You possess the ability to better regulate your emotions, manage your relationships, deal with pain and anxiety, quieten your ego and build a life that brims with purpose and meaning. You can learn to see your thoughts and emotions for what they are. You can learn to distance yourself from them and view them from an unbiased perspective. With the help of a counselor, you can gain insight into your feelings and thoughts, and learn practical ways to overcome ineffective responses and negative patterns. Therapy can provide you with support while helping you put the confusion and distraction behind you and opt for clarity, meaning and direction—working towards detachment, rediscovery, focus, discipline, free of ego, anxiety and baggage. Individual therapy (psychotherapy, talk therapy, counseling) takes place in a safe, supportive, and confidential environment. Intown Counseling & Wellness takes great pride in its commitment to providing a safe, nurturing and affirming environment—and we’re committed in our efforts towards equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Counseling allows individuals to explore their feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, as well as work through memories that are still challenging and unsettling. Therapy can also help individuals identify aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change. Individual counseling can help one deal with many personal topics in life such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, challenges in marriage and relationships, problems related to parenting and schooling. Individual psychotherapy may also encompass career counseling and planning, grief after the death of a loved one, or dealing with problems at work. You may benefit from therapy throughout your life, or you may discontinue therapy after several sessions if you feel that you have learned the skills and found the inner resources to meet your life challenges—although it never hurts to go back now and again.
What can psychotherapy help with?
Therapy can help treat a wide array of issues—mental, emotional and behavioral. Common goals of therapy can be to inspire change or improve one’s quality of life. You may seek therapy for help with issues that are hard to face alone, and therapy can increase positive feelings, such as compassion and self-esteem. You may come to therapy with a specific goal in mind, but the insights gained in therapy can lead to reflection on deeper issues. Exploration of current problems can often lead to exploring longer-standing patterns in your life. You may also benefit from looking at your past, at what has worked and what hasn’t worked for you. Many find they enjoy the therapeutic journey of becoming more self-aware.
Concerns that may be discussed in therapy include, but are not limited to:
- Relationship or marriage challenges
- Career problems
- Family issues
- Life Stressors
Benefits of individual therapy may include, but are not limited to:
- Improved communication skills
- Healthy coping and grounding skills
- One-on-one attention from a trained professional
- Safe, comfortable and nurturing environment
- Improved interpersonal relationships
- Support overcoming life’s obstacles
- Increased self-esteem
- Improved frustration-tolerance and anger management skills
- More meaning in your life
- Identification and breaking of cycles, leading one to quit making the same mistakes
- Improved emotional regulation
During therapy you will learn about mindfulness, which has to do with the quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living. You will learn to control your mind, rather than allowing your mind to control you. Mindfulness practice is the means of familiarizing oneself with awareness itself. The recognition of an innate, ever-present awareness is the foundation of positive mental health—psychological and emotional resilience and an overarching sense of wellbeing that can be effectively cultivated and relied upon. While learning to focus on the present moment, you’ll simultaneously work on your ability to control your concentration. Few things affect your life more than your faculty of concentration. If you can’t focus your attention—due to either agitation or dullness—you can’t do anything well. You will also learn and gain insights to help you overcome mood swings and changes, including distress tolerance skills and emotional regulation skills.
The therapist-client relationship
Humans are social creatures, so talking and communicating with others is one of the primary methods we have for processing our thoughts. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, our emotions, worries, and stressors can seem like too much to unload on a friend or family member. That’s where talk therapy can help. One-on-one therapy provides you with a trained and seasoned professional that you can speak to in confidence. A licensed therapist can respond to your concerns objectively, offer a comforting word, and give you sound advice and guidance. The more open and honest the communication is between a therapist and client, the more likely it is that treatment will be effective.
Who provides individual therapy?
Many kinds of mental health professionals provide therapy. The standards for becoming a therapist usually depend on a state’s licensing board, but most therapists have a master’s or doctoral degree. Therapists can have many titles, based on their level of education and training. At Intown Counseling & Wellness you will find our staff includes licensed professional counselors (LPC), certified rehabilitation counselors (CRC), psychologists (Ph.D./ Psy.D.), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), and licensed clinical social workers (LCSW).
