Every time I meet new people and tell them what I do, they ask a slew of questions which made me realize how little people know about the therapy process. I realized that many people can be discouraged from the therapy process because they are unfamiliar with how it works. Here are a few answers I have to the most common questions I get about my profession:
Q: “Do you just give advice to people?”
A: I provide an environment to help people navigate their own problems and come up with the best solution to those problems for themselves.
Q: “Do you work with crazy people?”
A: Crazy is the most offensive word in the English language if you ask me. The people I work with deal a wide range of problems from grief of a loved one to someone with suicidal thoughts. In fact, many people I work with are not even diagnosed with a mental illness. Not a single person I work with is crazy. I prefer to describe them as a person with life difficulties or a person experiencing mental illness. For example, I do not describe someone as depressed, but someone experiencing depression.
In addition to individuals, I also work with families and couples who may be experiencing difficulties as well. Group therapy is also a common method I use to help foster interpersonal changes or education on a specific topic.
Q: “Do you just tell people good things about themselves to help them get better?”
A: I help people challenge the negative thoughts within themselves while simultaneously teaching them to improve their positive self-talk. None of the positive thoughts I provide can help a person improve their self-esteem, that must come from within the person themselves.
Q: “Do you just sit there and listen?’
A: While listening is a major part of the therapy process, it is not all I do. As I listen, I also offer careful interventions as appropriate for each client. These interventions may be chosen based on problem, age, and even readiness to change current functioning. As I therapist I also provide education about the problem or illness a person may be experiencing.
Q: “What’s the difference between talking to you versus my best friend?”
A: As a therapist, I hold both a bachelor’s and master’s degree that helps prepare me to face a wide range of problems for a wide range of people. Oftentimes your friend may not be able to handle the magnitude of the problems you face. Additionally, I hold a professional licensure from the state of Texas that holds me to strict legal and ethical requirements. Confidentiality is a key part of the therapy process; telling your friend your problems could risk your secrets leaking to other friends. Lastly, I am a member of a professional organization to continue my education to ensure I am familiar with the most current research and therapy methods.
Q: “Can I get therapy from you?”
A: Therapy exists within a professional context. The client and therapist discuss the limits of therapy, confidentiality, and the therapy process before beginning therapy. A therapist often conducts a psychosocial assessment in to help put the current life difficulties into context of the whole person.
I hope this clears up some questions you have about therapists and the therapy process. If you have any other questions, call out intake specialist to receive more information about if therapy is right for you.
Written by: Kristina Zufall, M.Ed., LPC-Intern