A. Many individuals and couples talk to a therapist. As a matter of fact, more than 10 million Americans see a therapist every year.
A. The most frequent request presented to therapists is help to improve a relationship. Anxiety, frustration, irritation, and depression are also common complaints. Alcohol and drug problems are also frequently discussed.
A. Some individuals think that therapy is only for those who are severely disturbed, and therefore think that therapy might not be helpful to them. Others had difficulty admitting that they have problems. Some people think that no one will be able to help them solve their problems. Some people are concerned that they wouldn't be themselves if they made changes. And other individuals think that they can't afford therapy.
A. Although there are many different types of therapy, the primary three theoretical approaches are psychodynamic, humanistic-existential, and cognitive-behavioral approaches.
Psychodynamic therapy draws on psychoanalytic (or Freudian) principles and techniques. This includes examining and resolving unconscious conflicts. The client's early history is seen as extremely important in the formation of the character structure of the person. There is an assumption that the client will be able to make desired changes only after the underlying causes are resolved.
Humanist-Existential psychotherapy considers the whole person (mind, body and spirit) and focuses on helping the client to heal themselves and work toward a more authentic self. It aims at enabling client to find constructive ways to better deal with the challenges of life, and focuses on the client's individual experience of distress and leads to exploring and clarifying beliefs and values. It examines core issues including: death, freedom vs. responsibility, isolation and meaninglessness. It respects the importance of past, present and future.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on helping clients identify and examine faulty beliefs, distressing emotions, and ineffective behaviors. The client then learns to think more realistically, which will lead to feeling better, and then chooses more effective actions. In this system, the present and the future is more important than the past.
Since no one therapy approach works for all people and for all problems, I borrow from the different approaches to help clients.
A. Therapy lasts as long as the client chooses. Some individuals feel satisfied after a few sessions. More commonly clients remain in therapy for about 15 to 20 sessions. Sometimes clients require more therapy to reach their desired goals. The major factors that contribute to the length of time in therapy include: the severity of the current problems; the client's personality, history and current coping strategies; and the client's willingness to learn new skills and sustain the desirable changes.
A. Two out of three clients report that, because of therapy, they feel better about themselves and more confident that they can handle the problems of their lives. However, some people may not benefit nor feel satisfied with therapy. Factors that may contribute to the success or failure of therapy include: the difficulty of the problem; the motivation to make changes: the willingness to apply therapeutic principles, the competence of the therapist, and the length of therapy.
A. A psychologist has received a PhD or a PsyD from a university (after completing about 6 to 9 years of post-graduate training and an internship). A psychiatrist has received an M.D. from medical school (after completing about 8 to 10 years of post-graduate training and residency). A social worker, a licensed professional counselor, or a licensed marriage and family therapist have received a Master’s degree (MA, MS or MSW) from a graduate school (after completing about 3 to 5 years of post-graduate training and internship). Although they all do therapy, a psychologist is additionally trained in assessment and a psychiatrist can prescribe medication. I am a clinical psychologist.
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