What Is Therapy?
Therapy, also called psychotherapy or counseling, is the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, and/or somatic responses (sensations in the body). Beginning therapy can be a big step toward being the healthiest version of yourself and living the best life possible—no matter what challenges you may be facing. Through therapy, you can change self-destructive behaviors and habits, resolve painful feelings, improve your relationships, and more.
Though no one can tell you exactly what your therapy process will be like, in all modes of therapy you will establish goals for your therapy and determine the steps you will take to get there. Whether in individual, group, or family therapy, your relationship with your therapist is a confidential one and focuses not only on the content of what you talk about, but also the process. The therapeutic process--how you share your feelings and experiences--is considered to be just as important as the specific issues or concerns you share in therapy. Once you start therapy, it may help to know and recognize elements of healthy therapy as well as warning signs of questionable therapy.
On the whole, you can expect that your therapist will be someone who supports you, listens attentively, models a healthy and positive relationship experience, gives you appropriate feedback, and follows ethical guidelines. Good therapy should be tailored to you and your experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions about Counseling and Therapy
- How do I choose a counselor or therapist?
- What exactly does therapy accomplish?
- I'm nervous about starting therapy; is that normal?
- What will happen in my first therapy session?
- How much does therapy cost?
- How long does therapy last?
- What do I do if I don’t like my therapist when I meet him or her?
- Does the sex or gender of my therapist matter?
- Will I have to talk about my feelings in therapy?
- Can a therapist prescribe psychotropic medication?
- Can my therapist tell other people about our sessions?
- Can other people come with me to my therapy sessions?
- I’m under the age of 18; does my parent have to give permission for me to go to therapy?
- What is the difference between an intern and a fully-licensed therapist?
- Can therapy affect the brain?
Common Questions about Couples Counseling
- How do I get my partner to go to couples therapy with me?
- How much does couples therapy cost?
- Does insurance cover couples therapy?
- What happens if we start fighting in front of our therapist during couples therapy?
- Will our therapist break us up?
- My partner and I are not married. Can we still go to couples therapy?
- The problems in our relationship are mostly my partner’s fault; why do I need to participate in couples therapy?
- Will we have to talk about sex during couples therapy?
- Can what my partner and I talk about in couples therapy be brought up in court if we get divorced?
- If I tell a couples therapist a secret (like my affair), will they tell my partner?
- Can I talk to our couples therapist without my partner present?
- Can I go to couples therapy for a same-sex relationship?
- Is a couples therapist the same as a sex therapist?
Family Therapy Questions and Answers
- What is the purpose of family therapy?
- What will happen during our first family therapy session?
- There is only one person in our family causing problems; why do we all need to go to therapy?
- Which members of the family should participate in family therapy?
- How long does family therapy take?
- What will happen if we start fighting in front of our therapist during family therapy?
You are not alone in facing life’s problems; many people are experiencing similar pains, difficulties, and worries, and many people are getting help and growing through therapy. In fact, there are countless reasons why people seek the support of a counselor. Don’t let common myths or misconceptions about therapy stop you from finding help. The idea that people who go to therapy are “crazy” or “damaged” is false. Mental health concerns affect millions of people throughout the world and help is available. You can find a therapist who is right for you.
Last Update: 08-07-2015