Frequently Asked Questions
What Exactly IS Therapy?
Going to Therapist Does NOT Mean You Are "Crazy"
The belief that people who go to therapy are "crazy" or "damanged" is not true. Unfortunately, many in our society still view a visit to a counselor as a sign of some inherent weakness or deficiency in the person. This view is outdated and even foolish. Consulting a counselor can be viewed the same as when one visits another professional, such as a physician. While on the one hand we could say someone has a physical weakness if they get the flu and have to visit their physician, on the other hand we could say that person is wise to seek the help of a trained professional. It is the same for an emotional or behavioral problem; that is, it is wise (not weak) to seek professional help.
Therapy can be for individuals, couples, families, or small groups. Most commonly people who seek counseling include every day, ordinary people struggling with eveyr day human problems such as depression, general anxiety and stress, trauma, relationship struggles, difficult childhood or family experiences (past and present). Only a very small percentage of people undergoing psychotherapy qualify as having a serious mental illness, and these folks typically find their way into programs that offer a higher level of care than the average private practice therapist can offer. If a person is afraid of being judged as crazy by others or by their own inner-critic for going to therapy, then therapy would be especially useful in building self-esteem and freeing one from the limitations of what others think.
Therapy Reduces Suffering
Therapy, or psychotherapy, is the process of meeting wiht a therapy for the purose of resolving problematic behaviorals, beliefs, feelings, and/or somatic responses (sensations in the body). Therapy is a time set aside where you can talk about just you--a safe haven where you can be completely honest without eing judged. Therapy consists of the therapist helping you gain a greater understanding of the motivations underlying your thoughts and feelings in order to help you make changes in how you think and act. You may explore the past, thus leading to a better present. You start to figure out why you do the things that you do. You open your mind to new ideas and new ways of thinking and learn to relate to people around you in healthier ways.
Therapy Promotes Self-Actualization
Therapy is a process that assists people toward self-growth and motivates one to work toward achieving one's full potential. In addition to overcoming barriers and helping people to release extreme beliefs and feelings, therapy can help people to increase their positive qualitieis such as joy, compassion, peace, self-esteem, spiritual connection, and love. Many people enjoy therapy and relish the journey of becoming more conscious about themselves, their inner world, and their relationships with others.
How Does Therapy with Children Work?
Children can benefit from therapy due to many issues that the child is experiencing. Some children may seek therapy due to poor school performance, behavioral problems at home and school, attnetion deficit and hyperactivity, anxiety or stress, depression, or major life adjustments such as moving away, parents' divercing, or death and grieving. Psychotherapy with children can include working with the the child and/or the family. The therapist usually utilizes talk therapy, behavioral thrapy or play therapy. Occasionally, a psychologist will do assessments or testing with children if their parents, doctors, or teachers think a more thorough assessment is necessary and could be helpful, or if they are having trouble in school. Therapists and psychologists also consult with other doctors and teachers about the child and issues related to them (such as bullying, attention difficulties, behavioral problems, etc.)
What is a psychologist?
As social scientists, psychologists have conducted extensive research, over the past 100 years, to further our knowledge about human behavior, human development, psychological problems, the measurement and understanding of personality characteristics, and other important areas of knowledge about how people think feel and behave.
As health care professionals, psychologists apply what they have learned about human behavior, human development, psychological problems, the measurement and understanding of personality characteristics, and other important areas of knowledge about how people think, feel and behave, to help people resolve personal adjustment problems, overcome emotional illness, and seek a better understanding of themselves. A professional psychologist has broad knowledge about human behavior, and understands how to apply that knowledge to help people change.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists and psychiatrists both provide treatment to individuals with emotional problems. Psychology is both a profession and an independent scientific discipline.
Psychiatry is a specialization within the field of medicine.
Psychology is founded on the study of all human behavior, both normal and abnormal. Psychiatry focuses on the treatment of emotional illness.
Psychologists focus on the environmental and learning-based causes for emotional problems.
Psychiatrists see emotional problems as a medical illness process, based on some abnormality or malfunctioning of the human body.
Psychologists help people control and change their own behavior as a primary method of treating problems. Psychiatrists prescribe medication as a primary means of changing people’s behavior.
Both psychologists and psychiatrists assume that complex emotional problems are more likely to be the result of both biological and psychological causes.
How do I select a psychologist?
Selecting a psychologist is similar to selecting any other professional. You should assess the psychologist’s credentials, including both training and experience. Discuss the fees before you begin treatment, and verify your insurance coverage for psychological treatment. Ask questions about the services that will be provided, so you will not get something different from what you expected. Finally, spend enough time talking to the psychologist prior to the initial meeting to determine how comfortable you feel when interacting with the psychologist.
Here are some important questions to ask:
- Is the psychologist licensed to practice in your state?
- Does the psychologist have experience treating your specific problem?
- What other experience does the psychologist have?
- Does the psychologist have a specialty?
- What kind of treatment will be used for your problem?
- What is the cost of treatment?
- What are the billing policies? Is insurance coverage accepted?
- Is there a sliding fee if you can’t afford the full cost of treatment?
- Is the office conveniently located?
- What are the office hours?
- Is an appointment available within a few days?
- If you have health problems, will the psychologist consult with your physician?
- If you are taking medication will the psychologist work with your physician?
What is involved in training a psychologist?
On average, psychologists complete approximately five to seven years of graduate education and professional training, beyond a bachelor’s degree. In the United States, the practice of psychology is regulated by law in all fifty states, plus Guam and the District of Columbia.
The minimal acceptable standard of training for a psychologist today is a doctoral degree in psychology or a closely allied field. Psychologists are “Doctors” but they are not physicians, and they do not prescribe medication. The doctoral degree in psychology typically takes four to five years of full time graduate study beyond a college degree. The degree may be a Ph.D., a Psy.D. or an Ed.D., depending upon the graduate training program.
The coursework includes training in the science of psychology, with core courses covering the social, developmental, learning and biological bases for human behavior. This typically includes training in personality theory, normal growth and development, and the nature of psychological problems and psychopathology. Specialized training is also provided in diagnostic evaluation techniques, psychological testing, and psychotherapy and/or counseling methods.
Psychologists also learn how stress, traumatic events, aging, and cultural background affect human behavior as well. Many courses have practicum requirements, which combine clinical experience and classroom knowledge.
Some psychologists have training at the Master’s level. This involves about two years of full time graduate training beyond the Bachelor’s degree, in the same subject areas used to train doctoral level psychologists.