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Articles by Kathy

Is It Possible You Could Benefit?
Written by Kathy Reedy

Many people believe a therapist only intervenes in a crisis or only treats a diagnosed mental illness. However, both assumptions are false. As a clinical social worker practicing for over fourteen years, it is my experience that many people do not realize help is available. Getting professional help early on in a problematic situation can prevent the circumstances from escalating unnecessarily. People often postpone seeking professional help hoping that time alone will bring about a resolution.

Most people do not know what therapy is and what it is a therapist does. Therapy is talking to a therapist who is there to listen and guide you on your journey toward an effective resolution of the problem or concern that brings you to their office. Some obstacles to seeking professional help are fear of naming the problem and shame in admitting you may need help. Therapy is feared because people tend to think you have to be sick or may be mentally ill to seek treatment. This is a common misconception and one of the many. Recognizing that you need help and then seeking the help you need are signs of strength and not weakness. Early intervention can prevent years of pain, guilt, anger, and depression. Therapy offers an opportunity to explore your feelings and grow emotionally. What you may gain is an ability to make better decisions and healthier choices in your life.

There are many reasons to seek the assistance of a therapist. Are you concerned about a problem in your marriage, family, or work? The earlier the intervention in marital problems around communication, financial, parenting, and sexual issues, the less suffering you are prone to incur. Obtaining a therapy consultation early in a problem may prevent long term emotional damage to yourself or to a relationship. It is sad when people seek therapy only after suffering many years of pain and heartache.

Have you ever been told by a loved one, friend, or employer that you have an alcohol or drug problem? Have you ever thought you had an alcohol or drug problem? Do you have a family history of alcohol or other drug use? Do you know anxiety and depression are common problems and can lead to life long difficulties in personal and work relationships? You do not have to be the person with alcoholism to be affected. If you are living with an alcoholic you are being affected in ways that are probably not obvious.

Do you have problems communicating your feelings effectively to the people who are most important to you? Do you keep running into familiar old patterns no matter where you find yourself? Do you have problems at work with peers or authority figures? Do you have problems in relationships? Do you keep finding yourself attracted to people who cannot give you what you want or are looking for in a relationship? Do you encounter the same old arguments with your spouse, children, or boss?

Have you ever thought you were eating for reasons besides physical hunger? Could you be eating to fill an emotional void or to stuff unwanted or painful feelings? Have you been depressed enough to consider suicide or harming yourself in some other way? Do you drive recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs? Are you involved in compulsive spending, shopping, gambling, or shoplifting? Have you grown up in a family where secrets are kept? For example, does or has your family hidden a pregnancy before marriage, a death or suicide, alcohol or drug problems, depression or anxiety, separation or divorce, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

These are the kinds of issues that can lead to long term psychological problems. You cannot change the past, however, by seeking therapy you can prevent the long term detrimental effects of many problems addressed. Not talking about an issue that is bothering you is a guarantee it will accumulate and begin to drain more and more of your time and energy.

Psychotherapy provides an opportunity to change, alter, or modify feelings, attitudes, and behavior you find recurring and problematic. Essentially, therapy is a process of learning more about yourself. It requires an honest sharing of thoughts and feelings about yourself and about the important people in your life.

Simply put psychotherapy is talking to the therapist about what is on your mind. There is nothing magic about the process. Many people do not realize how valuable it is to be able to talk openly and freely with a therapist. It gives you an opportunity to listen to your inner self and decide what it is you want and need in life. In a subsequent article I will address guidelines for how to go about finding a therapist.
Guidelines for Finding a Therapist
Written by Kathy Reedy

The need for a therapist usually arises in a crisis situation, at a time when you are vulnerable. Finding a competent therapist who can best meet your needs and your personality requires decision making on your part. The following guidelines are intended to help you during this strenuous time to select the best therapist for you and to minimize the risk to your ongoing mental health and well being.

  • Think about what you want and need. You need to ask yourself what kind of person you are looking for and what your goals are in entering therapy. Would you rather have a male or female therapist? Do you have a particular age in mind for the therapist? Perhaps a trusted friend, professional or co- worker could recommend a therapist. Personal or professional experience with the therapist would be beneficial.
  • Consider the therapist’s training. There are several types of therapists, including clinical social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, psychiatric nurses, counselors, and psychiatrists all trained to provide therapy. Psychiatrists are the only professionals licensed to prescribe medication. You can ask the non medical therapist you select if they have provisions for gaining medication consultations if needed. Regardless of your decision, determine whether the therapist is licensed by the state or any other certifying body to practice psychotherapy in his or her particular discipline. The profession of psychotherapy is not strictly regulated and anyone can call himself or herself a “therapist or counselor.” It makes sense to choose a therapist with specific training and knowledge in the particular problem that confronts you.
  • Consider the therapist’s informal qualifications. The right chemistry between therapist and patient is extremely important. A therapist should be someone with whom you are able to discuss the most intimate details of your life. However, you should not anticipate such a comfort level during your first session with the therapist. Trust takes time and cannot be accomplished in a single session. Nonetheless, you need to come away from the session feeling as if the therapist is someone you are going to be able to talk openly and candidly with about your problems.
  • Interview a couple of therapists to get their recommendations about what they think would be best for you and your specific problem. This will provide you with important information from which you can base your decision making. Is he or she willing to answer your questions? Another important issue to discuss with the therapist in the initial interview is the fee involved in treatment and how payment will be handled. You may want to know if the therapist can offer any kind of time frame for your treatment.
  • Above all do not be intimidated by titles or credentials. Pay attention to how you are feeling with the therapist. Make sure you are satisfied with the answers you receive from the therapist pertaining to training and credentialing issues. If you are not comfortable, do not hesitate to seek another opinion. Studies indicate that the greater stress an individual is under the more likely he or she is to settle for the first therapist found. Listen to the therapist’s answers to your questions. Do they communicate respect, empathy, and warmth towards you and the problem that brings you to them? Does the therapist’s style of interacting and relating to you resonate with you and your personality style? In other words, are you a good match for each other?

Choosing a therapist may be one of the most important decisions you are likely to make. This decision needs your serious thought and consideration. The combination of referral from trusted friends or other members of your health care team, the therapist’s appropriate training for your particular problem, and the feel of the interpersonal fit will go a long way toward helping you make this decision effectively.