What is the difference between a counselor and a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication. Counselors, such as myself, traditionally focus on the wellness model versus the medical model, and mainly provide therapy. We like to help educate and talk with our clients about everything that influences their well-being and possible changes they could make to improve their overall wellness. Unlike a psychiatrist, counselors cannot prescribe medication.
Should I take medication or go into psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be permanently solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curbs 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 both medication and therapy is the right course of action.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Reaching out for help feels very uncomfortable for me.
Believe it or not, you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable about this! Many people feel uncomfortable reaching out for help because of many reasons. The message we receive as a society is that if we ask for or need help, we are weak. What if you give yourself permission to believe that asking for help is actually a sign of strength? You have strengths that you’ve most likely used in the past, but for whatever reason those skills might not be working for you right now. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed and that is making it difficult for you to access those strengths you have within you. In our work together, I will help you identify and utilize those strengths.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
I believe this is one of the most amazing and impactful parts of counseling. In counseling, you don’t have to filter your experience, you don’t have to tailor your story. You can be authentically you! A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” In counseling, you are talked to in a way that most of your friends probably don’t talk to you. You are asked different types of questions that allow you to explore yourself in a way that is different than if you were having the same conversation with a friend or family member.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Therapy will be different for each person. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs, and therefore no two sessions are alike. In general, you can expect to discuss the current happenings in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session or outside of your session. I tend to bring in outside research, exercises, books, etc., and I usually have you work on your skills outside of session. By the time our journey is completed together, the goal is that you’re able to act as your own counselor!
How long will it take?
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 weekly sessions initially, and then space them out as you see progress.
If I commit to therapy, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of therapy?
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in and commit to the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Beyond the work we do in your therapy sessions, I am a big advocate for implementation of skills and homework outside of our sessions together. In order to see change, we must implement our work in our daily lives.