Kathi Whitten, LCSW - Individual, Couple & Family Psychotherapy

What  Happens In Psychotherapy?
 
People don't always know what to expect when entering therapy. They sometimes worry they'll be judged or viewed as somehow weak or unable to manage their own lives. Often these ideas are based on out-dated thinking, or sensationalized dramas of TV and movies.
 
As a therapist, I see my job as helping people clarify their own values, make decisions and act in ways that will lead to better achieving their own life needs and desires, feel better personally, and have improved relationships with others.
 
People come to therapy because they are having some kind of difficulty getting those needs and desires met--either because of a medical condition such as depression, anxiety or addiction, or situations in which their usual life strategies and coping skills are not currently working for them.
 
Therapy sometimes gets a “bad rap” as being a place where the therapist tells people what to do or imposes their own life values or “solutions” onto them.
 
Actually the reverse is true. Therapy is a relationship created for the sole purpose of helping people learn to have more control in their own life, function as effectively as possible, and to skillfully and confidently act from the standpoint of their own personal inner values and knowledge.
 
As a therapist, I honor your background, culture, relationships, spiritual beliefs and life values. I have no interest in changing those things—as they are the very qualities that make you “you.” My goal is to help you function in ways that let you more effectively draw on these same personal values to move through life.
 
It will be important to have an intake assessment. This is the place where I begin to know what your overall life is like, as well as identifying particular areas where you are having pain or difficulty. 
 
There’s no "one-size-fits-all" approach to dealing with anyone in therapy. This has led to confusion about what does happen. Each person has a unique situation and life story, so there’s not just one theory or approach that would apply to everyone. Rather, various approaches are more effective for particular needs.
 
People usually wonder how long psychotherapy will take. "When will I start to feel better?" is a question most people ask. There’s no exact answer to that. It depends upon many factors.
 
Some concerns are very clear and need only several sessions until the person feels able to manage on their own.  These are usually situations where someone has a relatively clearly defined problem that needs just some talking through for them to handle it with confidence.
 
Therapy lasts longer when there are multiple issues and concerns being addressed. Some conditions do take longer to lessen or resolve. But one part of the goals is always the same: to help a person achieve improved functioning in getting their needs met.
 
The life skills and strategies we commonly use for things are those we've developed over the course of our lives in response to many situations. If newer or more effective ways of handling things are needed, it might take time to let go of old, reflexive ways of dealing with things while learning to use new ones.
 
Because psychotherapy deals with people--each of whom has unique needs and abilities to get those needs met--it is impossible to say in advance how many sessions will be needed to make the changes you desire. But it is possible to talk early on about what concerns you want to deal with. In this way, you will be helping to shape how the therapy will proceed.