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About Therapy and Counseling...

As a therapist who’s been working in this field for many years, I know how tough it is to go through each day not having the confidence and hope that things will get better. As a counselor with experience working with many people who have struggled with relationship difficulties, depression and anxiety, or difficult pasts, I love being part of a process that can help you see that life, relationships, and how you feel about your self can improve.

We live in a society that sometimes leaves us learning lessons that aren’t so supportive of us having satisfying relationships, healthy connections with others, and undermines our ability to feel good about who we are. Time after time I encounter good people as clients who without realizing it, stand in their own way of achieving their goals and readily sacrifice their own needs to put others ahead. This can leave them feeling depressed and believing that they didn’t deserve more.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be a selfish act. We can be loving and caring towards others while still making time for ourselves. I hope that my work will help change some of those dynamics that get in your way of being good to yourself and achieving the life you want; or to create a good balance between your self care and healthy commitment and devotion to those you love.

How can Relationship Counseling happen with only One Person?

Many people are not in happy relationships but their partners either aren’t interested in coming to counseling or maybe they don’t want their partners to come because they would like to work on themselves and perhaps figure out as much as they can on their own. Self exploration regarding how you are in relationships can be achieved individually. You can learn how to stop patterns that are getting in your way of achieving a healthy relationship. When you take time to feel good, you will be more likely to draw in people who are good for you!

What Can you Expect From Our Sessions? In my Ann Arbor office I provide relationship counseling and individual counseling. When you come to counseling you will experience a supportive, warm environment where you can feel safe to explore your thoughts and feelings. As a counselor and licensed professional, my role is to be your support person, provide insight, reflect what I hear, point out patterns that I see, offer information that might help, and provide, at times, some needed humor and perspective. Counseling is tailored to the individual and as a result I use a variety of approaches to suit client needs.

Common Misconceptions about Counseling or Therapy:

Seeing a counselor does not mean that you are mentally ill or "crazy."

In addition to addressing more serious emotional problems, counseling can help with:

life transitions; adjusting to new surroundings

difficulty juggling school, work, family, and other responsibilities

academic problems, difficulty in test-taking and/or test anxiety

struggles with self-esteem, communication, or assertiveness

relationship problems

Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.

FACT: It takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and painful experiences. Individuals who enter counseling are taking a first step in resolving their difficulties.

Going to counseling means that I'm helpless. FACT:Going to counseling is a way of taking control and helping yourself. Talking to a counselor is a great way to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make changes to improve your quality of life.

If I go for counseling, the faculty or administration will hear about it. FACT:The things you discuss with any counselor and the contents of your counseling record are subject to strict legal and ethical standards of confidentiality and privacy. This means that counselors will not release any information, or even the fact that they have met with you, to anyone (including parents, professors, friends, or school administration) without your permission. There are, however, a few limits on confidentiality. These are described in Confidentiality and reviewed during your first appointments.

The fact that I've had counseling may hurt me in job, residency or graduate school applications. FACT: Counseling records are kept separately from academic records and are protected by law. Release of any information is permitted only after a student provides written consent, or in certain legal situations involving a subpoena or court order. For medical students: The standard application for the ACGME match does not require you to provide information about physical or mental health treatment or concerns. Please talk to your counselor or advisory dean if you have concerns about this during the application process.

The counselor cannot understand me unless s/he has had similar experiences or is of the same background. FACT: Individual reactions to the same event or experience vary widely, but basic human emotions are the same across individuals and cultures. Counselors are trained to be sensitive to and respectful of individual differences, including specific concerns of students with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

The counselor will tell me whow to "fix" my problems. FACT: Counseling is not a quick cure for your problems. The counselor is there to help you explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns; to examine your options; and to assist you in achieving the goals you have set.

Counseling doesn't work. FACT: There is a large body of research that documents the benefits of counseling and therapy. Even if you have had an unsuccessful counseling experience in the past, it may be worth trying again.

Change will happen quickly. FACT: Important changes often take time and energy in order to occur. Although many people feel some relief and improved mood after only a couple of sessions, counseling will not provide a quick fix to your problems. Counseling can help you work toward meaningful life change over the long term, in addition to helping you manage current difficulties more effectively.

The Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy

Although the terms counseling and therapy are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between psychotherapy and psychological counseling. Counseling focuses on specific issues and is designed to help a person address a particular problem, such as addiction or stress management. The focus may be on problem solving or on learning specific techniques for coping with or avoiding problem areas.

Counseling is also usually more short-term than therapy. Psychotherapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person's patterns of thinking and unconscious awareness affect the way that person interacts with the world. The goal is to uncover those patterns and become aware of their effect and then learn new, healthier ways to think and interact.

Types of Psychotherapy

There are numerous approaches to psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, from which mental health professionals draw their treatment practices. Different types of psychotherapies are often better-suited to specific types of problems. For example, some psychotherapies are designed mainly to treat disorders like depression or anxiety, while others focus more on helping people overcome problems with relationships or obstacles to greater life satisfaction. Some forms of psychotherapy are one-on-one with a therapist, while others are group-based or family-based. According to the American Psychological Association, those approaches fall into five broad categories.

Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapies. The idea behind this kind of therapy is that people's lives are affected by unconscious issues and conflicts. The goal of the therapist is to help the person bring those issues to a conscious level where they can be understood and dealt with. This may involve analyzing dreams or exploring a person's personal history.

Behavioral Therapy. This approach to therapy focuses on learning and behavior in an effort to change unhealthy behavioral patterns. Some therapists try to help patients learn new associations by using a system of reward and punishment to bring about certain behavioral changes. Another approach might involve a controlled series of exposures to a phobia trigger to desensitize a person to an unreasonable fear.

Cognitive Therapy or CBT. The emphasis in cognitive therapy is on a person's thoughts. The idea is that dysfunctional thinking is what leads to dysfunctional emotions or behaviors. The goal is to help the person recognize unhealthy thinking patterns and to recognize and change inaccurate beliefs.

Humanistic Therapy. This approach to therapy is based on the idea that people are capable of making rational choices and developing their maximum potential. This approach to therapy is often client centered, with the client being seen as the authority on what is going on inside.

Integrative or Holistic Therapy. This approach relies on integrating multiple approaches to therapy based on the client's individual needs. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy is a combination of the two individual therapies and focuses on both thought and behavior.

Getting Started With a Mental Health Professional

Finding the right mental health professional and the right approach to therapy is as important as finding the right medical doctor. Whether you are planning to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist or another type of mental health professional, you should start with a phone call to the professional.

Ask about the professional’s approach to dealing with counseling issues and how he or she generally works with clients. Ask about whether or not he or she accepts insurance and how payments are handled. You might describe your reason for wanting to make an appointment and ask if he or she is experienced in dealing with such issues. If you are comfortable talking with him or her, the next step is to make an appointment.

At your first office visit, the therapist will want to talk with you about why you think you need to come to therapy. He or she will want to know about what your symptoms are, how long you've had them and what, if anything, you've done about them in the past. He or she will probably ask you about your family and your work as well as what you do to relax. This initial conversation is important in developing the appropriate approach to treatment.

Before you leave the office, your therapist should have described to you a general plan for treatment and give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have. It will likely take several weeks before you become fully comfortable with your therapy. If you still aren't feeling comfortable after two or three visits, let the mental health professional know and explain why you feel that way. The two of you need to work together as a team in order to get the most out of your treatment.

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