Frequently Asked Questions

Psychotherapy (also known as counseling or therapy) can be an important part of treatment for a variety of problems and disorders. Our therapists can help you cope with feelings and symptoms, and assist with changing behavior patterns that may contribute to your difficulties.

Therapy is not just “talking about your problems”; it is also working toward solutions. It is not primarily looking at the past. Focusing on the past can help explain things in your life, but focusing on the present can help you cope with the present and prepare for the future.

Psychotherapy can help with:

  • Understanding your problems and issues
  • Defining and reaching wellness goals
  • Overcoming fears or insecurities
  • Coping with stress
  • Making sense of past traumatic experiences
  • Identifing triggers that may worsen your symptoms
  • Improving relationships with family and friends
  • Establishing a stable, dependable routine
  • Developing a plan for coping with crises
  • Understanding why things bother you and what you can do about them
  • Ending destructive habits such as drinking, using drugs, overspending or unhealthy sexual expression
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and you may have successfully made it through the difficulties you’ve faced. But, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, realizing when you need a helping hand is a sign that you are a great candidate for therapy. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy can give you the tools you need to overcome whatever challenges you face.
Some of the signs that might indicate therapy could be helpful in your situation include the following:

  1. Feeling sad and unmotivated. If you have had feelings of hopelessness, decreased energy, sadness, irritability, thoughts of suicide, feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, or are no longer finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, you may be ready for therapy and may benefit from talking to one of our therapists.
  2. Excessive worry. If you feel as though your anxiety is getting in the way of normal activities and/or you are unable to sleep at night due to constantly thinking about your difficulties, you may want to consider calling us.
  3. Trauma or abuse. If you have experienced any type of traumatic event or abusive relationship, coming to terms with your experience by talking to one of our therapists can be extremely helpful. Trauma and abuse can leave long-term scars that, if left untreated and ignored, can negatively impact your life, relationships, and ability to experience joy or happiness.
  4. Relationship problems. If your relationship has become unfulfilling and it seems like communication between you and your partner is just not working, seeking out couples counseling can be a helpful step in getting your relationship back on track.
  5. Difficult life transitions. We all face difficult life situations at times–the loss of a job, a move to a new city, a divorce, or the loss of a loved one. When difficulties such as these arise and you find it difficult to move on, talking with a therapist can be an effective way to process your feelings and work through the situation.
  6. If you are struggling with any type of addiction—substance abuse, an eating disorder, gambling, sex addiction or others —seeking therapy can be an effective way to get out from under the power of the addiction.
  7. Obsessive or compulsive behaviors. If you are spending too much time checking to make sure you have turned off the stove, washing your hands, hanging your cloths just right, arranging things in the cabinet, or other obsessive behaviors or compulsive thoughts, receiving therapy could be extremely beneficial in getting your life in order.
  8. Children excessively acting out. If your child or children have been misbehaving and you are at your wit’s end trying to figure out what to do, talking with a professional who has experience with children’s issues can be helpful. A therapist can frequently provide you with some additional parenting tools to make your life easier.

In addition to helping with the issues listed above and a variety of others, our therapists can provide you with insight and awareness; finding ways to make your life more fulfilling and less problematic. Sometimes making the initial call and setting that first appointment can feel scary, but overcoming that fear is more than worthwhile when you discover the benefits of reaching out to a therapist.

Your first appointment with your therapist is primarily an information-gathering session for the therapist. He or she needs to learn a lot about you and your history in a short amount of time in order to properly evaluate your concerns and develop a plan for helping.

Even though your therapist will make some kind of diagnosis, you are a person not simply a diagnosis. You have a story, which is your own, very personal story. The only person who can tell your story is you. So during your first appointment with one of our therapists, you should remind yourself you are the expert about your life. The therapist isn’t there to judge you, embarrass you or to tell you how screwed up he or she thinks you are. No, in fact, their main job is to simply listen to you, hear your story and then help you in solving whatever brought you in.

Therapists of course want to hear what the current problem is and where it all started. That helps address your immediate needs and what brought you in that day to see the therapist. But the therapist also might ask you a bit about your childhood and family background just to understand your development a little better.

You, being the expert on yourself, can share as much or as little as you’d like. Since you have a limited amount of time in session, you’ll want to focus on what’s most important to you and try and stick to it. Many times you will leave your first session thinking you left out something important. Not to worry, it’s something you can always talk about in your next session.

Many people will leave their first session feeling: relieved, horrified, peaceful, more anxious, hopeful, or any combination of these feelings and more. Since psychotherapy is a powerful experience unlike any other in this world, it can be a little scary and intimidating. Most people who try psychotherapy end up liking it, and appreciating their time with their therapist as a chance to explore new ways of being, of thinking, of feeling.

What Happens Next

At the end of your first appointment, the therapist will often arrive at a tentative diagnosis for your problem. This is usually necessary in order to be paid by your insurance company (they won’t pay without a diagnosis) and diagnoses help guide your therapist in helping you formulate a realistic treatment plan, and whether medication may be helpful or necessary. If the professional you see doesn’t share the diagnosis with you, you’re always welcomed to ask — it’s your right as a patient to know it.

Some professionals don’t feel entirely comfortable in making a diagnosis after just one session, so know that they may update or change your diagnosis after additional sessions in getting to know you.

If the therapist believes medication might be appropriate, he or she will also provide you with a referral to a psychiatrist or other doctor for a medication evaluation. A medical doctor is the only professional who can decide if medication will be right for you, and if so, what specific kind of medication may be most helpful.

Scientific studies show that psychotherapy with an effective therapist, works better in the long-term and is more enduring than medication. When studying patients with anxiety and depression, scientists have found that patients who have psychotherapy do better than those using medication alone.
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 at Bridges is committed to your confidentiality. You can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.

Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, there are certain situations where state law and professional ethics require therapists to share certain information. Here are the two situations where your therapist will not maintain confidentiality:

  • When there is suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders. This will be reported to 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 seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.