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Posted by Carol on September 03, 2004 at 15:39:49

In Reply to: A survey? posted by curious on September 02, 2004 at 11:59:17:

Achiek's experience is right on, imo. If you decide to try therapy, give yourself an opportunity to shop around. A whole lot depends on the quality of the relationship you develop with the therapist, so if you're not comfortable or can't communicate, find someone who is a better fit.

I personally believe that people have the answers to their problems within themselves, and that all a good therapist really does is help the client sort through the clutter & confusion and find those answers. A good therapist can help you:

1) Gain insight into how your lived experience, beliefs, attitudes, and values influence the way you cope with problems of living;
2) Develop a broader range of problem-solving & communication skills that will help you respond more effectively to life's challenges and greater mastery over your current social environment;
3) Gain knowledge about your emotional needs so that you to make better personal choices for yourself;
4) Help you determine whether or not you would benefit from medication; help you understand the benefits & costs of medication;
5) Help you identify & sort through religious issues and/or refer you to a trained spiritual counselor who will support & affirm you faith as you sort things out.

As far as the cost thing goes, that can be controlled by asking your therapist to provide you with a treatment plan. This isn't something you'll want to do on the first or second visit, but you should be aware that you have a right to set your own treatment goals in collaboration with the therapist.

Sometimes people have a bad experience because they think they're doing therapy for something like relationship conflict, and the next thing they know, they're being asked to dig up painful trauma memories. If you have a history of abuse, it's likely to create issues in your current relationships--so the two things often are connected. However, it's possible to help a person make healthier relationship choices without putting that person through full-blown trauma therapy where they're asked to recall very painful history. When it comes to trauma therapy, YOU get to decide when and if it's time to go there--NOT the therapist.

If you have a treatment plan, it's clear what issues you're working on, what you're expected to do as part of the therapeutic process, and how both you & the therapist will know when you've improved enough to move on with your life.