Therapy is a partnership, a collaboration between client and therapist. It is rather like having a friend who is on your side and tries to see things through your eyes. Effective therapy requires a good match between therapist and client because relationship factors are important catalysts for personal growth. It is sensible to talk to several potential therapists on the phone before making your first appointment. Go with your gut instinct as to whom you might feel comfortable with, and then make sure they have the proper credentials.
Lambert and Bergin (1994) researched the factors that made therapy effective regardless of the therapist's approach or specific treatment modality. They found three factors common to good psychotherapy:
Support factors: reassurance, structure, validation, mirroring Learning factors: advice, corrective emotional experience, feedback, insight Action or behavioral factors: mastery, facing fears, taking risks, active practice, rehearsal of new skills
In other words, the research suggests that you may not benefit from a well-respected technique if you do not feel supported, don't or can't learn anything from the session, and don't or can't practice something new. Factors that may undermine the potential benefits of therapy include: a therapy method mismatched to your information processing style, confusion as to goals and direction; anxiety states or body symptoms that absorb all your energy trying to control them; not feeling personally comfortable with the therapist; not having advice spelled out; being in a situational crisis. If you are affected by any of these, feel free to raise the issue so that a mutually agreeable plan can be made.
The past versus the present
We deal with the past only to the extent it helps sort out some current dilemma or problem. Sometimes a current difficulty has its roots in past events, especially an earlier trauma that keeps replaying in your life. Or perhaps you have a relationship style based in patterns you subconsciously absorbed while growing up. To help you reconfigure your current responses, we bring something from these formative experiences into your immediate awareness, examine its utility or necessity, and then experiment with different alternatives until your instincts tell you which alternative feels more satisfying. My goal is not to have you re-experience the past all over again, but to use just enough of it so that you can find those aspects you want to keep, and those that do not serve you well. Very often I can work on a present-day issue without knowing all the details from your past.
This kind of experiential therapy often leads to periods of flux and change in your thoughts and feelings. You may start to experiment with response modes that seem out-of-character for you. Don't make any big decisions while you are in therapy. Give yourself time and space to just let things settle. It's your potential coming to the fore.
to be treated with respect
to get a clear explanation of the services you will receive
to get an estimate of the number of sessions required to meet your goals
to receive a competent and professional service
to have additional costs explained before the service is given
to see your clinical file
to have your objections heard
to be referred to someone else if therapy is not helping
New Depression Therapy
Put a little spring in your step!
You may have heard of cognitive-behavioural therapy which is a well-respected treatment for depression. It is focused on your belief systems and the way these anticipatory cognitions shape your behaviour and interpretations. It requires a degree of intellectual effort in therapy to separate out the different psychological elements so you can begin to reconsider them. The problem with this approach, however, is that the symptoms of depression often include poor concentration, difficulty with sequential reasoning, and cloudy memory. So if you are depressed, you may not be in good shape for the mental effort required by this treatment. As an alternative, I have developed a body-based therapy in which we treat the symptoms of depression using powerfully positive resources you may not be aware you have. The heavy, sinking feeling in your core, which is translated into the word "depressed," is counterbalanced by mental imagery from your life, which brings a different set of physiological responses. Positive biofeedback from emotionally resonant experiences thus chips away at how depression plays out in your body. Over time, your thoughts start to catch up and a turning point is eventually reached in which proactive solutions and optimism replace hopelessness and helplessness.
This is an experimental treatment and has not been subject to controlled research. It evolved from my extension of EMDR into positive psychology applications. I discovered that the protocol I called "Put Your Best Foot Forward", also outlined in this website, was remarkable beneficial for many of my depressed clients. If you are interested in trying a newer therapy for depression, call and ask me more, or email me (See Contact Info page).
The single most important thing you can do for your health, with supporting research, is outlined in this YouTube video by Dr. Mike Evans:
The evidentiary limits of therapy
Matters discussed in therapy are rarely a sufficient basis for issues before the court. This is because the work is highly subjective, guided by your slant on things and no one else's. I do not call outside people to check up on what you tell me. I am ethically unable to give a professional opinion about people I have not met for the purpose of a legal adjudication, even if you tell me all about them. Psychologists do provide assessments and opinions to assist the court in legal proceedings, but this is a very different mandate from therapy and has strict professional rules and procedures. If you hope to obtain support for your legal matter by seeing a therapist, tell them this before you start.