In my next series, we will be discussing what therapy is, how to get the most out of therapy, and therapy misconceptions.
Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy”, is a treatment for mental and emotional health. It centers around addressing a person’s feelings, emotions, behaviors, and thinking patterns. Clinicians develop treatment plans and goals to address specific issues. Therapists can also use certain means of treatments or “modalities” such as cognitive behavior therapy which focuses on how our thoughts influence our emotions and feelings. Therapists also provide “psychoeducation”, such as more information about your diagnosis or ways to improve your mental health. Therapists may also give homework assignments and ways for the client to practice certain techniques between sessions. The most important part of therapy is developing a “therapeutic relationship” where the client feels comfortable with the therapist. Therapy is a collaborative process with both the client and therapist bringing topics into the session. Therapists are non-judgmental and objective in their thinking. They are the perfect person to bring their issues to as an outside observer.
Therapists are meant to give options and feedback to the client, NOT advice which is a common misconception. What happens in sessions remains confidential and is only discussed with supervisors or other professionals as needed. If a client is determined to be at risk as harming themselves or others, we are mandated to report this for the safety of everyone.
Therapy can be for everyone and not necessarily only for people with severe mental health challenges. Often, diagnosis must be made for insurance reimbursement and do not always reflect the issues that are being treated. For example, the best treatment for situational depression and anxiety is to process is through talk therapy.
There are different types of clinicians and I am a licensed master’s level social worker. This means that I am required to receive supervision to review my clients and any issues that come up with them. This is often 1 hour per week individually or in a group. This is to help me grow as a clinician and learn how to do my job the best I can. Social workers also work in a variety of settings such as school, hospitals, and clinics, with my work primarily in community mental health and private practice.