About Therapy

1. What are some different types of therapy? (For a full list of terms, please see our Glossary.)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) combines both cognitive and behavioral therapy to explore thinking patterns and negative behaviors that might accompany them. The therapy instructs how to change thinking patterns along with behavior to reach positive results.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Psychodynamic psychotherapy accepts that our personal histories - childhood experiences or other influences - are the basis for problems that persist into adulthood, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or other conflicts.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) suggests that our current problems stem from our previous interpersonal relationships. It's a structured, short-term therapy that focuses on behavioral patterns.

Family Therapy: Family therapy focuses on communication skills and other tools to treat more than one family member in session. The goal is to help the family improve interaction and resolve conflicts more easily. Also called Family Systems Therapy, Family Therapy suggests that one member's role affects the system as a whole.

Group Therapy: Group therapy involves a group of peers working on the same issue, such as anxiety, substance abuse, or eating disorders, for example. Group therapy sessions are led by a professional therapist and can be a valuable place to practice social skills in a safe environment and learn from peers with similar problems.

Couples Therapy (Marriage Counseling): Couples therapy usually treats two people in a committed relationship. Couples attend therapy to establish communicate techniques, understand better each other's perspectives, and learn tools from the therapist to overcome problems and challenges.

back to top

2. What can therapy do for me?

If you wanted to play piano, the best way to learn would be to hire a teacher adept at giving students the tools they need to play music. People hire physical trainers all the time to maximize physical fitness. If you are having difficulty with an area or areas of your life, it makes sense to seek assistance from someone who can give you the tools to cope with a situation. Even if there is nothing specific you want to work on, a desire to maximize your mental fitness is something to be admired and encouraged.

Myths about therapy:

  • Therapy is only for people who don't have friends to talk to. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally trained to help you find solutions to your problems in a variety of ways, from talk therapy to meditation to EMDR. That's where training augments simple life experience.
  • Going to therapy means that I'm mentally ill. Therapy is for anyone who has enough self-awareness to ask for additional help. Therapy is not only an outlet, but it also helps you learn tools and techniques to improve your personal relationships and quality of life.
  • The therapist will fix my problems. A personal trainer at the gym will tell you to exercise every day if you want to stay in shape. If you take piano lessons, your teacher will emphasize practice. The same goes with therapy. A therapist can't be with you at home or at the office or out with friends. That's where you come in.

back to top

3. What if I find it really difficult to talk about myself?

Therapists are trained to create a safe, comfortable environment that encourages honest discussion. Like most things, its gets easier with practice. Don't be discouraged if you aren't able to open up in the early sessions. Just like any other relationship, it can take some time to feel comfortable enough with someone to talk openly with them.

back to top

4. Is therapy going to brainwash me?

No. In fact, most therapists refrain from giving very specific advice, because they prefer to enable you to make personal decisions. If you ever feel that a therapist is trying to "convert" you or shove ideas on you, please do not hesitate to terminate the relationship. Remember that this relationship is designed to benefit you, and you should always feel comfortable.

back to top

5. Will everything be confidential? Are there circumstances in which the information I convey will not be confidential?

Any therapist you see is professionally bound to keep your discussions confidential. The only time they are obligated to break this confidentiality is if they believe you are an immediate threat to your own life or to someone else's, or if there is suspected abuse of a child or elderly person.

back to top

6. How can I afford therapy? Insurance? Sliding Scales?

About half of therapists listed on Therapick.com offer sliding scale payments for patients that cannot afford their typical fee. Many therapists accept insurance, in which case you will pay the same co-payment that you do when you visit your regular physician. Additionally, many insurance plans will offer partial reimbursement (can be up to 80% coverage) for out-of-network therapists, who represent the majority of our listed therapists.

back to top

7. I've been to therapists before and it's never helped? Why should I try again?

Finding the "right" therapist is essential to the success of treatment. While the search for a compatible therapist may be a frustrating one (much like dating!), you will eventually find a therapist with whom you are comfortable and can establish a successful therapeutic relationship.

back to top

8. How do I choose between behavioral and psychodynamic treatment? Are there certain issues for which one of these is more successful?

