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What is therapy?

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What therapy is not:

Therapy with a psychologist or therapist does not mean you are “crazy,” or, in some way “damaged.” In fact, most people who come to therapy are everyday people with concerns such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and relation- ship issues. Generally, therapy is helpful for people who feel “stuck” in some aspect of their lives.

What can I expect?

You can probably expect to feel nervous about going to therapy for the first time. Most people feel uncomfortable or on guard when they first talk with a therapist. Just like it takes time to trust a new acquaintance, it will take time to trust the therapist.

Therapy is not like a medical doctor visit. Instead, it calls for a very active effort on your part. Because therapy is very different than a standard medical appointment, your role will be different. Taking a “leap of faith” and beginning to speak about your inner experience, including your thoughts and feelings, will help your psychologist/ therapist to better understand you and know how to help.

Part of being active in therapy includes setting goals with your therapist. Treatment goals allow both you and the therapist to know whether you are address- ing the problems that are most important to you. Often, treatment goals will focus on things such as expressing feelings, understanding patterns of thinking, gaining perspective on past events

and current relationships, changing behaviors, and learning skills to help you live a healthier life, both in mind and body.

Benefits and risks:

Since therapy involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, helplessness, or loneliness, particularly at first. People often have a temporary worsening of symptoms while these things are being explored. These symptoms will improve, and therapy has been show to have benefits for people who see it through.

How can therapy help with physical pain?

People some- times feel intimidated to be referred to a psychologist/therapist when they have pain. First, it is important to know that your pain is very real. The recommendation for therapy is not because we don’t believe your pain is real, but instead, to help you cope with all the ways pain can affect your life. Therapy can help by improving your coping, as well as assisting with associated mood changes that almost always accompany chronic pain, such as depression and anxiety. Education can sometimes be a part of visits, including learning about chronic pain and how you can be an active participant in your pain management. This may involve stress manage- ment and a better understanding of the connection between the mind and body.