Important Information about the Process of Therapy

Therapy can be helpful. Most of us could benefit from therapy at one time or another during our lives. All of us need a little help once in awhile.

Therapy takes courage. It takes courage to reflect on various aspects of life and to intentionally choose to work on making changes. This is commendable.

Therapy can be rewarding. Many find therapy to be a supportive, gratifying, even enjoyable process that enhances personal life situations.

Therapy is an investment. A decision to participate in therapy is a decision to invest in yourself, your relationships, and your life situation. This process will involve a commitment of time and energy as well as emotional, intellectual, and financial resources. Actively working during and between therapy sessions is necessary to receive the maximum returns on these investments.

Therapy has potential benefits. Some of the generally recognized benefits of therapy include:

  • Increased insight about self, relationships, life situations
  • Addressing specific life concerns and problems
  • Development of ways to better manage personal and relational distress
  • Reduction of stress which is related to better overall health
  • Improved relationship interactions
  • Greater life satisfaction

Therapy has potential risks. Therapy is usually about change, and with change comes a degree of risk. Reflecting about and modifying perspectives, thoughts, or ways of acting and responding can be difficult and can sometimes even be unsettling to present relationships. Some uncomfortable feelings that may be experienced include regret, sadness, shame, guilt, anger, and anxiety. Some situations may seem to get worse before they get better. This is a perception experienced by many during therapy. However, for many, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Therapy uses various approaches. In order to find what is most helpful, approaches will be personalized with you depending on your specific situation and goals. Approaches may include the following:

  • Dialogue—collaboratively talking about your story and the concerns connected to your story
  • Exploring meanings—talking about possible meanings of your story
  • Cognitive reframing—viewing your story from different perspectives
  • Mindful awareness—becoming more attentive and thoughtfully responsive to situations
  • Self-monitoring activities—becoming consciously aware of what you think, do, feel
  • Reclaiming a silenced voice—increasing ability to assertively represent yourself and your views
  • Visualization—thinking about and seeing positive, desirable events in your mind’s eye
  • Journaling/Logging—writing about your thoughts, emotions, reflections, insights, questions
  • EMDR—Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing—a widely researched and accepted treatment approach used for reprocessing the memories of disturbing or traumatic events

If an approach has specific risks attached, your therapist will discuss the risks and benefits with you.

Therapy offers no guarantees. Because each client and each situation is different, experiences of therapy will vary. There are no guarantees about how you will experience or respond to therapy or about the outcomes of therapy for your personal situation.