Talking to a therapist versus talking to a friend or family member
Why should someone hire a therapist instead of talking through their problems with a friend or family member? If you have someone in your life with whom you feel comfortable opening up, that is amazing, and we would encourage you to continue cultivating that relationship. We all need these vital human connections in our lives! But a therapist brings to the table something a little different than a friend or family member can bring, because therapists are trained to empathize with their clients’ experience without becoming overwhelmed. They can regulate their own emotions while sitting with your pain. They can bear witness to what you’re going through without running away, or jumping in to fix it, or telling you that it’s not a big deal. Therapists are skilled listeners who can helping clients discover their own motivation and ability to bring about real and long-lasting change.
Therapists are trained to help you find your inner strengths and blind spots. They can listen to your personal story and identify the underlying characteristics that will eventually drive change. Friends aren’t always going to point out unhealthy patterns in your life, and they will often tell you what you want to hear. Therapists will ask the right questions, without judgment, to make you curious about your own beliefs and behaviors.
Talking to a therapist versus self-help
Why should you see a therapist when you can just read the entire Self-Help section in your local library? Why see a therapist when you can just work through all that emotional stuff by hitting the punching bag, jumping on the Peloton bike, or writing in your journal? No one is implying that self-help, self-care and self-improvement strategies don’t figure in your journey toward happiness. The magic of therapy occurs through human connection with someone who can use their professional training and experience, perspective, and objectivity to guide you.
What to expect during the first therapy session
The first session of therapy often focuses on gathering information, establishing rapport and conveying the boundaries of the therapeutic experience. Your therapist will want to explore your health history— mental, emotional and physical. He or she will also want to discuss the concerns that brought you to therapy. It may take several sessions for your therapist to gain a decent understanding of your situation so they can accurately determine the best course of action. An experienced therapist will gauge the best way to meet your unique needs, along with your input and direction.
In therapy sessions, the client usually does most of the talking, with the therapist providing feedback as necessary, or as requested. This practice boosts the client’s self-confidence and keeps the focus of the session on the client’s needs. Sessions may provoke many feelings: joy, relief, sadness, anger, shame, guilt and fear, among others. Therapists can help clients make sense of those feelings and help clients utilize their understanding of these feelings to improve their emotional regulation. Sessions in individual psychotherapy are typically 50-59 minutes in length, generally taking place in either a therapist’s office or using video conferencing via your computer, phone or tablet.
Feel free to ask questions at any point during the therapy process. Therapists might assign “homework” to help build on topics discussed during therapy. People in treatment can expect—and are entitled to—confidentiality during therapy sessions; although, a therapist may have no choice but to break that confidentiality if someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, as required by federal and/or state law. The limits of confidentiality may be discussed during the first therapy session, and clients consent to this upon reading and signing the document outlined in the Information, Authorization & Consent to Treatment document prior to the initial consultation.
The person in therapy can also use their first session to decide if the therapist’s style is a good fit for their needs. Finding a therapist you are comfortable with is vital to successful treatment. A therapist may also decline to further treat a client if it does not seem like a good fit or if the concerns presented are outside of the therapist’s expertise. In this case, the therapist will provide a referral to other resources.
How are therapy goals, frequency and duration determined?
In general, the goal of psychotherapy is to talk through mental health concerns and help clients heal, grow, and move toward more productive and psychologically healthy lives. Good therapy is client-driven, and specific and timely goals for therapy will be determined by you and your therapist. The frequency and duration of therapy will depend largely on your needs, on the severity of the presenting issue(s), on treatment goals, and on how quickly an individual progresses in therapy. Some concerns can be addressed through short-term therapy over a few weeks. Chronic or more complex concerns frequently require longer-term treatment.
Effectiveness of individual therapy
Even if therapy cannot necessarily “cure” a condition, it can help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms and learn various skills to regulate their emotions and thoughts. Someone’s determination in therapy is essential for meeting therapeutic goals and fostering a positive therapeutic relationship. Research shows that therapy may result in fewer relapses of common conditions, including moderate depression and anxiety. Furthermore, positive effects of good therapy extend well beyond treatment, and many people report improved conditions long after therapy has ended. Therapy is often more effective than psychotropic medication or medical treatments alone. When used on their own, sometimes those medical treatments can actually have harmful side effects. Additionally, the therapeutic approaches used at Intown Counseling & Wellness are evidence-based, meaning they have been subject to research studies and clinical observations to test their effectiveness.
