What can I expect during our first meeting?
A therapist views the first session as an opportunity to review and assess an individual’s current challenges and circumstances. Questions about what brought you to therapy, current symptoms experienced, family of origin, education, career will be asked by your therapist. Depending on your issues and therapeutic goals, therapy can last a few sessions or several weeks or longer. This is the first step in getting perspective so that you can ‘course correct’ the navigation of your life.
Further steps include familiarizing oneself with patterns of thought, facing unresolved disappointments and emotional history, so as to integrate and rise above both real and self-imposed limitations. The groundwork is then laid for discovering aspects of self that were not fully accessible in the past. The overarching term that describes the entire endeavor is ‘awareness’ – raising it and applying insights to improving all aspects of one’s life.
How do I know if I’m depressed?
Everyone feels sad, or even miserable, at times. Usually, experiencing sadness is a natural reaction to bad news or other events that concern us. Sadness, however, is a temporary response to things that trouble us and we are eventually able to bounce back and continue on with our daily routine.
Depression can be a much more serious, unhealthy state when a person feels overwhelmed, or unable to find any pleasure and interest in things they once enjoyed.
If you think you might be depressed, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do activities, friends, or possessions that gave you pleasure before no longer provide you comfort or a sense of well-being?
- Have you gained or lost a significant amount of weight in the last month? (e.g., 7% of the weight of a 150 pound person is equal to weight gain or loss of about 10 pounds)
- Are you sleeping too much or too little compared with one month ago?
- Do you find it difficult to fulfill basic duties, roles, or responsibilities in the domains of family, work, or social life?
- Are you crying uncontrollably for periods of time throughout the day?
How do I know if I should seek treatment for anxiety?
Anxiety can range from mild everyday stress to a chronic state of unease and restlessness. This constant state of being “on edge” is also known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder if it has persisted more days than not for six months. While a certain amount of anxiety is unavoidable in life, if the amount of stress outweighs one’s ability to cope with it, then the situation becomes unmanageable causing undue distress.
If you think you might need treatment for anxiety, ask yourself these questions:
- Has your intake of alcohol increased over the last month?
- Do you find it difficult to fall asleep after your head hits the pillow? (e.g., you lie awake for more than 30 minutes before falling asleep)
- Do you find yourself overthinking problems or repeatedly replaying conversations with family, friends, or authority figures in your mind?
- Do you find yourself disturbed or distracted by intrusive thoughts?
- Are you more restless than usual? (e.g., fidgeting, smoking, biting fingernails / pens / pencils)?
- Do some of your thoughts escalate into images of catastrophe?
- Are you concerned that ‘thinking of doing something’ may be the moral equivalent of having done it?
- Do you awaken in the middle of the night and then have difficulty falling back asleep?
How can you help with substance abuse and addiction?
Substance abuse and addiction are sometimes symptoms of underlying psychological distress. Chemical dependency can be linked to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, despair, or a lack of fulfillment in life. Psychotherapy assists clients in identifying what emotional needs are being met through the addiction so they can begin to find healthier ways of meeting those needs.
It is important to note that not all addictions are drug related. Addiction can also manifest itself through behaviors such as gambling, shopping, internet overuse, and sexual compulsions/impulsivity, to name just a few. Treatments can be tailored to address the specific struggles of the individual.
Sometimes, clients will also need to be under psychiatric care if medication is required to decrease cravings and/or restore chemical balance in the brain.
What is CBT?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on recognizing unhealthy, maladaptive thoughts and replacing these with healthier, rational thinking. This approach involves the identification of cognitive distortions, which are maladaptive thinking styles such as all-or-nothing thinking, magnification, catastrophizing, and overgeneralizing, among others. These inaccurate thoughts can reinforce habitual negative ways of thinking and interacting with others, keeping us caught in self-destructive and unfulfilling patterns.
What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that have resulted from disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy, people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that might have taken years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.
Evidence-based research shows that EMDR therapy can in fact heal the individual from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block has been removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.