Friday 14 May 2010

Archived Post 2010 - A Therapy Primer

As a society one of the biggest mistakes that we make is to tell people to pull up their socks and get on with life. Sometimes life is really hard, things go wrong, people get hurt and the last thing that we need to do is minimize a persons suffering. It is hard for a lot of adults to admit that they need help. It is hard for adults to admit that they can not just pull up their socks and move on, that the pain is to great and that they need someone to help them.

Let me tell you this now, I will say it as many times as you need to hear. Therapy is a really, really good thing.

I have heard all the excuses in the book that people have to avoid going to therapy. They are really good excuses....
I tried it, it didn't work.
or how about - They asked me to swing naked from the chandelier to help with my depression and I just could not do it.
or - I can't afford it.
or - we went 3 times and nothing got any better.
or - it won't help, I just need a thicker skin.
or - they won't understand what it is like to parent a kid with ____ ( RAD, ADHD, Autism, etc.)

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.

There are a few things that you need to remember though ( I am not an expert but I have been in therapy a really long time and my husband is a therapist)

- you may not click with the first therapist you try, you may have to try out a whole bunch of them before you find the right one who you feel comfortable with and who can help you with your issues.

- There are lots of types of therapy and not all therapists are trained in all methods, most specialize in one or two things. If you want to talk about trauma and PTSD do not go to someone who specialized in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy unless they also have trauma experience and skills. Do not be afraid to question someones training because not everyone is honest.

- Yes it can get really expensive, really quickly. We find the money. We eat out less, we rent movies instead of going to the theater and we are generally really frugal about a lot of things to find the money for us both to have our own therapists. I go every three weeks, that is enough for me at this point in my life, when I was in university and depressed I went every week, sometimes twice ( I still have debt from those years)

- Many therapists have a sliding scale, talk about your money woes, be honest and see if they are able to help you out. It may seem like a lot of money per hour but remember it is about the same amount of money your mechanic charges for an hour of work. Therapists go to school a long time and are always taking courses to improve their skills, they do not make a lot money, trust me.

- Therapy is not just for kids or really broken adults, many people benefit from therapy once they find the right therapist. Sometimes it is a short term thing and other times it takes years. Few things can be dealt with in less than about 10 sessions though because you need to build a relationship with the therapist, work through the issue and then bring closure to the relationship.

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.

There are lots of people out their who say that they are specialists in one type of therapy or another. I thought I would fill you in on some that language because it can get a bit overwhelming.

Certified Counsellor - not all therapists are PhD's, some have a master's degree but they should belong to college or governing body. It is different in every state and province but look into how it works where you live and ask if they are members of the local college/governing body for their field. Social workers can be counsellors in some places and they belong to a different college than psychotherapists... it can get really confusing with all the different systems but check credentials of whomever you see.

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  is a method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress - taken from EMDR International Assoc. Homepage

CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a therapy type that encourages the client to become aware of the behaviours that reinforce psychological distress. It is useful with issues like anxiety ( and related issues), OCD and panic disorder. You can find more information here

Gestalt Therapy - focuses on gaining an awareness of emotions and behaviors in the present rather than in the past. The therapist does not interpret experiences for the patient, instead the therapist and patient work together to help the patient understand themselves. There are many aspect to Gestalt and you may hear it referred to as the "two chair" method. You can find more information here

Therapy for you to do with your child
Our kids often need therapy, it is much more useful if you attend all therapy sessions with your child. There are many reasons for this that a good therapist can explain to you but it is about attachment and your child's relationship with you, not with the therapist. If you can not find someone who will encourage your active participation then keep looking until you do.

Attachment Therapy - Is a really great thing to do with your kids if they have attachment issues. (This is not holding therapy. If someone wants to do that with you and your kids please run screaming from the room) There are lots of great ways to foster attachment with kids and none of them involve any holding except having your child sit on your lap sometimes. Dyadic Developmental Therapy is great place to start with and then you can look for therapists who are trained in that method or similar methods within your community.

 Art/Music/Therapy -  these use a medium to get the therapeutic process going. You can find more information on Art and Music therapy by following those links. I have grouped them together here but they both have very different approaches and very different outcomes.

Play Therapy - A therapy style that speaks to children in the language they speak best, play. It is useful for kids with a variety of issues including trauma.  There are lots of different techniques used in play therapy including sand tray, puppetry and story telling. You can find a longer definition here

Do not be afraid of therapy, it can be a really, really good thing and just like everything else in the world, there are bad therapists out there. Do not let them shade your view because there are also lots of great ones who can help.

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.