Common Questions People Ask About Counseling & Therapy

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What is Psychotherapy?

There are many reasons people seek out a psychotherapist. If you’ve never been in therapy before then the entire process may seem mysterious to you. You needn’t worry. Counseling is a relationship you enter into with a trained counselor for the express purpose of solving a problem or changing something about your life that isn’t working for you.

How is Life Coaching different then Psychotherapy?

Life Coaching is a subset of psychotherapy that focuses on current world issues and looking at practical and effective ways to help you be more successful. Common reasons to go to coaching include issues related to being more successful in your career or being more successful in the area of dating and relationships. Psychotherapy on the other hand also looks at mental health issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, child abuse, PTSD, and Bipolar disorder. In psychotherapy, while we don’t focus exclusively on your past, we may discuss how earlier events are still effecting you in today’s world. Coaching attempts to deal only with things in the present. At Your Denver Counseling both Psychotherapy and Coaching are used to help you.

What types of psychotherapy counseling work the best?

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Research has identified a few types of therapy that are shown to work as well or better than medication in many trials. These include: cognitive therapy, mindfulness therapy, interpersonal therapy, family therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Each one of these counseling methods are shown to be about as effective as drugs for reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. At Your Denver Counseling we use all of these research proven techniques.

What about medication instead of psychotherapy?

As mentioned in the previous question, research shows that for mild to medium depression or anxiety, psychotherapy is frequently as or more effective than medication and has less side effects! At the same time for some people, medication is a necessary part of being successful with treating anxiety or depression. It’s an important conversation to have with your therapist and your doctor.

How do I choose a therapist for counseling?

Research again shows that the relationship between therapist and client is the single most important factor in predicting successful outcome to mental health counseling. The qualities to look for in a provider is:

  1. They have appropriate training, credentials and hopefully years of experience doing this type of work.

  2. At the first meeting they provide you with a statement of “Informed Consent” which includes what you can expect and how therapy is confidential with some exceptions.

  3. After meeting the counselor, you feel that the therapist is non-judgmental, accepting of you, attentive, empathetic and kind.

  4. Once you’ve gotten to know the therapist, you feel safe enough to trust the therapist and to be completely honest about your situation, and willing to seriously consider the therapists suggestions.

  5. If you disagree with the therapist, you can say so and the counselor will listen, consider and respect your point of view, and talk through it until you are satisfied.

  6. If the therapist makes a mistake he or she is able to admit it.

  7. Some counselors are too nice and avoid confronting a clients harmful behavior. There are times a counselor will need to confront you about self-destructive behavior that you are not changing. If a therapist kindly points out something to you that you’ve been avoiding don’t immediately assume the therapist is not a good therapist.

  8. Over time you see noticeable improvement in your life.

How long do I need to stay in therapy?

That is different for every person and every situation. There is no easy answer. It depends on the reason you are coming in, how long the problem has been with you, if it’s combined with other personal challenges and the other factors in your life. For example, if your job is good and your relationship is good but you are struggling with anxiety, then your time in therapy might be quite short. However, if you are stressed out, your job sucks, and your relationship is falling apart, then it’s very likely that your time in counseling with be longer.

My relationship’s troubled. Should I go to Couples Counseling?

Couples counseling provides a safe place for both of you to talk about what’s not working in the relationship, with a mediator who can make sure both parties are understood. Most problems in relationship are not really about the details you are fighting about. The money fights, the fights over chores, and all the other minutia of being in a relationship are symbolic of something deeper. In couples counseling, we can get to the deeper meaning. Often this has something to do with not feeling connected. When a couple is experiencing an intimate disconnect, they often start fighting. In couples therapy, several things can happen:

  1. You can air your grievances with each other safely

  2. You can then explore what went wrong

  3. You can get to this deeper level of hurt and heal it.

  4. You can learn new and healthier ways to relate.

Confidentiality and Psychotherapy Counseling

Psychotherapy is confidential. Your therapist is required by law to keep what you tell him or her private. You should get an “Informed Consent” statement at your first meeting. Be sure to ask any questions and get your concerns satisfied. There are some legal exceptions to confidentiality and your counselor can explain them to you. They include:

  1. Reporting abuse of minors

  2. You being an imminent danger to yourself or others

  3. You authorizing release of records to other providers or legal representatives

To summarize, it’s about the relationship between therapist and client. Be sure your therapist is qualified and that you can have that kind of meaningful constructive relationship with the counselor. Be sure the psychotherapist answers all of your questions and addresses your concerns.


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