Is Therapy For Me?
If you’ve found yourself on this page, the answer is most likely yes. People seek therapy for a variety of issues and needs. Here are some common questions we hear when people are considering therapy:
I’ve never been to therapy before…what do they do?
The answer depends on what kind of therapist you meet with and what you’re bringing in to discuss. Here are a few common reasons people start therapy:
- Exploration of patterns, behaviors, or situations you would like to change
- Support with a difficult transition, such as the loss of a family member, starting a new job, or moving back home
- Learning coping skills and techniques to support you with life’s difficulties or a mental health issue you experience.
- Support with a specific issue, such as being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult or struggling with your gender identity.
Often, the process of therapy covers more than one of these areas. You might begin addressing one issue, and then another arises. A good therapist will be able to adapt with you to meet changing needs.
What is the difference between a psychotherapist, a professional counselor, a social worker, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist?
This is a great question because some of these terms are used interchangeably. Here is a quick breakdown:
The term psychotherapist can apply to a professional counselor, social worker, or psychologist in many contexts.
Professional Counselors are licensed clinicians trained in helping clients identify and meet their goals. Professional Counseling education focuses on creating a strong therapeutic alliance with the client and using specific interventions to support the client’s process.
Social Workers are also licensed clinicians trained in helping clients identify and meet their goals. Social Work education focuses on promoting individual and social change through a community model, but many social work programs incorporate counseling interventions into their training.
Psychologists have an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D or PsyD as well as a license. Otherwise, their work is similar to that of social workers and professional counselors. With the exception of a few states (Maryland is not one of them), psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Psychologists are often trained to administer specific mental health evaluations and interpret the results for you.
Psychiatrists have a medical degree in addition to a specialization in Psychiatry. They are the only people on this list who can prescribe medication. Psychiatrists are also trained to evaluate clients and sometimes use therapeutic techniques in their sessions.
Do I have to be in a crisis to start therapy?
Nope! In fact, beginning therapy when things are going reasonably well can build trust with your therapist and they can support you if or when crises arise. If you are willing to do inner work, there is a therapist out there willing to support you with it.
I want to see a therapist, but I don’t know what my goals would be…
A good therapist will be able to help you identify goals and provide options for how to address them in working together. Sometimes goals become more clear as you begin to talk about what’s going on in your life.
I already see a psychiatrist, why go to therapy as well?
Research suggests that medication in addition to therapy often leads to better outcomes. Usually, a therapist meets with you more frequently than a psychiatrist and has more time to work on building skills. You can even request a therapist and psychiatrist collaborate to give you more integrated care.
It won’t take that long for a therapist to fix me, right?
Trick question! Through the process of therapy, you are the one doing the work. A therapist can guide, encourage, and support, but they can’t make you change if you aren’t ready. There is really no way to determine how long it will take for things to change, but length of treatment is something you can discuss during a phone consultation or initial session.
I saw a meme on social media (Tiktok, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that sounded like me. Is that worth checking out?
Social media can be a treasure trove of mental health resources, but it is not a licensed clinician. If you’d like to explore something you saw on a social media platform, you can absolutely bring it to your session to discuss. Often, this can lead to deeper conversations and give a therapist important context about your life.
I’m worried a therapist won’t understand me or what I’m going through. Are they going to judge me?
Most therapists enter the field because mental health has touched their life in some way. Our job is to support you in your process of healing, not to pass judgement.
Does going to therapy mean I’m crazy or not a good [fill in the blank]?
Going to therapy because you struggle with parenting doesn’t make you a bad parent. Going to therapy because you struggle with your own parents doesn’t mean you’re a bad child. Going to couples therapy does not mean you’re a bad partner or your relationship is doomed to fail. In short, going to therapy does not make you any less of any important identity you hold.