A Closer Look At Individual Therapy
In any given year, one in five Americans will experience a mental health disorder. Of those, only about half will receive treatment. While there are many different types of mental health treatments available, working together with an experienced therapist in a focused 1-on-1 setting can help you drill down on the issues you’re facing in a safe and supportive environment. While everyone’s heard of therapy, we will delve into some of the specific aspects of individual therapy that may help you decide if it’s the best choice for you or someone you know.
What Is Individual Therapy & Who Is It Best For
You may have seen what many people think individual therapy is in TV or movies. The client has gone through some tragedy lies on a couch listing problem after problem and the therapist giving a catch-all answer for each one. The therapy process in reality is much more involved.
What Actually Individual Therapy?
Individual therapy works as a joint process. You and your therapist work together as a team to tackle your issues and overcome them. My style specifically is to work collaboratively with each patient to shift to a more self-aware, connected, and balanced way of life. Stress and difficulty are a part of life, so therapy isn’t about eliminating them, but strengthening yourself and developing skills to deal with them in a way that doesn’t take your peace, allowing you to heal and grow.
So Who is it for?
Therapy isn’t just for people involved in tragedies or suffering from debilitating mental illness. It can certainly be the case, but many people need to go to therapy just for the mundane challenges of everyday life. Balancing the stressors of work and life, tension in your relationships, life changes, the list is endless! The truth is, anybody can benefit from therapy, but it is best for those willing to accept their need to grow and develop. There are different styles and formats that suit different situations. For example, households under tension may consider family therapy, couples who may need a mediator to facilitate communication may require a marriage or couples counselor. Individual therapy is best for people who need to work on themselves first and foremost.
Individual Therapy’s Advantages
There are many different formats of therapy, and many involve others in a dynamic you’re in such as your spouse with couples counseling, or a group of people suffering the same type of situation like those attending group therapy for retirees or recovering addicts. Individual therapy, however, is nothing but you and your therapist, and offers many unique benefits. While it’s near impossible to cover all of them in one short article, here are some of the most impactful:
Focused & Customized
While this one seems pretty obvious, the actual benefits of one-on-one attention can be understated. When it’s just you and a therapist, all the time is dedicated to you and it’s much easier to customize the treatment around what works best for you at your pace. Also it makes for easier and more flexible scheduling.
Therapy groups have confidentiality in the sense that participants are urged to keep what’s said in session within the session to create a safe space, but in individual therapy, you may feel that much safer as it really does give a sense of confidentiality between just you and your therapist. This can lead you to feel more free for expression, in turn potentially helping you dig deep and get to the root of your issues with your therapist more effectively than you may have otherwise.
Because of the personalized attention and confidentiality previously mentioned, you may be able to develop a stronger working relationship with your therapist. This is also known as therapeutic alliance. You might feel more in-tune with them and be able to bring out issues that you otherwise may not have even realized you had buried. This can lead to a better feedback cycle where your therapist can give you more detailed feedback personalized to you, and you might become even more receptive to it, catapulting your personal growth.
What To Expect In Your First Therapy Session
When going in for your first session, expect to fill out some paperwork first thing. This almost always includes:
- HIPPA forms: These solidify your health (both physical and mental) as confidential
- Medical History: Not just what illnesses you have or have had, but also medications. Even if it all sounds irrelevant, an experienced therapist may need the info for context with potential connections
- Survey of your Symptoms: This helps your therapist understand where you’re coming from and find what might be underpinning your current challenges.
- Releases and Agreements: Other legal documents to get started.
Apart from just being standard protocol, this paperwork also helps your therapist put you and your situation into context before you even start, which benefits you both.
This initial appointment (sometimes called an intake session) doesn’t always jump right into therapy. Usually the therapist dedicates this time to getting to know you and your current situation along with a bit of your history in order for you both to decide what to start with.
It’s important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of therapy is reflected in the amount of work you’re willing to put into it and how open you are to making the changes necessary to overcome your struggles. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. I am here for you, to work together with you and provide a safe, judgment-free zone for you to let everything out and get it into feeling great.