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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Psychotherapy Blog: The Benefits of Therapy

Have you been thinking about starting therapy? Possibly, you've been on the fence for a while, you have mixed feelings about it or you feel anxious about starting the process. In this post, I discuss some of the benefits of participating in psychotherapy and what to look for in a therapist.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

Factors that Contribute to a Successful Therapy
One of the most important factors in determining whether psychotherapy will be beneficial to you is finding a psychotherapist that you feel comfortable with.

You might not be able to tell this from the initial consultation, especially if you're anxious. But usually after a few sessions, you have a sense as to whether or not you feel a rapport with a therapist.

Another important factor is how you use your psychotherapy sessions: Bringing in issues that you want to work on; thinking about what you and your therapist discussed between sessions and bringing in your reflections to the next session; coming to therapy sessions on a regular basis, and being open to the therapeutic process.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy


Having an objective person who is trained to help you overcome your problems
People who have never participated in psychotherapy will often ask, "What's the difference between talking to a psychotherapist or talking to a friend?" This is an excellent question.

If you're seeing a licensed psychotherapist who has been trained to help clients overcome their problems, you're working with a professional that has the skills and experience to help you work through your issues, as compared to your friend, who might be a good listener but who lacks these skills.

Also, when you see a licensed mental health professional, you're discussing your problems with someone who is objective and whose only stake in the situation is to see you overcome your problems and feel better, whereas your friends and family members, without even realizing it, might not be objective.

Overcoming Problems that are Keeping You Stuck
When you participate in psychotherapy, you can overcome problems that are keeping you stuck in your personal life or in your career. These problems have often been obstacles to your well-being for months or years.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy:  Overcoming Problems That Are Keeping You Stuck

While there are no guarantees, assuming that you and your psychotherapist are a good "fit," you're more likely to overcome your problems if you participate in psychotherapy than if you keep trying on your own to do the same things that have not worked in the past.

Freeing Yourself from Your History
As most people know, many problems of a longstanding and intractable nature have their origins in childhood. For example, if you're suffering with low self esteem or you have a long history of choosing partners who don't treat you well, if you suffer with an eating disorder, if you feel depressed or anxious, often, this is the result of unresolved childhood issues.

When you're able to work through these issues in psychotherapy, you're able to free yourself from childhood issues that were holding you back. To liberate yourself from these problems can be an amazing feeling. The alternative is to live the rest of your life with these unresolved issues as obstacles to your happiness and well-being.

Overcoming Physical Problems that are Related to Emotional Problems
In many cases, participating in psychotherapy can alleviate physical problems that result from emotional problems. "How can this be?," you might ask.

The answer is that the mind and the body are connected, and when you struggle to cope with emotional problems, you can develop certain physical symptoms that are directly related to your emotional issues. These might include: tension headaches, muscle tightness and pain, certain types of asthma, backaches, neck pain, upset stomach and other gastrointestinal problems, feeling tired most of the time, and so on.

While it's always important to see your doctor to rule out medical issues, many of these physical symptoms are directly related to unresolved psychological problems and are often alleviated when the emotional problems are resolved.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy:  Physical Problems Are Often Related to Psychological Issues

Many people go to their doctors to deal with physical problems only to be told that their doctors cannot find any physical reason for these issues. At that point, most doctors who understand the mind-body connection will recommend that their patients see a psychotherapist.

Gaining Insight into Yourself
If you're open to the psychotherapeutic process, you can gain tremendous insight into yourself and your relationships. The type of insight that I'm referring to is not just an intellectual insight. While intellectual insight is important, by itself, intellectual insight often does not lead to actual change.

Gaining emotional insight, insight that you can feel, is what actually provides a shift in how you feel, as well as how you think and act. Gaining emotional insight into your problems can help you to change old habits and behaviors that are keeping you stuck.

How deep you go will depend on what you're looking for in the psychotherapeutic process as well as the skills, training and experience of your psychotherapist.

When you choose a psychotherapist, there are other issues to consider:

Finding a Psychotherapist
As I mentioned previously, it's important to find someone that you're comfortable with and who has the skills, training and experience required for the particular issues that you want to work on.

Many people can tell from the first session if they're comfortable with a particular psychotherapist. Most others, due to anxiety or other issues, need to see a therapist for a few sessions before they can tell if she or he is the right therapist for them.

Aside from the technical skills involved with being a psychotherapist, you also want to get a sense that the therapist is empathetic and caring towards you while maintaining professional boundaries.


How Long is Psychotherapy?


Psychotherapy can be short-term if you have a particular issue that you want to work on that can be resolved in a few sessions. As previously mentioned, if you use your managed care mental health benefits, the length of your treatment will often be determined by your insurance company. Other than that, an example of short-term therapy is using clinical hypnosis to stop smoking or to overcome other negative habits.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy:  There is Long-Term and Short-Term Therapy

Another example would be using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy to overcome a particular fear, like fear of driving again after a car accident. I describe both of these forms of treatment in detail in earlier posts. There are also many other examples of short-term issues. Cognitive behavioral treatment can also be effective in overcoming certain phobias or anxiety-related issues.

Psychotherapy can also be of a more long-term process if you have the curiosity to explore your issues in a more in depth, psychodynamic way. Exploring your unconscious thoughts, fantasies and your dreams would be part of a more psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Even clients who initially have fears or concerns about psychotherapy usually find the process to be gratifying. The important thing is to know that you're not alone, and many other people have dealt with and resolved issues that you're struggling with now in therapy. Rather than continuing to suffer, it's important to get help.

I'm a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing therapist. 

I work with individual adults and couples, and I have helped many clients in both short-term and long-term therapy. 


To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.





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