Have you ever gone to psychotherapy? If not, have you ever been tempted to go at least once? Well, before I started my degree in Professional Counseling which will allow me to be one of the faces you might see if you ever decide to give therapy a chance, I was also clueless about what the whole process was about.
After going to Couples therapy and Individual therapy, I felt that neither of them really helped me much. After many appointments and three different psychologists, I gave up on counseling as a client. A year and a half ago I started graduate school thinking I would understand psychotherapy if I was able to see it through the role of a professional counselor.
Since not everyone can be a Licensed Counselor, I hope this article can help you understand what therapy is and what you as a client should know about it:
1. Know your rights!
You need to understand what your rights are as a client as well as the rights of your counselor. Before therapy, the counselor needs to explain to you what in therapy is known as “Informed Consent”, this legal form has very important information such as:
- The professional Counselor’s qualifications as a therapist.
- Your rights and the counselor’s rights in privacy and confidentiality policies.
- Information about the cost of service, payment options and insurance information.
- Instructions of where to direct professional complains about your counselor.
If you go to therapy and you don’t receive an Informed Consent form before the very first session, do not go back!
2. The therapist theoretical approach
This might sound a little bit specific but let me tell you that you will not find counseling helpful if you do not like and agree with your therapist’s theoretical approach. In easy words, the way the counselor sees life, mental health and the techniques he uses to find solutions to your problems are the result of the psychological theory he follows.
Both the therapist and the client need to agree in the treatment plan that will be followed so to give you a broad idea of what this is all about, here is an example of two different theoretical approaches:
- Psychoanalysis – Based on Sigmund Freud’s psychotherapy approach where you will be spending hours talking about your childhood and learning how the super ego (your conscience) rules your life.
- Solution Focus Therapy – Short therapy approach focus on your present problems and on finding ways to resolve them and move on with your life.
None of these theories is better, is all about what you are looking to accomplish in therapy.
3. Check for references
Try to go to a therapist that someone can give you a good reference of, this will not only give you confidence and inside information about the professional but you can see if he has actually helped someone else.
4. And last but no less: Check the price!
I would recommend to shop around, even if most professional counselors have similar prices, you might be able to find more affordable options. The cheaper option might not be the best but also the most expensive one doesn’t guarantee you success.
Trust me! Psychotherapy is more than laying on a coach with a person in front of you writing on a piece of paper and replying to your comments: “Uh huh” or “How does that make you feel?”
I hope you can find therapy useful and fun, I believe therapy should be only about concentrating in your recovery; therefore, having the process cleared up since the beginning can give you the chance to start clean and clear.
I wish you all a mentally healthier life!