Do I need therapy?
Therapy is beneficial for many situations and concerns, but the simplest way to answer this is…….Is the current stressor or issue that is having you seek therapy starting to impact your work, school, relationships, or social area of your life? Do you find your self avoiding something or someone? If you answered yes to any of these questions, than it may be a good time to seek consultation with a therapist. Some utilize therapy to work on an on-going theme in their life like low self-esteem, performance anxiety, or wanting to be more assertive. Therapy can also be beneficial when a sudden unexpected event occurs or an event that is more emotionally overwhelming than the everyday obstacles we face. Examples would be life transitions (college, parenting), loss of a job, divorce, loss of a loved one, a traumatic event, or suddenly being reminded of a past traumatic event.
What are the benefits of therapy?
I feel the ingredient that makes therapy beneficial is the confidential and non-judgmental space that no other space can provide. Of course our family and friends love us enough to not share things we express in secret, and try with their best intent to be non-judgmental (or maybe they don’t try) but are they non-judgmental in the true sense of the word? For example, are their times that you’re really not looking for feedback but they offer it anyway? Or deep down you know that everything will be okay, but you’re not ready to hear it or don’t believe it quite yet? You feel like they’re not truly listening.
I want to make sure that you’re heard and understood and get a real good sense of where you’re at. We all need to tell our story and have our story heard. The therapeutic relationship is a space of safety and trust so that you feel you can be truly open and honest, and overcome what may be bothering you.
How confidential is therapy?
Every therapist, as well as teachers, day-care staff, pastors, medical personnel, law enforcement, and anybody who in some shape or form work with children, are by law required to report reasonable suspicion of child abuse, elder abuse, and if your safety or the safety of others are at risk, if such information is made known to the therapist through their work with you. BUT, please don’t let this be a deterrent for you if you feel you can benefit from therapy, because, it is often these very concerns that can be changed and hopefully resolved through our work in therapy. It is much better to work through it together, than to let it continue or let the pain from it continue.
Therapists also have the right to share your information with third party payers, such as your insurance provider, as long as the information being shared is solely for the purpose of providing the services. It is up to you if you want to utilize insurance to cover for services or pay for services out of pocket. I support whatever decision my clients choose.
Detailed conversations within sessions are kept confidential with the exception of the safety issues mentioned above. When working with minors under age 18 years old, information between therapist and the minor is not shared with parents or others except again in regards to the above safety issues. Any other communication with someone outside of therapy session can only be done so with your signed authorization.
How do I know if my teen needs therapy?
This is sometimes a challenge for parents both because teens often keep it to themselves or at least from parents. Indicators that your child may need to see a therapist is of course if you hear from another person that your teen has experienced a traumatic event, but also if you see a sudden change in their mood, sleep, appetite, behavior, and/or bowel movements and it is occurring almost daily, if not daily. You may also receive complaints from teachers observing similar changes.
Additional signs are decline in grades, decline in school/class attendance, decline in time spent at home, change in peer group, decreasing in social engagement or activities, or unusual cuts or burns in different areas of their body. It is common at this age to see them withdraw to their room more often but if your instinct is telling you that it’s excessive, or they’re acting excessively secretive, it’s is important to listen to your intuition.
Just one of these signs does not indicate a problem, but several of these signs combined could be an indication that something may be going on with your teen and a good time to at least consult with a therapist.
Medication vs. Therapy
My approach on this is the least amount of treatment interventions needed to be successful is best. I usually discuss medication as a last option rather than the first option. Having said that, there are times when I would recommend medication if its going to help you achieve your goals, to regain confidence and enjoyment in life.
- If a person’s condition is organically based and has been assessed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or primary care physician as such, medication can be very helpful in reducing and stabilizing symptoms. Some examples of organically based mental health disorders are Clinical Depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and ADHD.
- Medication can also be beneficial when someone may be in crisis and symptoms are so severe, that they are not able to stay safe without them or are not able to benefit from therapy because of their current symptoms. An example may be Panic Attacks and the attacks are occurring so frequently that they are not able to complete daily obligations or unsafe to do so (i.e., work, school, driving, supervising children, etc.) and they are not able to focus on discussions in therapy. Medication for a temporary period of time can be helpful in stabilizing symptoms long enough to help a person focus and learn more adaptive skills, and then taper off medication towards the end of therapy.