Since everyone is different, there is no one correct approach. Research suggests that the use of medication and psychotherapy in combination can be very helpful. The medication offers relief from severe symptoms, while psychotherapy enables you to gain knowledge about, and control of, yourself and your life. The usual result is enhancement of your quality of life.
Confidentiality is basic to therapy and the patient has the legal right to control access to information about their treatment. You should be aware however, that some insurance companies require certain information from the therapist as a condition for payment. If this is a major area of concern, it should be one of the subjects covered when you meet your therapist for the first time so that you are clear about your therapist’s policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and what information insurance companies require.
Because each of us is unique, there is no single answer to this question. The length of therapy depends on factors such as the types of issues you are working on, how long you have been struggling with your problems, the complexity of your situation, and what you are looking to accomplish. Sometimes brief interventions are very helpful. In other cases, months and years of work are invested in an in-depth exploration of your personal conflicts. The choice is yours and it can always be discussed with your therapist.
The greatest benefit of psychotherapy over other treatment options is that you are an active and vital participant in your own healing process. Because of this, and myriad other factors that may impede or accelerate your progress, there is no demonstrable way to guarantee success in therapy for everyone. However, with the right therapist, many people have changed their lives dramatically through psychotherapy.
If you have a patient, wise and understanding friend who will listen to your problems, you are very lucky indeed. But often, a shoulder to lean on is not enough. A professionally trained therapist has the objectivity and skills to help you uncover the issues that are really bothering you, see the patterns in your life that led to your unhappiness, and help you recognize and change those patterns.
Psychotherapy is a process that focuses on growth and change. Talking about our issues, assessing and understanding our feelings, makes it possible to become more aware of the source of our problems. This awareness enables us to make the most out of the options we have available to us. It also helps us to find ways to deal more effectively with our feelings and to choose the way we behave in every aspect of our lives. A good friend will offer understanding, love and comfort – nothing to sneeze at, but not enough.
Sadly, seeing a therapist is often associated with dependency and weakness. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, it takes great courage and humility to face your problems head on. Therapy is a journey of change and self discovery and you are in charge of that journey. The therapist will assist you in clarifying your thoughts and feelings and provide you with helpful tools and feedback, but you will make your own choices. The goal of therapy is to help you gain independence and decision making power over yourself and your behavior.
While CBT techniques may in fact be used by some of our therapists, please keep in mind that any program that promises a shortcut to mental health, or a quick fix for your problems, is very rarely successful. Like medication alone, these programs do very little to address the underlying causes of your problems.
You certainly can, but you need to realize that your general practitioner probably doesn’t have the depth of clinical experience that a licensed psychopharmacologist does. In addition, though medication alone may help in the short term, it does very little to address the underlying causes of your problems. If you do in fact need medication, the most effective course of action is generally a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Unfortunately, this is still a common misconception about psychotherapy. While past issues may indeed be addressed during your therapy, you and your therapist work together to create the course your therapy takes. Your therapist may suggest exploring certain areas, but there are many ways to approach this exploration; reliving your past does not need to be one of them. Nevertheless, understanding how your past has affected you can be very helpful in breaking free of the anxiety, fear, sadness, or guilt that often causes distress and seriously interferes with your life.