How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Understanding and utilizing DBT skills and coaching to address tenacious life problems like mood disorders, self-harm, Borderline Personality Disorder, suicidality and relationship issues
Effective ways to parent your teenager and young adult
Discovering your spiritual life
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Help with transitions like adding a new baby, adoption, empty-nesting and retirement
Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improving communications and listening skills
Enhancing your sex life and improving your dating relationships
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. 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 sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
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 session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
There are four major components of our DBT program: skills training group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team.
DBT Skills Training group meets weekly for 1.5 hours and it takes 12 weeks to get through our skills curriculum, which is often repeated for another 12 weeks to create a 6 month program. Skills training group covers the five modules of Understanding Dialectics, Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
Weekly individual sessions are held that focus on enhancing motivation and helping patients apply skills to specific challenges and events in their lives. This is done through the completion of diary cards and behavior chain analysis.
DBT phone coaching is focused on providing patients with in-the-moment coaching on how to use skills to effectively cope with difficult situations that arise in their everyday lives. Patients can call their individual therapist between sessions to receive coaching at the times when they need help the most.
DBT therapist consultation team is intended to be therapy for the therapists and to support DBT peers in their work with people who often have severe, complex, difficult-to-treat disorders. The consultation team is designed to help therapists stay motivated and competent so they can provide the best treatment possible. Our team meets weekly and is composed of individual therapists and group leaders who share responsibility for each patient’s care.
There is increasing evidence that DBT skills training alone is a promising intervention for a wide variety of both clinical and nonclinical populations and across settings.
What skills are taught in DBT?
- Understanding Dialectics: Learning about internal conflicts, contradictions and black/white thinking.
- Mindfulness: The practice of being fully aware and present in our lives.
- Distress Tolerance: How to tolerate discomfort in painful and difficult situations.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: How to ask for what you want and say “No” while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others.
- Emotion Regulation: How to understand and regulate emotions.
You can learn more about the development and research of DBT at www.behavioraltech.com.
What about medication vs. 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 medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
What options do I have if my insurance does not cover therapy or if I do not have insurance?
Some insurance plans do not cover mental health services or some folks just don't have insurance. If you do not have mental health coverage but you do have insurance, call your insurance provider and ask them if you have a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA). If so, these special pre-tax savings accounts may reimburse you for the cost of therapy. Once you pay for therapy you can submit your bill to this account and receive full or partial reimbursement.
If you do not have health insurance at all, it may be possible for you to pay for your care in cash or credit card as a way to care for yourself. Sometimes the out of pocket costs of individual appointments is far less expensive than paying the monthly cost of insurance. However, if you cannot afford insurance and need mental health care, please contact me directly as I offer a sliding fee scale for individuals and families who cannot afford to pay the full price of my care.
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.