And the day came when the desire to remain the same

                               was more painful than the risk to grow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Anais Nin

Dr. Jennifer H. Harris, Psy.D.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals, and values

  • Developing skills for improving your relationships

  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy

  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety

  • Managing anger, grief, depression, or emotional pressures

  • Improving communication and listening skills

  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones

  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage

  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

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 challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if  it's right for me?

People have many different motivations for engaging in psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful cirumstances well. Some people seek assistance managing issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addiction, relationships, spiritual challenges, and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement, and help with 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 short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges and make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different concerns and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events of your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short term, for a specific issue, or longer term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist - typically weekly, or bi-weekly.

It is important to understand that you will get the best results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn from the sessions into your daily life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in each visit, your 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, noting particular behaviors, thoughts, or patterns, and taking action on  your goals. People seeking psychotherapy desire to make positive change in their lives, which suggests an openness to new perspectives and involves taking personal responsibility.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved soley by medication. Psychotherapy addresses the cause of one's distress, and the behavior patterns that are barriers to progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. In some cases a combination of  medication and psychotherapy is the right course of action. This is a decision that your therapist can advise you about, but will not prescibe for. Psychologists typically do no prescribe medication. You will be referred to your medical doctor for pharmacological interventions that can be an adjunct to therapy.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between client and therapist. 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 should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called "Informed Consent." Sometimes, however, you may want  your therapist to share information or give an update to someone  on your healthcare team (physician, naturopath, attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

There are, however, important Limitations to Confidentiality under certain conditions. State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

  • Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of chldren, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

  • if the therapist has reason to suspect that the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.

If you would like to learn more, or are ready to schedule an appointment, please email doctorj151@gmail.com or call 805-636-1681. I will be happy to provide a brief consultation to answer your questions and discuss your therapy goals.

Today is the Day, and Now is the Moment!

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