When a person in therapy is open and honest, therapists are better able to address each issue and adjust the treatment approach as needed. Going to therapy might feel difficult on some days, but it is important to attend each session and complete any homework assigned. Studies show that the therapeutic process is most effective when it’s based on a strong alliance between counselor/therapist and client. The therapeutic relationship helps the client feel heard and understood in a safe and supported environment. This special bond promotes honesty, insight, flexibility, accountability, curiosity, healing, self-compassion—and ultimately personal growth. Individual therapy works because people have the ability to change. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s amazing ability to adapt and make new neuro-connections! Sometimes emotional or behavioral changes happen little by little, and other times a single therapeutic breakthrough will set off a chain reaction.
How to succeed in individual therapy
Individual therapy should first and foremost lead to greater self-acceptance and self-knowledge. These benefits tend to have a trickle-down effect on your life, improving relationships, compassion, coping mechanisms, discontinuing maladaptive behaviors, and much more. To gain self-acceptance and self-knowledge, you must be open with your therapist. It’s okay if this takes time—therapists are patient, but you need to commit yourself to being honest and accountable. If you’re having trouble with the process, tell your counselor. It’s okay to talk in therapy about therapy! Your feedback can provide helpful insights and can lead to a greater rapport with the therapist.
Outside of the therapy room is where the real work happens. Inside the therapy room is a protected and carefully-managed safe place, but it’s not the same as real life. Important work happens in the therapy room, but much of the important work happens when you incorporate what you just got in therapy into your real life, outside. Unfortunately, a lot of people leave the therapy room and then forget all about important issues covered during the therapy session until their next appointment. It’s not surprising, then, that those people don’t tend to get as much out of therapy… their symptoms persist in their severity for longer and they end up staying much longer in therapy.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your therapy sessions and translate what you’re learning in the therapy room into your life.
How to prepare for a therapy session:
- Are there any updates to report?
- Any significant stressors, crises, or challenges?
- Any celebrations, successes or victories?
- What problem(s) do you want to work on today?
- How have you been feeling this week, compared to other weeks?
- What happened this week that your therapist should know about?
- Consider what was covered during the last session… Review your notes from the last therapy session, including the notes you took while in session.
- Anything that bothered you about the last session?
- Any unfinished business?
- Anything you’re reluctant to tell your therapist?
- Review any homework. If you and your therapist didn’t specifically agree on any homework, write down one or two things you could commit to trying to do differently in the upcoming week.
Consider online therapy (teletherapy/telehealth)
Despite the many benefits of individual therapy, many people don’t feel that they can fit counseling into their busy schedules. Our modern lives have become incredibly hectic, and it can feel too time-consuming to commute to a therapist’s office, even nearby.
That’s where online therapy (teletherapy/telehealth) can provide an advantage. With remote therapy services, you can connect with our trained mental health professional from your home or office, wherever is most convenient for you. Since the pandemic and the consequent advent of online mental health services, increasingly more research is being conducted regarding its effectiveness. Many studies are yielding encouraging results. In fact, an important meta-analysis found that online teletherapy services can be just as effective as in-person therapy. While you’re always welcome to visit us at our beautiful offices in the Morningside neighborhood, we’re also pleased to schedule a session at a time that’s convenient for you using your phone, tablet or computer.
When is it best to seek therapy?
- It could be time to seek therapy if an issue causes distress or grief in your daily life.
- Distress can mean negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors, or even a bodily sensation such as pain or fatigue.
- It may be best to seek therapy if you are often unhappy or feel overwhelmed and hopeless about issues in your life.
- Therapy can also help if you cannot focus on work or school, experience addiction, or feel like hurting yourself or someone else.
- It is important not to wait until symptoms become too severe before going to therapy.
Ready to start therapy?
We admire your courage as you endeavor to take the next step and we look forward to working with you when you’re ready.
We process appointment inquiries Monday – Friday between 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
One of our staff members will do a brief telephone intake with you and match you with one of our therapists. Our staff consists of a diverse team of highly-trained and specialized clinicians, each possessing a wide range of expertise and experience. We strive to schedule you with the best and most appropriate mental health professional, based on the concerns, as well as any preferences you may have. If there is a particular therapist you would like to work with, please mention his or her name when you call. Feel free to read our staff bios if you would like a better understanding of the different areas of interest and expertise that our clinical staff offers.
Day or evening appointments are available Monday – Friday, and some of our clinicians provide services on Saturdays.