Therapy Questions Answered
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Does my child need therapy?
There are many reasons that children and adolescents need or can benefit from therapy services. If you are considering making an appointment for your child or teen, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many parents bring their children and teenagers to therapy and they greatly benefit from working with a psychologist. As the parent, you are the expert on your child and their behavior. Trust your instinct if you feel like something is just not right.
Reasons a child or teen may need therapy include the following:
• School difficulties take a range of forms and include avoidance, defiance, and poor performance. Therapy and/or assessments can help identify the cause, teach skills to be successful, and help improve academic performance as well as social and emotional functioning in school.
• Life changes: Divorce or separation, blending families, parents’ job loss, moving, change of schools, and loss of a pet or loved one are some life changes that can be supported through therapy.
• Unsafe behavior such as self-harm or drug and alcohol use can be reduced through therapy.
• Therapy can focus on reducing Anxiety, Depression, mood instability and difficulty regulating emotions.
• Peer Issues: such as social isolation and peer conflict can be addressed by improving social skills. Bullying can also be addressed in therapy.
• Executive function skills: attention, concentration, memory, and organization are skills that can be helped by therapy.
There are many other reasons to seek therapy for your child, your child may benefit from therapy even if the behavior or concern is not listed here.
What do I tell my child about going to therapy for the first time?
What you tell your child about seeing a psychologist for the first time will depend on the age of your child and the reason you are seeking therapy. Here are few tips to help prepare him or her:
• Be honest about the fact that your family is going to see a psychologist.
• Identify the areas that you are hoping will improve for the whole family.
• Talk to your child in a positive manner about the idea of going to therapy. Avoid giving the impression they are in trouble or they are going to see a therapist because there is something "wrong" with them that needs to be "fixed."
• Help your child understand that everyone need a little extra help sometimes to deal with things that are challenging.
• Let them know that it is important there is a good fit with the therapist and that after a few meetings you can discuss how it is going.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your health insurance, the first thing you should do is call your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.
Assessment Questions Answered
The Center for Psychology and Learning provides a broad range of assessment services. Common referrals include: IQ testing, giftedness testing, educational testing for learning disabilities, neuropsychological testing of executive functioning, memory, and attention, and psychological assessments of personality and behavioral functioning.
What is Psychological Testing?
Psychological testing refers to the battery of tests administered to evaluate the intellectual, learning, emotional and/or behavioral functioning. Children are typically referred for an assessment by their parents, pediatrician, or school for evaluation of:
· Attentional Problems or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
· Learning disabilities
· Processing problems or difficulties with executive functioning skills
· Autism spectrum disorders
· Emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders
· Psychological factors associated with medical conditions
· Disruptive behavior disorders
· Parent-Child relational problems
· Challenges in interacting with peers or adults
The test battery varies depending upon the referral questions, and can include a structured interview, assessment of intellectual capability, evaluation of executive functioning skills such as attention, processing and memory, academic achievement measures, projective measures, self-report surveys, parent and teacher checklists, and a school observation. The Center for Psychology and Learning places emphasis on working closely with schools to problem-solve for your child, for example by conducting school observations to understand the behaviors or concerns at school, and to share information effectively with school-based teams. Many evaluators are not familiar with educational processes and regulations, and thus write reports that are not easily adapted by the school or create an adversarial experience. Our experience in working with students in school sets our practice apart.
What types of assessment do we conduct?
During the evaluation process, an individualized testing battery is designed by the psychologist, based on the unique needs of the client and the questions to be answered within the evaluation.
INTELLIGENCE TESTING: A thorough evaluation of a student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, which can include assessing developmental delays, intellectual giftedness, intellectual disabilities, language and communication skills, nonverbal reasoning skills, and processing speed.
ACHIEVEMENT TESTING: Educational testing examines academic achievement in order to determine the student’s skill level in areas of reading, mathematics and writing. In addition, the psychoeducational assessment can determine if the student has a specific learning disability such as dyslexia.
NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING: Neuropsychological assessments include testing in the areas of motor skills, visual-spatial skills, auditory-verbal skills, memory, and executive functioning, Executive functioning includes attention, organization and planning. Impairment in executive functioning skills is often related to a range of academic, behavioral and emotional difficulties. This is a very comprehensive evaluation that includes intellectual evaluation as well as neuropsychological tests.
PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING: Psychological testing includes evaluation of emotional functioning and personality evaluation. Assessments may include evaluation of the student’s behavioral, emotional, and social skills which may affect a child or adolescent's functioning at home and at school. We can include measures of depression, anxiety and adaptive skills in the testing, as well as provide a specific psychiatric diagnosis as is necessary.
Our assessments lead to detailed educational recommendations that can be used for educational planning and therapy recommendations that can assist in accomplishing treatment related goals.
What should I tell my child about the appointment?
Preparing your child for testing can help minimize anxiety and encourage cooperation. Before the day of testing, it is helpful to remind the child what the day will be like. Explain that the psychologist will learn all about them by asking them to answer questions, engage in activities, and complete school-like tasks. Testing can find out what a child is good at, look at how children learn in different ways, and help parents and teachers understand how he/she learns best. The day will include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories as well as some school-like tasks like reading and math. While your child will be challenged, he or she will probably have fun with some of the tasks.
What happens after the testing?
Approximately two weeks after the testing, you will return to the office without your child for a discussion of the results. Depending on the age of your child, he or she may be included in the discussion. At this appointment, the psychologist will review the testing results, discuss recommendations, and answer any questions you may have. A written report is provided within one or two weeks of that appointment. The report provides a written record of the testing that was completed, and provides specific recommendations so that parents, educational staff, physicians, and other professionals working with your child can coordinate a treatment plan that will enable your child to succeed.