What is it?

It’s sitting in a room for about an hour at a time and in regularly scheduled sessions with a therapist who helps you explore and clarify your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Isn’t psychotherapy only for crazy people and people with real problems?

You’ve seen too many movies. Psychotherapy is for regular people.  If you happen to be crazy and have real problems it’s for you, too.

Will a therapist make me take medication?

No therapist can force you to take medication. And most of us these days are not licensed to prescribe drugs. In general, it’s psychiatrists or nurse practitioners – not therapists-  who handle medication. A therapist might recommend that you consult with a psychiatrist.  But the decision is yours.

How do I know a therapist won’t tell my family that I’m in therapy?

It’s against the professional code of ethics and against the law for a therapist to tell any other person that an adult is in therapy.

The only exceptions to that rule are:  if someone is in immediate physical danger, is an immediate danger to others, or if the therapist has permission from the client.

If you are a minor, the lines of confidentiality are a bit fuzzier.  Obviously if your parents or guardians arrange for it, they will know you’re in it.  Still, many therapists follow the same guidelines stated above when it comes to telling parents what goes on in their kids’ therapy sessions.

Anyone can ask about the rules of confidentiality in the first session. If you’re not comfortable with the answer, discuss this issue further with the therapist.

I know people who have been in therapy for years, and they don’t seem to feel any better or to have changed at all. Why not?

There are many kinds of therapies and a range of therapists and clients.  Different therapist/client pairs work differently together and make progress differently.  As in any profession, some therapists are great at what they do, while others are not. So it’s difficult to generalize an answer.  But once you begin, you can stop at any time, and it’s worth trying.

Do your clients ever actually complete therapy with you and  if so, do they feel better about their lives when they leave?

Yes and yes…most of the time.

How much does therapy cost?

Free to several hundred dollars a session, depending on where you live and who you choose to work with.  Insurance sometimes covers some of the cost.

How can I find out more about therapy options close to where I live?

Go to on line or actual yellow pages and look up psychotherapist.  Also look up psychotherapy institute, counseling center, and mental health clinic.  You will find many places and names to call. You can also contact your state social work and psychological associations. The EMDRIA website maintains a list of therapists as well. If you are affiliated with a school, find out if the school has mental health services or counseling or if it can refer you to individual therapists or to clinics. Priests, rabbis, ministers, and other clergy may also keep a referral list. Ask your doctor also: physicians often do the same. Keep a list of your questions in front of you when you make your first phone calls.

You mention in your bio that you are an approved consultant for EMDR. What is that?

EMDR is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach. It was originally designed to eliminate symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and subsequently proven effective with anxiety, depression, and other kinds of stress for which people seek help.  EMDR is an eight phase process easily integrated with traditional talk therapy.

Where can I read more about EMDR?

The EMDR bible is EMDR: The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Treatment for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma, by Francine Shapiro and Margot Silk Forest. Two shorter and less technical reads are Transforming Trauma: EMDR by Laurel Parnell and Small Wonders: Healing Childhood Trauma with EMDR, by Joan Lovett, M.D.

You can read a fictionalized experience of it in my fourth novel, Wrecked.

www.emdria.org is my go to website for EMDR.