Like to know more about Therapy?

By: Western Suburbs Psychology  08-Nov-2011

   What to expect from treatment with a Psychologist/Therapist 

Everyone is unique, so what you gain and develop through therapy will differ from the next person. There are a number of factors though which may be of particular importance to the outcome of treatment:

1.       The relationship between the client and therapist
There is no factor that is of more importance as a predictor of treatment efficacy. First impressions certainly count. If you are unsure about whether you feel supported and understood, and that your concerns are not being addressed through treatment, then this may be raised with the therapist. After 1 or 2 sessions you should have a reasonable idea whether sticking with the therapist you have chosen is worth doing or if being referred on to another person may possibly represent a better fit for you.

2.       The skills/knowledge of the therapist
This includes the therapist’s ability to understand your concerns and provide appropriate intervention based on your unique circumstances. Some therapists may hold postgraduate qualifications or a Masters degree or a Doctorate/ PhD.  It is important that the therapist is registered with a local professional body (including PACFA, AAPi, AABCAP or APS).

3.       Presenting problems
If you have more severe psychological distress, or have multiple levels of distress (e.g past trauma, current conflict, perhaps even depression and substance abuse occurring together) this will influence the frequency and duration of treatment. Entrenched depression and anxiety may still respond favourably to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The more severe the anxiety and depression the more likely that you may need medication in conjunction with therapy. This can be discussed with your GP, or a Psychiatrist. Often antidepressants (especially SSRI and SNRI antidepressants) are prescribed for people suffering more severe levels of depression and/or anxiety. St. John’s Wort, a herbal supplement, has been shown to improve mood in mild to moderately depressed people. Do not take this product if you are taking any pharmaceutical antidepressant, as you may suffer Serotonin Syndrome, a serious and sometimes life threatening medical condition caused by too much serotonin in the body. If you are unsure, talk to your GP for further advice.

4.       Homework exercises
As part of treatment you can expect to be provided with some psychoeducation around the nature of your particular circumstances and some of the treatments that may assist you reduce feelings of anxiety, depression or other unfavourable mood states. The therapist should be able to provide you with a diagnosis after a few sessions and commence treating your symptoms as soon as possible. Homework exercises include but are not limited to:
·         Journal writing
·         Making a record of specific thoughts, feelings, behaviours that occur in between sessions. ·         Developing an ‘Activity Schedule’ where specifics tasks like going to the gym or me          ·         Writing a ‘Timeline’ incorporating important specific events that have occurred in your life  since birth, the meaning of those events, what you learned about them in relation to yourself, others and the future.  

The above homework exercises can be reviewed in treatment with your therapist. It is important to make an effort to complete the exercises and bring this to your appointment. There is any increasing body of evidence to support the positive benefits of therapy.

On a neurological level, areas of the brain that relate to positive mood (e.g receptors that bind to the neurotransmitter dopamine) are more active in depressed patients who have undergone therapy of even short duration (3 months) than a control group who received no treatment. By challenging negative, unwanted thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones, your mood may be inclined to be less problematic for you, and it should be easier to start to do things that you have been putting off, like meeting new friends, having a holiday, or even developing a spiritual practice if you wish. Make it  a priority to commence to or to re-engage in therapy if you feel that your mood is interfering with your life.  

The above article was written by Daniel Rowland, Consultant Psychologist, at Western Suburbs Psychology.
Visit us online at www.psych.com.au or call (02)8860 9553 for an appointment.

The advice is of a general nature only, and should not be used in place of any existing treatment you may be receiving. Rather, it is intended to provide information that may be of benefit to you or people you may know.


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