Randall Eiger LCSW
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Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Q:  Why enter therapy?

People enter therapy for different reasons. Some are suffering from anxiety, depression, a sudden loss or other traumatic event. Some can't seem to get what they want out of life — their relationships aren't working, they're unsatisfied with their careers, or a pattern of self-defeating behavior is keeping them from reaching their full potential.

Others suffer from addiction to alcohol, drugs, food or other substances. Some have an important decision to make and they want help in considering it. Couples come to sort out relationships. Families come when the behavior of one or more members is threatening the cohesiveness of the family unit.

Q:  Does therapy work?
A: According to research by Consumer Reports, and reported by the American Psychological Association, most patients benefit substantially from psychotherapy.
Q:  How long does therapy take?
A: It depends on the severity of the issues, as well as the needs and goals of the patient. If the goal is relief of symptoms and a return to previous functioning, short-term therapy may be sufficient. If the goal is treatment of more severe symptoms, or improvement in well-being and overall quality of life, longer-term therapy is indicated. In practice, therapy ends either when there is substantial improvement or when the patient is dissatisfied and decides to leave.
Q:  What is important to success in therapy?
A: Most important is that there be a relationship of trust and respect between patient and therapist. In addition, research indicates that patients who play an active role in their treatment are most likely to benefit. This means doing any "homework" that may be assigned by the therapist, showing up regularly and on time for appointments, and speaking frankly to the therapist about any negative feelings the patient may have about the therapist or the treatment.
Q:  How do you choose a therapist?

The best reason to choose a therapist is because you feel comfortable with him or her, and feel you can work together productively. Prior to making that decision, there is some groundwork to be done. It is always good to begin with a referral from a trusted source. You will also want to ask prospective therapists about their training and qualifications. And you may want to interview a few therapists before you make a final decision.

Q:   How do I know if a therapist isn't for me?
A: If you don't feel comfortable with a therapist, he or she isn't for you, even if good for someone else. Beware of therapists who set themselves up as "gurus" or who suggest that they have special healing powers. Also beware of therapists who respond angrily, or dismissively, when you criticize them or question their approach. And don't even think of seeing therapists who won't discuss their training or credentials
Q:  Should I use my insurance to get therapy or will I get better treatment if I pay for it myself?
A: There is nothing wrong with using your insurance to pay for treatment, but it is important to know that the treatment will have certain limitations. Insurance companies prefer that therapists provide short-term treatment that relieves symptoms and returns patients to their previous level of functioning. They usually will not pay for treatment designed to enhance self-understanding, improve well-being and raise the overall quality of life. In addition, patients are asked to sign a release allowing the therapist to discuss the patient's issues with the insurance company. Treatment paid for by insurance is therefore less confidential.