or friend or an esteemed clergy person? Read self-help books, take classes, or try an exercise program to reduce your stress level? There are many factors to consider such as the degree of emotional pain you are in, how long you’ve had the problem, and how much time, energy, and money you have to invest in yourself. Some people seek therapy to “nip it in the bud” and others wait until they’ve exhausted every other avenue and turn to it “as a last resort.” You will want to consider your decision carefully; your own well-being is at stake.

return to top

Chapter 3: So What’s The Plan?

Now you know a little more about what psychotherapy is, who it helps, and why therapy can be more helpful than talking to a friend or relative. You’ve asked yourself some hard questions about your willingness to commit to the process. If you are ready to begin planning for therapy, what you need—and what this book offers—is information to help you make wise decisions along the way. According to Larry Beutler, Bruce Bongar, and Joel Shurkin in Am I Crazy Or Is It My Shrink? if there is a gap in the services offered to those who seek therapy, it is that “…insufficient attention has been paid to helping patients prepare themselves for treatment and providing them with enough information so they can evaluate whether they are getting the best possible treatment for their particular problems.”

Moving in the world like a drop of
water in the sea.
Only knowing where I’ve been,
Unsure of where the current takes me.
Feeling so alone with all this water around me.

return to top

Chapter 4: How Are Therapists Trained?

After considering the Therapy Action Plan presented in Chapter 3, you’ve decided that therapy might work for you. You’ve taken a personal inventory and have some idea of your strengths and areas of concern. It’s almost time to start gathering information about potential therapists, but first you should know something about the various types of therapists and the theories on which they base their treatment methods. Assessing the training and competence of therapists is challenging. You’ll have a much better idea of how to go about it once you understand the differences in educational backgrounds and training.return to top

Chapter 5: How Do I Find The Right Therapist For Me?

You are now faced with one of the most critical decisions of the whole process. How do you find the right therapist? As the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song goes, “You’d better shop around.” If you are limited by your health plan to a select set of providers, you already have a place to start your search. (See Chapter 6 for details on health plan coverage of therapy.) Otherwise, you’ll be gathering names from various sources. Either way you’ll want to call each therapist and do a phone interview using the list of questions at the end of this chapter. Phone interviews can save you time and money. You may still need to do some interviewing in person, but at least you’ll have narrowed down the list. After the phone or in-person interviews, you’ll need to evaluate the therapists carefully and decide which one is right for you.

return to top

Chapter 6: Can I Afford Therapy?

If you have followed the Therapy Action Plan so far, you’ve come up with a list of therapists and are starting to narrow it down. But will you be able to afford therapy? For most people, soon after they start thinking about getting some help, they start thinking about the cost. Therapy can be expensive, and in the past it was available only to the wealthy. But today many health plans cover therapy at least to some degree, and if you don’t have insurance there are several low-cost avenues to explore, and a few places even offer limited therapy for no charge.

return to top

Chapter 7: What Happens At The First Session?

With your list of potential therapists in hand, you’ve interviewed them over the phone and decided on one or two who you will meet in person. You may be worrying about how to begin or what to say. Rest assured that most full-time therapists see several new clients a week, and they understand that you may be a little nervous.

If you’ve received a recommendation from a friend, or have received a welcoming packet from your therapist like Maria in Chapter 5 did, you may already have a pretty good sense of who this person is. If all you’ve had is a short conversation, you may feel like you still don’t know much at all about her. Don’t be afraid to ask for more detailed information related to some of the same questions you asked on the phone.

return to top

Chapter 8: Then What?

You’ve found a therapist you think you can work with, and you’re almost excited at the idea of finally having some help. But now reality is hitting you. How in the world are you going to fit therapy into your already-packed schedule? You’re wondering about how often you’ll have to go, if you should tell anyone or keep it to yourself, and how long it will take. You’re even beginning to be curious about how it actually works.

return to top

Chapter 9: How Will Therapy Affect My Relationships?

In the next chapter, you will learn about the “tools of the trade” that therapists use in order to help you. In this chapter, you’ll get a little preview, because the single most important tool therapists use is actually the relationship itself. As therapy progresses, your relationship with your therapist will be developing. You may wonder if the relationship is “normal,” how much you should tell your friends about your therapy sessions, and whether to recommend your therapist to others. Your relationships with family and friends will be changing as well as a result of the changes you make in therapy.

return to top

Chapter 10: What Techniques Will My Therapist Use?

As mentioned in Chapter 1, Freud laid the groundwork for much of our understanding of the mind and how it works. He was the first to practice psychotherapy and developed many of the ground rules for how it is conducted. Others have expanded upon his theories to create the body of psychological knowledge which exists today. Therapists must undergo a great deal of education and training before they can be licensed and certified. They must acquire a broad understanding of the major theories about treating mental and emotional problems, and learn to use an array of therapeutic techniques. As new theories emerge, corresponding new treatments are adopted which is why many therapists are required to attend continuing education classes to keep up their skills. Chapter 4 presented a brief overview of the major types of therapy and the theories on which they are based. In this chapter we will focus on the tools therapists use to treat their clients.

return to top

Chapter 11: Does It Really Work?

roject management, a critical part of the process is the assessment period at the end. You evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t in order to improve the process the next time around. It is just as important to evaluate your therapy from time to time. After all, if you are going to spend the time, money, and emotional energy, you want to make sure it is working. Your therapist may incorporate periodic evaluations into your therapy but if not, you may need to bring it up. If you established goals to begin with, you can return to your goals and determine which of them have been met and whether you are ready to set some new goals. As you feel better, you begin to elevate your expectations so even if you’ve met your initial goals, you may be ready to “raise the bar” a little higher. This chapter will help you to evaluate your therapy and to recognize the signs that it is working. If it is not as effective as you’d hoped, you may need to try a new game plan or ask your therapist to bring in a consultant to help you get back on track.

return to top

Chapter 12: How Does Therapy End?

Therapists usually think of therapy as having three distinct stages: the beginning, the middle, and the end. In the beginning, you and your therapist are trying to assess each other and to develop a working relationship. The middle of therapy is where much of the meat of therapy takes place and where many of the tools described in Chapter 10 are used. It is also a time of intense attachment to your therapist as you work out many of your conflicts with her. No matter what you feel about your therapist during this stage, and you will feel it all, from love to hate to admiration to abandonment, you will feel it strongly. This is because of the transference that takes place. In this stage, your therapist is not just your therapist, but also a representation of all of the people who are important to you. In the last stage of therapy, once you have worked out most of your inner conflicts, your therapist can again become just an ordinary person to you. You may still respect her and feel enormous gratitude for her help, but she will lose her “larger than life” place in your mind. At this point, it becomes easier to let go. And I do mean easier, not easy.

Tears of sorry,
Tears of joy.
Endings and beginnings.
Remembering the painstaking work.
You were the first
To teach me
That I am worthy
Simply because I am.

return to top

Chapter 13: What’s Next?

When your therapy is over, congratulate yourself! It’s time to celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve worked hard to gain new perspectives and initiate positive changes in your life. You may be asking yourself what comes next. During this post-therapy period, which is almost like a fourth stage of therapy, you will likely miss therapy but will also be glad to be on your own. You may find that you think about therapy most during the hour of the week when you had your scheduled therapy appointment. You’ll be anxious to get on with your life as opposed to talking about it, but you may still want to give yourself a little time before jumping right back into your normal load. If you’ve enjoyed the self-exploration and would like to continue the process, you may want to try out some alternative methods of improving your psychological health.

return to top
return to top