Therapy is the treatment of a disorder or illness. You have probably heard people discussing types of medical therapy, such as physical therapy or chemotherapy. However, the word “therapy” is most often used to mean the psychological treatment of emotional and behavioral problems.
Therapy is a process that is a lot like learning. Through therapy people learn about themselves. They discover ways to overcome troubling feelings or behaviors, develop inner strengths or skills, or make changes in themselves or their situations.
A therapist is a person who has been professionally trained to help people with their emotional and behavioral problems. Some therapists specialize in working with a certain age group or a particular type of problem. Other therapists treat a range of ages and issues. Therapists work in hospitals, clinics, counseling centers, schools or psychotherapy offices. Some work within organizations, for example, the NHS others work privately.
How Private Is It?
Therapists respect the privacy of their clients, and they keep things they are told confidential. A therapist will not tell anyone else about what a person discusses in his or her sessions unless that person gives permission to do so. The only exception to this is if the therapist believes his or her client may harm themselves or others or be at risk of harm. If the issue of privacy and confidentiality worries you, be sure to ask your therapist about it during your first meeting. It's important to feel comfortable with your therapist so you can talk openly about your situation.
Why Should I Consider Therapy?
Sometimes people who are trying as hard as they can to get through a rough time, such as family troubles or problems in school, find that they just cannot cope by themselves. They may be feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed by what has been happening – and need help sorting out their feelings, finding solutions to their problems, or just feeling better.
That's when therapy can help.
Here are just a few examples of situations in which therapy can help people through their problems:
Working with a therapist can help someone overcome depression, anxiety, painful shyness, or an eating disorder.
People in therapy can learn to deal with the emotional side of a weight problem or a chronic illness.
Therapy can help someone whose parents are going through a separation or divorce to sort through the many feelings these changes bring.
Therapy can help someone who has experienced a trauma, a difficult loss, or the death of someone close.
Working with a therapist can help a family that is troubled by too much fighting or anger, or a family struggling with alcoholism or other addiction problems.
Therapy can help teens sort out common problems such as peer pressure, and it can help people build self-confidence and develop friendship skills.
Therapy can offer a person support to get through a difficult time. Some people go to therapy to get help with managing their anger or to learn to get along better with others.
What Can Someone Gain From Therapy?
What someone gets out of therapy depends on why that person is there. For example, some people go to therapy to solve a specific problem. Others want to begin making better choices and others want to start to heal from a loss or a difficult life situation.
Therapy can help people discover more about themselves. People who work with therapists learn about motivations that lead them to behave in certain ways or about inner strengths they have. Sometimes they learn new coping skills, develop more patience, or learn to like themselves better. They can learn new ways to handle problems that come up or new ways to handle yourself in tough situations, which in turn can lead to a higher level of self-esteem.
People who work with therapist often find that they learn a lot about themselves and that therapy can help them grow and mature. Lots of people discover that the tools they learn in therapy when they are young help them cope with all kinds of difficult situations when they are older.
What Happens During Therapy?
If you see a therapist, he or she will talk with you about your feelings, thoughts, relationships, and important values. At the beginning, therapy sessions are focused on discussing what you'd like to work on and setting goals. Some of the goals people may set include things like:
Improving self-esteem and gaining confidence
Feeling less depressed or less anxious
Doing better with friends or schoolwork
Learning to relate without arguing and managing anger
Making healthier choices (for example, about relationships or eating) and ending self-defeating behaviors
During the first visit your therapist will probably ask you some questions about yourself and why you have come for therapy and encourage you to talk a bit about yourself. This helps the therapist understand you better. The therapist will ask you about the problems, concerns and symptoms you're having. The therapist will probably explain his or her understanding of your situation, how therapy could help, and what the process will involve. Together you and your therapist will decide on the goals for therapy and how frequently to meet. Some therapies have a set number of sessions when dealing with specific issues, for example CBT, however, generally, therapy sessions are agreed between you and your therapist and based on your needs. It is important to have reviews built into your therapy plan so you have opportunity to reflect on your sessions and make decisions about how to proceed. Usually this will be a discussion between you and your therapist about how you are doing in achieving the goals you set at the beginning of the therapy.
The therapist might help you learn new skills to help you think about a situation in a new way. For example, therapists can help people develop better relationship skills or coping skills, including ways to build confidence, express feelings or manage anger.
Most therapy is a combination of talking and listening, building trust, and receiving support and guidance. It might take a few meetings with a therapist before a person decides to talk openly. Trust is the most important ingredient in therapy- after all; therapy involves being open and honest with someone and talking about sensitive topics like feeling, ideas, relationships, problems, disappointments and hopes. A therapist is trained to be patient with people who need to take their own time talking about themselves and their situation.
Sticking to the schedule you agree on with your therapist and going to your appointments will ensure you have enough time with your therapist to work out your concerns. If your therapist suggests a schedule that you do not think you will be able to keep, be up front about it so you can work out an alternative.
Remember that this is your therapy and you have a say in how it works so if you have a preference that your therapist has not offered then do ask, most therapists can be flexible to suit your needs. Be sure that the therapist you choose feels right for you.