What is the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mental health issues interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication. Therapists are professionals who specialize in understanding mental health. They provide counseling and do not 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 solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, 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 both medication and therapy is the right course of action.

What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?

The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. 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, allowing you to be open and honest without worrying about your privacy being violated.

How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress and insights from the previous therapy session. Therapy with me will also allow you to work at clearing out issues that are keeping you stuck in your life.

How long will it take?

This is completely up to you. I do not tell people when their therapy is complete, as that is a very personal decision that only you can make. I will work with you on whatever goals you bring into therapy for as long as you find it helpful and worthy of your time, energy, and money. Some people come into therapy with a very specific issue, such as a car accident they can’t shake, and only wish to come to a small number of sessions until they return to their previous functioning. Some people want to do profoundly deep healing work and are willing to spend years invested in that process because they find it rewarding and liberating. When asked, I will always answer questions as honestly as I am able about what I see happening in the process and give you my professional opinion on the status of your goals, but I will always return the decision to you and respect whatever you believe is best for you.

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 the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, if you are receptive to “homework”, I can suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your progress – such as practicing relaxation skills, journaling on a specific topic, reading a pertinent book, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.