There are many benefits to participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, identity issues, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and trauma. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the concerns 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 your values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communication and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to resolve problems in your family, relationship, or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
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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 little more support, 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.
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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 therapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, coming out, 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 trauma. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and equip one 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 therapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
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What is Therapy like?
Since each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to process issues happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issues, 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 ("therapy homework") - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, doing something creative, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking therapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives, and take responsibility for their lives.
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What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems (and the pain they cause) is not solely 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 and/or psychiatrist you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
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Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Lori Payne Benker, LPC-S is a provider for several health insurance companies (Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare).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 and what is my copay and/or deductible?
- 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?
Confidentiality is foundational to a an effective relationship 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, psychiatrist, etc.), 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, disabled adults, and elders requires therapists to report to the authorities, including Child Protective Services 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 threatened to harm another person.
* If a judge requires information from your therapist about you via subpoena.
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