What you obtain from therapy depends on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn.
Active participants in treatment have shared the following benefits:
- Achieving greater personal awareness and insight.
- Recognizing unhelpful behavioral patterns and learning to be more effective.
- Increasing self-care and health, experiencing greater energy and stamina.
- Noticing a decrease in chronic physical symptoms such as headaches, and stomach problems.
- Increasing self-esteem and confidence, reducing social anxiety, increasing healthy risk taking.
- Finding resolutions to the problems that brought you into therapy.
- Learning how to think creatively and problem-solve more effectively.
- Experiencing a significant reduction in emotional distress.
- Experiencing greater satisfaction in relationships, at home, at work, and at school.
- Learning how to communicate your needs and listen more effectively to the needs of others.
- Learning new and effective coping strategies for managing anxiety, sadness, and daily pressures.
- Experiencing the resiliency to manage, not fight, the unavoidable pain we all experience in our lifetime.
- Experiencing contentment and hope, not fear, in spite of challenges.
- Experiencing the newfound energy and interest in creating a life that nourishes and empowers you.
But how long do these benefits last?
It may be hard to believe but the above benefits are not quick-fixes. Psychotherapy can offer engaged patients the opportunity to move practiced states of healthy coping into more permanent traits of healthy living. Thanks to the increasing number of research studies using, among other measurements, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track activity in the living brain, we have the data to prove that psychotherapy is a positive brain-changing endeavor.
Scientists have shown us that psychotherapy, especially if it incorporates a mindfulness-based approach to healing, has been scientifically proven to alter the structure and improve the functioning of the brain. As with active learning, cellular growth occurs in certain regions of the brain in response to the development, practice, and reinforcement of new concepts. Skills to promote stress-reduction, attention-training and self-awareness that are practiced inside and outside of treatment will result in a change to how areas of the brain are activated and deactivated in times of stress.
Once your brain is trained to respond with less reactivity to stressors and negative thoughts, you have the power to live an authentic life driven by your passions and your interests, not by your fears and doubts. In essence, you will have developed an inner core of strength and well-being that will stand up to whatever life throws your way.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Many patients who begin therapy with me initially describe feeling as if they are a victim of their circumstances, of other people, and of their emotions. During the process of therapy, they start to realize that the difficulties and the sorrow associated with living this life are inevitable. You cannot avoid suffering, and yet avoidance of pain remains the exhausting exercise in futility that most of us don't even question.
But patients engaged in treatment gain a newfound awareness when they start to develop the means to train their brain to work more effectively. And as skills are learned and practiced inside and outside of sessions, increased states of awareness turn into more permanent positive traits revealing wisdom and an overall sense of well-being.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), the loss of someone close to them, or are not handling challenging circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.
A therapist will offer much needed encouragement and help people develop the skills to get through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.
In essence, people seeking psychotherapy have recognized the benefits of addressing the unavoidable challenges they face throughout life and realize that they need the tools and the guidance to make permanent, positive changes.
As a therapist grounded in a Mindfulness-based and Relational approach to healing, I tend to focus on ways to creatively incorporate scientficially-validated interpersonal neurobiology and contemplative practices in treatment, offering patients practical and supportive ways to "rewire" their brain for optimal functioning. Please see About Jamie Beck to learn more about my treatment philosophy, approach, and the clinical issues in which I specialize.
In general, when you go to therapy with any psychotherapist, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issues, explore healthly and unhealthy coping skills, learn new skills to practice outside of therapy, and share insights and progress since the previous therapy session.
The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, a therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, practicing stress-reduction skills, adjusting nutrition, adding physical activity, observing behaviors, and taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional issues and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the root 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. It is not unusual for patients beginning therapy on psychiatric medication to find that the therapeutic process, the regular practice of skills, and making positive changes to lifestyle may decrease or even discontinue the need for pharmaceuticals. During the process of treatment, we can work with your medical doctor or psychopharmacologist to determine what is best for your clinical needs and your goals.
Does this practice take insurance, and how does that work?
In order to offer patients the best, least restrictive clinical care and to insure their privacy, I have chosen not to contract with insurance companies. Patients pay for services using cash, credit card or check at the time of their appointment and may seek reimbursement from their insurance companies or submit medical expenses for deduction on their taxes.
PAYING OUT-OF-POCKET DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN'T USE YOUR INSURANCE TO PAY FOR THERAPY.
Some patients have PPO insurance plans that will allow them to choose treaters that are out of their insurance network and then get a percentage of their out of pocket expenses covered. In such cases, I can provide patients with a "Superbill" receipt that will have the information required for submitting claims.
Lisa Marshall, a medical billing expert for close to 20 years, has developed a service devoted to claims reimbursement for patients who want the benefits of paying out-of-pocket for treatment without the added costs. If you are unsure whether or not your plan qualifies for reimbursements or you want more information about her services, you can reach her here.
Please see the Rates & Insurance page for more information, including affordable options for treatment.
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a patient and psychotherapist. State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality. The legal exceptions to confidentiality include, but are not limited, to the following:
- If there is good reason to believe the patient is threatening serious bodily harm to himself/herself or others.
- If there is good reason to suspect or there is evidence of abuse and/or neglect toward children, the elderly or disabled persons.
- In response to a court order or where otherwise required by law.
- To the extent necessary, to make a claim on a delinquent account via a collection agency.
- To the extent necessary for emergency medical care to be rendered.
Finally, there are times when I find it beneficial to consult with colleagues as part of my practice for mutual professional supervision. The patient's name and unique identifying characteristics will not be disclosed. The consultant and supervisory group is also legally bound to keep the information confidential.