Frequently asked questions about therapy
Every year, millions of Americans receive professional help for emotional issues or relationship problems. Countless more individuals and couples could benefit from professional counseling but do not seek help – often because they don’t know where to turn or they are scared or intimidated by the idea of therapy.
This page answers some of the most common questions asked by people seeking professional therapy and can help you decide if therapy is right for you.
What is therapy?
Therapy is the process of meeting with a licensed professional for the purpose of addressing and resolving certain issues related to behavior, emotions, or relationships. Therapy provides a way for you to express your feelings, understand your behavior, gain perspective, and clarify what you want out of life or your relationships.
What are the benefits of therapy?
Therapy can help alleviate pain and suffering and help add meaning to your life. For many people, therapy provides an effective means of gaining a better understanding of themselves and their goals and values. Therapy can help you develop skills that can improve your relationships, learn how to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner, develop a deeper understanding of your spouse or other loved ones, and make positive changes to improve your life and relationships.
Does going to therapy mean I am “crazy”?
No. Most people in therapy are ordinary people dealing with common problems such as relationship issues, grief, stress, depression, and anxiety. Many circumstances in life cause us to feel hurt, stressed, or angry – emotions that can manifest in different ways for every person. Unless we have learned positive methods for dealing with these emotions, we will continue to experience them or suppress them, ultimately causing more damage to ourselves and to those around us. Therapy teaches you how to process and resolve these and other common issues.
How often should I go to therapy, and for how long?
It is typically most effective for clients to attend one hour-long session per week. The amount of time you remain in therapy depends on your individual issues and goals. Many people find it useful to remain in regular therapy sessions for several years.
What happens in a therapy session?
During a therapy session, you can expect to talk about your primary concerns, struggles, and goals. Your therapist will likely ask you questions about the events happening currently in your life, your personal history, and any progress you have made since your last session.
Individuals who benefit the most from therapy are those who actively participate in the process. Therefore, in addition to your regular therapy sessions, your counselor may give you assignments to complete at home, such as reading certain books, journaling about your issues, or otherwise working on skills relevant to your goals.
How can I convince my spouse to go to therapy with me?
Try approaching your spouse at a time when you are getting along well. Reassure them that you love them and find a kind way to share your needs. Rather than talking about your problems, focus on your feelings and your desire to improve the relationship. Avoid using any language that may sound like you are placing blame. If your spouse refuses to go to therapy, go by yourself. If your spouse is willing to listen, share what you are discussing in therapy sessions and let them know they are always welcome to join you, but do not try to coerce or pressure them. Even if your spouse never agrees to come to therapy, you can still learn and apply many things pertaining to your role in the relationship and how you can make it better.