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Common Questions about Therapy

The decision to talk to someone about what's going on in your life is a big one.  Opening yourself up to another, or encouraging others in your family to do so is a sign of strength, as well as an indication that things can begin to get a little better.  But the first step is really just making the call.  If therapy is new for you, then you've no doubt got a couple questions about what therapy entails and what the process will be like.  The questions below are fairly common and may answer those you have.  Give them a review, and should you have other questions, or are in need of clarification, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 262.241.7778.

Why should I choose therapy?
If your car stops running, the only way to repair it is to figure out what the problem is. You may need a knowledgeable mechanic to do the repairs. And that person will need to have the right tools for that particular job.  Similarly, if you're not absolutely content with your life, it’s important to stop and look at what is not working. Let’s say, for example, you’re feeling alone and depressed, and you want to feel happy and have supportive relationships. There are many solutions that you can explore, and there is no single solution that will work for every individual.

Therapy consists of a professional relationship between you and the therapist, in which there is a mutual commitment to meet, usually weekly, at the same office and hour. A therapist is your guide in exploring your feelings, thoughts, relationships, and behaviors, and how they are affecting you.

Every therapeutic relationship, like every friendship, is unique, but there are some important differences between friendships and therapist-client relationships.• A defining characteristic of most friendships is that they are based on mutual support; there is a natural expectation that each individual will reciprocate equally in the relationship. Therapy is all about you.

Through the relationship you develop with your therapist, you can learn about your way of being with others, as well as how you treat yourself. She or he would help you confront your sense of self-value and difficulties in relating to others. Your therapist may also coach you to relate to others in new ways and to create new types of relationships and communities that work for you. 

How is therapy different from talking with a friend?

  1. • For most people, there are some issues that you feel you can’t talk about with your friends or family, such as concerns about deep anger, sexual problems, painful regrets, recurring stories, or frightening desires. In supportive therapy, you should be able to express freely everything that concerns you and prevents you from being at peace with yourself. You should be heard and understood non-judgmentally, and guided to confront these concerns as your path of healing.

  2. • Often in friendships, what you say isn’t guaranteed to be kept in confidentiality. In therapy, everything you express is kept in strict confidentiality, excluding those legal and ethical exceptions due to the need to protect you or others. If you feel constrained by the things you cannot share with others, therapy can be deeply liberating.

  3. • Friends often provide a different kind of support than therapists are trained to give. When you tell your friends about your conflicts with other people in your life, sometimes those friends will “take your side” by agreeing with you, even when it’s obvious you mishandled your part in the conflict. Therapists take your side in a different way, by helping you see more clearly your role in the situation, how you handled it, and how skillful you were in acting on your intentions. A good therapist helps you to create deep self-awareness that frees you to make lifelong changes in how you relate to others.

  4. • Most people struggle with the difficulties of bringing up the same old feelings and troubles with their friends. They think, often correctly, that their friends or family are tired of hearing the same story, and wish they would “get over it.” A therapist is trained to identify and focus on the underlying patterns in your stories, and non-judgmentally and professionally bring them into your awareness. Once they are in your awareness, the therapist guides you through processing these patterns so that you can effect change.

What types of therapists does Mequon Clinical Associates have? 
Mequon Clinical Associates is proud of its multidisciplinary approach and likely has the right provider and approach for you.  Basically, there are four types of therapists who get formally educated, trained, and licensed, each with specific backgrounds, philosophies, and techniques. These therapists (also called “psychotherapists” or “counselors”) are psychologists (Psy.D.), psychiatrists (M.D.), marriage and family therapists (M.F.T.), and social workers (L.C.S.W):

Psychologists with a Psy.D. are specifically trained to be clinical practitioners (working as therapists directly with their clients) and interpreters of research (which is more often a product of Ph.D.s). Much like Ph.D.s, psychologists with a Psy.D. are trained in assessment and diagnostic treatment of psychological disorders. Their emphasis is typically on direct clinical work, rather than research.

M.D. Psychiatrist (Doctor of Medicine):
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who undergo four years of clinical residency in psychiatry after receiving their medical degree and are trained in the medical aspects, biology, assessment, and diagnostic treatment of psychological disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe psychotropic medications.

L.M.F.T. (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist):
A licensed marriage and family therapist has a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on relationships. Master’s level therapists are usually trained in psychotherapy techniques, but do not study psychological assessment, theory, and research. Master’s students usually either go on toward their doctorate or become general psychotherapists.

L.C.S.W. (Licensed Clinical Social Worker):
Practitioners with an L.C.S.W. degree have earned a master’s degree in social work. Social Workers are usually case managers, often referred to as the liaison between the client and the community, helping them in cases of inadequate housing, unemployment, lack of job skills, financial difficulties, disabilities, and substance abuse. Some L.C.S.W.s also work as counselors.

Does seeing a psychologist mean there's something wrong with me?
No, it doesn’t mean there's something wrong with you.  To the contrary, it actually means that you're aware that you're aware that there's more you can do to live your life to the fullest.  And that's awareness and strength is a sign of strength.  In short, seeking the help you need to create the life you want is a positive sign of mental health. People come to therapy for a wealth of reasons.  You are likely to benefit from my help if you are experiencing one or more of the following:

  1. • You are experiencing symptoms such as sadness, depression, loss, anxiety, fear, or panic.

  2. •  You are experiencing conflict in your marriage, in your communication, your family, or your work.

  3. • You are going through an important life transition, and you want guidance in navigating it well.

  4. • You’re feeling “stuck,” lost, or unsatisfied in your life, and you want to create more direction, purpose, and success.

  5. • You want more joy, happiness, and peace in your life.

  6. • You want more fulfilling and deep relationships that are mutually supportive.

What if I'm nervous about beginnig therapy?
Most people who enter counseling feel nervous about starting, particularly if it’s their first time seeing a counselor. Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed by our problems and emotions, and it’s hard to know where to begin. You may question whether therapy can truly help, or you may think that you should be able to manage your concerns on your own.

Important relationships are often anxiety-producing in the beginning. Feeling nervous about seeing a counselor is a good indicator that there are some concerns you need to confront and changes that are important for you to make. And often, the best way to deal with anxiety is to just say you feel nervous when you call me, or any therapist. A key aspect of counseling is learning how to openly communicate your feelings and needs, so that you reduce the anxiety in the moment and can take control of getting your needs met.

How long does therapy last?
The typical therapeutic session is 45 - 50 minutes in length and occurs weekly or bi-weekly depending on clinical need or request.  

There are a number of factors that determine how long your course of therapy should be. Among them are the nature and severity of the concerns you want to work on; the long-term or short-term goals we decide on; your openness to the process and willingness to confront difficult issues; my skills and abilities to guide you through your personal journey; and the working relationship that we build together.

Each and every situation is different. Some concerns are resolved in a few sessions, while others may last much longer – several years or more. In the initial assessment session you should get an idea of how long it may take to reach your particular goals in therapy

Is therapy with private and confidential?
In general, all communications between a client and a licensed psychologist are, by law, private and confidential. Information can only releasedabout you with your permission. There are some legal exceptions, however.

These exceptions are:

  • Suspected child abuse or elder abuse. All therapists are required by law to report this immediately to the appropriate authorities.
  • If you intend to harm yourself. If this occurs I will make every effort to enlist your cooperation in ensuring your safety. If you do not cooperate, however, I may need to take additional measures without your permission in order to guard your safety.
  • If you threaten to seriously hurt another person. If this occurs I must notify the police and inform the intended victim(s).

Should you have any other questions or need more clarification, feel free to give us a call at 262.241.7778.