Sarah A. Roe, LCSW - The Process
Therapy can be about a lot of things. It can be about finding ways to cope with overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety, or it can be about understanding why we make the same old bad choices over and over again. It is always about increasing our options and having the ability, desire and will to make and carry out better decisions.
I like to start with new clients by scheduling regular weekly sessions. That gives us an opportunity to build our relationship and develop the trust that is necessary to be able to do the complex work of therapy.
I tend to look at things from a relational perspective—our relationship with our partner, our children, our parents and siblings, our friends, our coworkers. Most importantly, ourselves.
We learn how to be in relationships within our family of origin, so I want to hear your story of growing up. Sometimes we duplicate those early relationships without being aware of it. Raising awareness is an important part of therapy because it usually precedes making better choices. Looking at current relationships, especially the therapeutic relationship, will help you to differentiate between what is working well and is healthy for you and what you need and want to change.
To that end, self-disclosure is essential in therapy. Discussing honestly your dreams, fantasies, feelings, thoughts. Revealing things about yourself that are uncomfortable so that we can look at them and understand them and loosen their grip on your life and happiness. It is important too that the process continue outside of the therapy session. By that I mean thinking about our sessions and bringing those thoughts back with you, attending to your dreams and your spontaneous thoughts and bringing those with you, or following through on suggestions to read a book or article or see a movie that is somehow pertinent. The success of your therapy depends on your willingness and commitment to devote sufficient time and energy to make the changes that will bring about improvement in your life.
Confidentiality in therapy is paramount. I cannot disclose anything you say to me, in fact, not even that you’re my client, without your permission. The only exception to this is if I fear that you will harm yourself or someone else.
Sometimes your therapy will include conjoint therapy, such as seeing a psychiatrist for medication; couples or family therapy, if you are seeing me for individual therapy; or individual therapy, if your couples therapist has referred you here. In that case I will ask that all of the professionals that are involved with your treatment have your permission to talk to one another so that your therapy can be coordinated.
I’ve talked a lot about insight and awareness as part of the therapeutic process, but learning to do things differently is what ultimately matters. Taking what you learn here and applying it to other areas of your life is the real reason to engage in therapy.
As you make changes and feel your confidence building, you may want to decrease the frequency of your therapy sessions. Then there will come a time when you feel you’ve completed your work in therapy for now. We’ll plan your exit and how you can maintain all of the changes you’ve made.
Should you find that there is something else you want to work on or that you just want a minor tune-up, the door is always open.