Answering Questions from AnswerThePublic.com
There’s no doubt that therapy is becoming more commonplace in our society. The stigma about mental health is decreasing and people feel more willing to talk about their own experiences in therapy. There’s also no doubt that there’s a long way to go. There are a lot of people who are considering therapy for the first time. This naturally means there are a lot of people out there with questions about therapy.
People are asking questions about therapy online
Answerthepublic.com uses data-based insights to look up the most common questions being asked online about a topic. And the results about therapy questions are fascinating. Take a look below and you’ll see almost 100 of the most frequently asked questions about therapy. We’re here to help answer some of those questions about therapy now!
Which therapy is considered the best?
CBT, DBT, EMDR, ACT, CFT! It’s quite the alphabet soup! Each of these acronyms represent a different type, or “modality,” of therapy and there are many more types of therapy than just what I listed here.
There’s not one type of therapy that’s best, but there may be a type of therapy that’s best for you. This depends on so many factors, such as the client’s age, presenting concerns, previous experience in therapy, urgency, safety considerations, and more. As a client, it’s great if you come in knowing what type of therapy you’re interested in. But the truth is, that’s not your responsibility to know exactly what you need! Therapists are there to help you figure it out.
Most therapists practice one or more of these modalities. Combing components of multiple modalities is called “eclectic” therapy. Most therapists will write about how they practice on either their bio information on their practice websites or on therapist directories. They’ll likely also explain what it all means.
When you meet with a therapist for a consultation or intake session, they’ll assess your needs and explain their approach. Together, you’ll determine if it’s a good fit or if it may be necessary to work with a different provider with a different style or expertise. It’s important that you to go into the first session knowing that this is not necessarily your forever match, especially since therapy needs may change over time.
Can therapy make you worse?
This is a very valid concern. Starting therapy feels like a risk because it’s hard to open up to someone new and have challenging conversations that leave you feeling vulnerable. It’s completely normal to feel this way and it’s an important part of the process of starting therapy. In general, therapy is not going to make you worse. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t feel worse before you feel better.
Within the first few sessions, once you and your therapist have begun developing rapport, your therapist might tell you to expect things to feel a little bit worse. This is because we’re starting the process of bringing potentially painful thoughts or events to the surface and beginning to make sense of them. Sometimes these are thoughts that you haven’t ever acknowledged before or sometimes these are descriptions of painful traumas that may have just happened. Either way, it’s challenging to begin exploring these difficult topics and it’s all the more difficult to do it with a new therapist.
I tell my clients that it makes sense to feel a bit worse, because it’s like we just started open heart surgery, but haven’t stitched you back together (which takes time). In the meantime, there is discomfort in sitting in the vulnerable position of opening yourself up and not yet feeling put back together. Your therapist understands this and will work with you to explore your concerns at your own pace.
Are therapy sessions confidential?
And, there are exceptions.
The client-therapist relationship is so special because the our ethical responsibility of confidentiality. This helps clients feel safe to express their true thoughts without fear that it’s going to lead to gossip, get them in trouble, or in any way make them look bad. Therapists are meant to work with you in a non-judgmental fashion, and maintaining confidentiality is a big piece of this. The importance of confidentiality cannot be understated and is taken very seriously.
At the same time, therapists also have an ethical responsibility to keep you and those around you safe. This means that there are some circumstances in which a therapist would need to break confidentiality. Clinicians are required to break confidentiality if we suspect abuse or neglect towards a minor or a “vulnerable” adult (ie disables or elderly). We must report this to protective services for them to investigate the matter in order to help keep a vulnerable person safe. Similarly, clinicians also must disclose instances in which there is imminent danger of a client hurting themselves or hurting others.
There could also be a need to release information or records when therapists are legally compelled to do so. The nuance of this changes by state.
This is only a basic overview of confidentiality. Your therapist will talk with you about this in detail during your first session and if you have questions, please ask! The Maryland Department of Health is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about confidentiality in therapy.
Can therapy help social anxiety?
When you look at the questions in the graphic, you see that people ask if therapy can help with just about anything. The fact that therapy can help with social anxiety is particularly important me because it’s one of the concerns my colleagues and I specialize in.
Social anxiety can cause people to hold back from doing the things they want to do. This includes join clubs, reaching out to friends, going to parties, asking questions in class, and so much more.
Social anxiety is real! It is more common that one might think. And it’s a normal way to feel about new or unfamiliar situations. These feelings aren’t always problematic if it doesn’t hold you back from your important life goals.
All that being said, if you feel that social anxiety IS holding you back, it can also be something to work on. There are many roots of social anxiety. Often times, social anxiety comes from a fear of how others are perceiving you. These fears can be based in past experiences, assumptions we’re making, or it even be based in genetics. In most cases, it is a combination of these and many other factors.
Therapists use a variety of techniques or interventions to help improve social anxiety. To me, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist is seeing clients take risks and reaping the benefits of “putting themselves out there.”
Heck, just coming to therapy is good exposure to that anxiety in the first place!
What to do when therapy isn’t enough?
I am a believer in therapy. And therapy alone is not the answer to all things. It’s important to recognize that both statements can be true at the same time.
For many people, therapy is the only intervention they seek to help them feel better or improve their mental health. For others people, it’s one of several interventions that help. And that’s ok! No two mental health journeys are the same. When therapy alone is not enough to meet your goals, there could be other resources to consider, such as psychiatry, support groups, books, apps, meditation, school accommodations and all sorts of other things.
Your therapist knows that they’re just one piece of the pie when it comes to meeting your goals. A good therapist should be happy to work with you to help you access other resources and collaborate with other providers as well.
Why is therapy good for everyone?
Glad you asked! Everyone can benefit from therapy! Even if it’s just for preventative care. Check out more about preventative care in my previous blogs here!
About The Author
Alex Bleiweis, LMSW is a licensed social worker and Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville and Olney, MD. He earned his Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 2021, where he was named student of the Year. He training is rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Among his many strengths, Alex specializes in treating young adults and professionals, career concerns, and process addictions such as gambling problems and technology addictions.