What is the difference between talking to a therapist vs. talking to my friends?
We are trained professionals. Unlike friends or family members who are unable to be objective, we are trained and are able to observe you without bias or judgment. We are able to listen to you attentively and can capture your blind spots so that you have a better understanding of your situation.
In other words, the therapist is like GPS with you as the driver. For instance, you can ask GPS to guide you when you get lost and GPS will tell you the location of where you are, but GPS does not decide your destination for you. GPS only provides the information that it knows, and it's up to the driver to decide what to do with the information given. In other words, you are the one who makes the final decision.
In therapy, confidentiality is a priority, because a lot of times we can get emotional when we express our feelings. Your friends may be able to relate to you, but they are related to you in a way that is different from the therapist. Your friends are not equipped with keeping things confidential and they may disclose your personal feelings or secrets to others without realizing it.
But in therapy, we create a safe and supportive environment for you to explore different emotions and will assist you in containing your emotions, so that you can engage in the therapeutic process completely. Therapy is confidential; whatever happens in therapy will stay in therapy, so you don't need to worry about other people knowing your business.
How long does therapy last? How many sessions should I get?
Since therapy is a very personal service, the length of therapy varies and it depends on an individual's situation. In general, there are two types of therapy:
Short-term therapy: People choose short-term therapy when they have a specific issue that they want to address and are clear about their goals. In this case, short-term therapy usually takes from a month (2-4 sessions) up to 6 months.
Long-term therapy: People who experience trauma or have more complicated issues usually seek long-term therapy. There are also some people who are interested in long-term therapy because they see therapy as a self-growth process and they would like to continue learning and growing. In this case, therapy plays a support role in their life journey, so there is no "expiration date" for therapy.
During treatment, we will check in with you regularly to clarify your goals and expectations, and make sure you get the support that you need. Of course you are welcome to share your thoughts about treatment with us to ensure the efficacy of therapy.
If you have never had any therapy experiences before or if you are interested in therapy but not sure about what you want to work on, we recommend that you start with 2 to 4 sessions. This way, you can get a feel for what therapy is like and figure out if this is something that you want to pursue.
The bottom line is that therapy treatment is very personalized and flexible. The idea is to have an open dialogue with your therapist and constantly evaluate what the best arrangement is for you!
What to expect on your first session?
We often called the first session as an "initial consultation". It is my practice to conduct an initial consultation that lasts up to 2 sessions.
During the initial consultation, several decisions will be made:
a. I will decide if I am able to provide services needed to treat your presenting problems, and you as a client will decide if you are comfortable working with me;
b. I will offer you an initial impression of what interventions will involve, and both of us will decide your therapy goals and how to best achieve them;
c. We will decide a mutually agreed upon time and the frequency of treatment.
It is true that finding the right therapist can be just like finding the right shoes: a time-consuming process. It is our hope that your therapist-search will stop after you visit us. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself after the initial consultation:
Do I feel comfortable talking to my therapist?
Do I feel as though I am being understood by my therapist?
Do I feel that my therapist and I are on the same page?
It's great if your answers are "yes" to the questions above! That means you can start to work on your goals. If you feel this is not what you are looking for, that is okay. Just let us know and we will refer you to other providers.
I am really interested in attending therapy, but I am on a tight budget. Do you offer sliding scale fees?
Certainly! Our goal is to bring changes to the client, so we are excited to work with someone who seeks self-growth and is motivated in the healing process. We want to make therapy affordable because we believe everyone can benefit from therapy. Hence, we offer a few spaces with sliding scale (reduced) fees. Please email if you are interested.