What to expect when you're beginning therapy.

What to expect when you’re beginning therapy

By Dr. Jaclyn Polsky

Today, psychotherapy is as commonplace and mainstream as visiting your internist for aches and pains. For some however, the very idea of being “in therapy,” whether short-term or ongoing, is intimidating simply because they’re not familiar with the process, don’t know what to expect, and are not even sure whether or not they need it. If you find yourself in any of those categories, I thought it might be helpful to share answers to the questions I am most frequently asked:

Q: I’ve never seen a therapist before. What can I expect in my first session?
A: Your initial meeting will likely consist of a casual, relaxed conversation about your decision to speak to a therapist. You will discuss the nature, history and specifics of your concerns, the solutions you have attempted on your own and your therapeutic goals. The meeting will last approximately one hour, and you will have an opportunity to have your questions addressed as well.

Q: Is therapy confidential?
A: With certain exceptions (which will be discussed during your initial meeting), your sessions are held in strict confidence. If you need your therapist to speak with another person or if anyone asks questions about you, you must provide written consent for such discussions. Otherwise, your information will not be shared.

Q: Is medication a substitute for therapy?
A: Long-term solutions to mental and emotional problems cannot be achieved solely with medication. Most often, medication is used in conjunction with therapy. The medication alleviates the negative effects and behavior brought on by the problems while therapy addresses the causes, which, when addressed and discussed, can be dealt with accordingly.

Q: How long will I be in therapy for?
A: The answer depends on a variety of factors. The nature of your concern, your time commitments, your response to the sessions and the approaches utilized typically dictate the length of therapy. Some people seek relief from very specific symptoms of temporary problems requiring a limited number of sessions. At the same time, some need a more thorough understanding of chronic problems, the reasons they’re experiencing negative responses and how best to address them.

Dr. Jaclyn Polsky is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in depression, anxiety, workplace stress, behavior modification, anger management and relationship issues serving clients in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Office: 1421 SE 4th Avenue, Suite B, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954-909-PSYD (7793). http://soflapsych.com/