How do I choose a therapist?
Even more important than a therapist’s theoretical orientation is your compatibility with your therapist. The first time you speak with a prospective therapist, notice how you feel with him or her.
Are you comfortable talking with her? Does it feel like he’s paying attention and understands you? When you ask questions, do you get the information you’re looking for?
Getting the name of a therapist from a friend, family member, your doctor or clergyperson is a very good way to find someone you’ll work well with.
You may also want to look at the section on Finding a Therapist on the Psychology Today website. This resource gives you information on therapists in your city or region. You can get a sense of how this person works and find out about their credentials and specializations.
What is a therapy session like?
When I see individuals or couples for therapy, we often begin with a conversation about a current problem or a difficult recent event. I take a conversational approach where we each ask questions and give our perspectives.
As we talk, the conflicts and feelings below the surface become clear, as well as the thoughts and patterns that are maintaining the problem. We collaborate together on how finding new possibilities for working with the difficulty.
Depending on the personality and preferences of the person I’m working with, we may focus on the possibilities for change opened up by new insights about the problem, strategies for solving a problem, using mindfulness skills to develop a new relationship with the problem. We often use any and all of these approaches.
How long will my therapy last?
This largely depends on what you want. If you are looking for a tool kit of skills and perspectives to apply to many problems you will encounter in life, a relatively short period of therapy may help you immensely.
If your difficulties are long-standing or involve complicated life circumstances, you may decide you’ll benefit more from seeing a therapist for a year or more.
Theoretical orientation is also important. What are some of the most common methods therapists use?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on how a person’s thoughts and actions are creating and maintaining difficulties. This therapy teaches how to overcome problems through identifying and changing these thoughts and actions.
Dialectical behavior therapy was originally developed to help people learn to manage strong feelings that were leading to self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. Therapists have learned that it is very helpful for less serious problems as well.
Eclectic therapy draws from more than one theoretical orientation to provide a person with a variety of tools. You might say that an eclectic therapist’s motto is “do what works.”
Interpersonal therapy intervenes in a person’s difficulties via their relationships and patterns of interacting.
Mindfulness therapy is practiced by therapists of any theoretical orientation. It teaches the use of mindfulness skills and practices to find relief from suffering.
Psychodynamic therapy helps a person feel better by coming to understand how the conflicts, fears, and sadnesses below the surface of their everyday thinking are creating problems.This insight leads to new ways of thinking and acting.
Solution-focused therapy creates a plan of action to help a person positively impact a specific difficulty. This type of therapy generally is completed in a few sessions, and is especially helpful for problems that have developed recently.
What are the differences between clinical nurse specialists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists?
Excellent therapists can have any of these credentials. They all need to have graduate training to practice therapy. They also must maintain licensure and obtain ongoing education in their field.
Clinical nurse specialists are able to both practice therapy of any theoretical orientation and prescribe medication under a psychiatrist’s supervision.
Clinical social workers practice therapy with an emphasis on a person’s strengths and resources. They may utilize any theoretical orientation.
Professional counselors focus therapy on collaborative problem-solving between the therapist and the client.
Psychiatrists primarily prescribe medication useful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and mental illness. As insurances no longer reimburse them for practicing therapy, they now only do so for clients who pay privately.
Psychologists may have either a PhD or a masters degree; a masters level psychologist works under the supervision of a PhD psychologist. Their training emphasizes a foundation in research, and they may practice any theoretical orientation.
I’m interested in learning how to meditate. How do I get started?
If you would like to learn more about practicing meditation and mindfulness and live in or near Washtenaw County, visit the Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness website for a listing of local classes and events. If you live elsewhere and can’t find a local group, do an internet search for online support.
Please also click on the Meditation section at the top of this page for some written instructions on how to meditate.