The decision to seek psychological services is a crucial one. Apart from making the decision to seek therapy, choosing the best therapist for you, and researching what the service provides is important. Below is some information that may help you make a decision.
How can therapy help me?
Research suggests that 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 psychologists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the stressors 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 communication and listening skills
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your personal and professional life
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, sometimes people need additional and unbiased support. In fact, therapy works well for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand. This is to be respected as you are taking responsibility by accepting where you are 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 and manage 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 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 or bi-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 are some of the risks related to therapy?
Although psychological therapy is meant to be beneficial. it can also have some risks. As an example, therapy can bring forth uncomfortable emotions such as increased sadness, anger, or grief. Generally, such emotions resolve as you reach closer to your goals, but it is your responsibility to let your therapist know of such feelings when they occur. This way, your therapist can slow down the pace of therapy, examine your emotions in further detail, or change the direction of therapy.
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, psychological 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. Even in cases where medication is a requirement, psychological therapy can assist you with managing your daily activities, accepting the need for medication, and minimizing the impact of such on the qulaity of your life.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask include:
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?
At Odyssey Psychological Assessment and Counselling Services, payments are accepted through cash, cheque, or credit cards. Upon payment a receipt will be provided to you. Based on the terms of your policy, you may submit such receipts to your insurance carrier for reimbursement. Payments are due at the end of each session.
What is the length of sessions?
Sessions last between 45 to 50 minutes. Longer sessions are available based on need and are billed in 15 minute increments.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sesions required is based on the complexity of issues and your need. Your therapist will discuss the approximate number of sessions required at your first session.
Do you have any evening or weekend appointments?
Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.
Do you provide telephonic or Skype sessions?
Telephonic and skype appointments are avaiable based on appropriateness and need.
What hapens if I cannot attend a scheduled appointment?
Appointments must be cancelled with at least 48 hours notice. Appointments not cancelled within that timeframe will be billed the full session rate. Some exceptions may apply based on emergencies. These situations are assessed on a case by case basis.
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.
There are some exceptions to confidentiality and these can occur in the folowing circumstances:
* If a client is at an imminent threat of harming him/herself or others.
* If there is disclosure of past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders. This disclosure may occur to Child Protection and law enforcement based on information provided.
* If your files are subpoenaed by the Court or any other official body with the appropriate authority.
Dr. Naheed Jawed is a psychologist in Airdrie, Calgary and surrounding areas providing psychological assessments and mental health counselling for adults.