How does therapy work?

Therapy can help you with both new and unexpected life stressors, such as divorce, loss or illness, and with more long standing chronic concerns, such as difficult relationships, depression and anxiety. Being in a warm therapeutic relationship allows you the freedom to safely look at your life circumstances, problems you might be having with relationships, and struggles you might have with your mood. With the support of your therapist you can gain insight and understanding into how and why you react to life’s challenges in certain ways and this allows you to begin to make conscious changes in how you live your life, moving you toward a healthier and happier future.

What can I expect in my first therapy session?

The first therapy session provides an opportunity for you and your therapist to get to know each other and decide if you are a good fit for each other. It is often a time for the therapist to ask you questions about what has brought you in for treatment, and for information about your personal life, background, and overall well being. This is also a good time for you to ask any questions you might have about therapy and the therapist, and to express any concerns you might have. Often payment and insurance details are discussed during the first session and any necessary paperwork is completed.

How do I know if I have found the right therapist for me?

Research often shows that the most important factor in effective therapy is the therapeutic relationship. It is important to feel comfortable with your therapist and be able to ask questions and express any concerns you might have. Ask your therapist about his or her background and experience in treating your particular issues.

How often will I need to come for therapy?

Usually therapy is carried out on a weekly basis and each session is 45 minutes. Sometimes when a person is in crisis or experiencing a particularly challenging time in their life, they will come in for more frequent visits, and this is discussed with the patient and therapist. Therapy can be short-term and focused on a particular issue, or it can be more long-term, allowing for an exploration of more complex and deeper seated concerns that can lead to more personal growth and deeper change.

Why go to therapy when I can take medication?

Many people are confused by the choices of treatment now available for mental health. There are many medications that can effectively treat the symptoms of a number of conditions including depression and anxiety. However, they often have side effects that some people find intolerable, particularly weight gain and loss of libido. Additionally, while medications can provide some symptom relief they do not provide the opportunity to gain insight into underlying causes of problems. This deeper understanding brought about by therapy can lead to more long lasting change and allow you to make healthier conscious choices in how you live your life. Indeed research has repeatedly shown that even when medication is prescribed it is most effective in conjunction with therapy.

Will I always leave my therapy sessions feeling better?

While the ultimate goal of treatment is for you to feel better and lead a more satisfying life, the process is not always comfortable. Some sessions might be emotionally difficult, leaving you upset, confused or even tired, as you process what has been discussed and the feelings that may have come up for you in the session. Other sessions might provide with you a sense of relief, as you discover something new about yourself or feel you have been able to unburden yourself of something you have been carrying with you for a long time.

How will I know when my treatment is over?

At the beginning of treatment you and your therapist will discuss both your goals for treatment and how the therapist thinks she can be of help. Throughout treatment we will review your change and progress and together decide when we feel your treatment is over. If at any time you have thoughts or concerns about your therapy, you can address them with your therapist.

Is everything I tell my therapist confidential?

While almost everything you tell your therapist is confidential, there are some legal exceptions. These are as follows:

  • Child Abuse: If I have reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subject to abuse, I must report this immediately to the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services.
  • Adult and Domestic Abuse: If I reasonably believe that a vulnerable adult is the subject of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, I may report the information to the county adult protective services provider.
  • Health Oversight: If the New Jersey State Board of Psychological Examiners issues a subpoena, I may be compelled to testify before the Board and produce your relevant records and papers.
  • Judicial or Administrative Proceedings: If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about the professional services that I have provided you and/or the records thereof, such information is privileged under state law, and I must not release this information without written authorization from you or your legally appointed representative, or a court order. This privilege does not apply when you are being evaluated for a third party or where the evaluation is court ordered. I must inform you in advance if this is the case.
  • Serious Threat to Health or Safety: If you communicate to me a threat of imminent serious physical violence against a readily identifiable victim or yourself and I believe you intend to carry out that threat, I must take steps to warn and protect. I also must take such steps if I believe you intend to carry out such violence, even if you have not made a specific verbal threat. The steps I take to warn and protect may include arranging for you to be admitted to a psychiatric unit of a hospital or other health care facility, advising the police of your threat and the identity of the intended victim, warning the intended victim or his or her parents if the intended victim is under 18, and warning your parents if you are under 18.
  • Worker’s Compensation: If you file a worker’s compensation claim, I may be required to release relevant information from your mental health records to a participant in the worker’s compensation case, a reinsurer, the health care provider, medical and non-medical experts in connection with the case, the Division of Worker’s Compensation, or the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau.
  • Please see the Psychologist-Patient Services Agreement and the New Jersey Notice form for a fuller explanation of Limits on Confidentiality.