What is the difference between a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication. Psychotherapist are doctors who specialize in understanding mental health. They provide counseling and do not prescribe medication.
Should I take medication or go into psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you, and in some cases a combination of both medication and therapy is the right course of action.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
On the contrary. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason isn’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, we’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others knowing your business. Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. We tailor our therapeutic approach to your specific needs. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session.
How long will it take?
Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular weekly sessions initially, and then space them out as you see progress.
If I commit to therapy, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of therapy?
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, if you are receptive to homework, we can suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your progress – such as practicing relaxation skills, journaling on a specific topic, reading a pertinent book, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Dr. Stanford is an out-of-network provider for all major insurance companies. Out-of-network benefits vary according to your carrier and plan. To determine what your out-of-network mental health coverage is through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
- Do I have mental health insurance benefits?
- Does my plan cover couples therapy?
- How many individual and couples sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your physician, attorney, a separate mental health professional), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is in imminent danger of harming him/herself or someone else.