Dr. Tom McDonagh PSY.D of Good Therapy SF Discusses Commonly Asked Questions About Therapy
What is talk therapy?
Talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) is exactly what it sounds like; Talking to a licensed professional that is trained to help with a particular mental health issue. There are different types of talk therapy. Some commonly asked therapy questions examples include:
Psychoanalysis focuses on the conflict between the conscious and unconscious
Behavioral analysis focuses only on behavioral techniques to create change
Cognitive therapy focuses on changing unhelpful thoughts
Humanistic therapy focuses a belief in oneself and a concern for others
While some therapists adhere strictly to one type of discipline, most therapists are integrative. This means they use techniques from several different approaches. For example, a depressed adult might benefit more from a behavioral approach, while an anxious teenager could respond well to a cognitive approach. Ultimately, having an integrative style allows the therapist to “meet” a client where they are at psychologically.
Does coming to therapy mean there is something wrong with you?
This is a common question, and unfortunately it keeps some people from reaching out for assistance. In short, no. Coming to therapy does not mean there is something wrong with you.
Talking to a therapist only means you tried working through an issue on your own, and you are stuck. The job of a therapist is to help solve the problem. There are many other examples of professionals helping others solve a specific issue. Nutritionists, athletic trainers, and career coaches all fill a similar role.
Additionally, therapy emphasizes an individual’s strengths to help solve the issue. For example, a socially anxious person that is “too self aware” will be asked to use their insight, (in a non-biased way) to overcome their fear. This emphasis on what clients do well helps to reinforce the understanding there is nothing “wrong” with them.
Why do other people come to therapy? What if my reason isn’t good enough?
People come to therapy for a variety of reasons. At Good Therapy SF we see clients for a range of issues. These include:
Panic, daily worries, obsessional thinking, repetitive / tic behaviors, trauma, relationship problems, workplace stress, burnout, fear of public speaking, family issues, financial stress, depression…
There are many symptomatic reasons why clients reach out. Ultimately, people reach out because they recognize their issue is not changing, and they are unable to make progress on their own.
It is also common for clients to express concern that their reason for starting therapy is not “good enough.”
For example, a client once said they were worried about being told during the initial intake their issue “wasn’t important enough .. and I should leave.” When asked why they thought this way, the client said “I saw you listed trauma as something you work with, and I don’t have that.”
Ironically, people who are concerned about this are likely good candidates for therapy. These individuals tend to consider others too often (perhaps more than they consider themselves) which creates boundary issues. These types of problems and the resulting effects are exactly the type of challenges therapists are trained to solve.
A Final Word
For help with therapy and other anxiety issues reach out to Good Therapy SF.