Descriptions of these two styles of treatment are listed above. There is no one answer to which treatment type will best suit a patient. Try to determine which method speaks to you and seek out that type of therapist. It may also be beneficial to seek consultations with both types of therapists in order to get a sense of which treatment style you prefer.

back to top

9. Does seeking couples therapy mean my marriage is too much work?

A relationship is the partnering of two individuals, with their unique quirks, weaknesses and strengths. No matter how compatible or in-sync a couple is, every relationship needs ongoing work as you navigate life in a partnership. Going to therapy is a sign that you are committed to making the relationship work and that you understand that as in many other life circumstances, sometimes you need a helping hand to see your way through challenging situations.

back to top

10. Does the type of training the therapist receives affect the quality of my treatment? For instance, what is the distinction in training between a marriage and family therapist, psychologist, social worker and psychiatrist?

Each type of therapist can work with individuals, couples, and family systems, and has had pertinent clinical training. The quality of your treatment will depend on how their professional experience matches your needs combined with the rapport you develop with the individual therapist.

Marriage and Family Therapist - Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) have a Master's or doctorate degree and more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience in marriage and family therapy.

Psychologist - Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and are licensed to practice psychology.

Social Worker - Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) have a Master's degree in social work (MSW) as well as additional clinical training in the field.

Psychiatrist - A psychiatrist is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health. As medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication when appropriate.

Licensed Professional Counselor - Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) are state-certified mental health professionals licensed to practice clinical psychotherapy, and have a Master's degree in counseling or a related field.

back to top

11. What level of experience should I search for?

It is important that a therapist has undergone training to become familiarized with and practiced at counseling scenarios, educated on various mental disorders, and have expressed the commitment to professionalism through their commitment to a pertinent education. That said, your connection to your therapist has proven to be the most important factor in the success of therapy.

back to top

12. Is it important that I find a therapist who specializes in the issues for which I am seeking help?

If you can find a specialist with whom you connect, there is certainly a benefit in seeing someone who has studied and had experience dealing with similar issues. This specialization may supply them with specific knowledge or tools that another therapist may not possess.

back to top

13. Is it okay to see an unlicensed therapist working under the supervision of a licensed therapist? Will it be beneficial enough?

Again, it primarily depends on your connection with the therapist. It is essential in this case to have a supervisor that can help oversee your therapist and the treatment they are providing to you, but if you like the therapist and feel that your meetings are beneficial, that is the most important factor.

back to top

14. Should I choose a therapist that is the same gender as me?

The most important criterion is to have a sense of connection and ease with the therapist. If you feel that a therapist of the same gender will be better able to understand your particular concerns, you should absolutely seek one out. This applies to age, religion or any factor that you feel is important in establishing a connection with your therapist. Never feel obligated to go back to a therapist with whom you are not comfortable. A therapist will understand that they are not a match for every patient that comes to see them.

back to top

15. Is location important?

It is often beneficial to choose a therapist with an office in close proximity to your home or office to increase the convenience of going to sessions. We all know that life can get busy, but it is important to meet with the therapist regularly to obtain the greatest benefit from therapy. Maximizing the convenience of the appointment will help ensure that your treatment stays on track.

back to top

16. Why would seeing someone for only one hour per week be effective? Is it necessary to see the therapist more frequently?

That is likely something you would work out with your therapist depending on the goals you establish for the therapeutic relationship. Think about physical workouts again. It's more beneficial to your health to exercise for an hour a week than not to exercise at all. Additionally, there are therapists who will give you "homework" so that your work with them will extend beyond the time you spend in their office.

back to top

17. How do I know whether therapy is working?

"Growth and change is difficult for everyone, and you won't be a new person overnight. Look for long-term patterns in growth and change. Your overall mood might be improving, for example. You may feel more connected to family and friends. A crisis that might have overwhelmed you in the past you handle with much less stress. Don't be frustrated with temporary setbacks. It can be challenging to stretch yourself and break old, entrenched patterns."


More Questions? Email us! Also, check out our Glossary.