How do I talk to my friends and family about being in therapy?

When you decide to go into therapy, it’s natural to have mixed feelings. You may be feeling embarrassed, anxious, uncomfortable, sad, angry for needing therapy and proud of yourself for taking a positive step toward taking control of the situation.  You may question whether you should tell your friends and family that you are in therapy, and if you do tell them, what you should tell them.

You find that it is easier to work on your personal problems by yourself, providing time and space to reflect. In this case, you may decide not to tell others that you are in therapy. In other situations, it may be important to tell a partner, for example, if you are working on a problem that is affecting your interpersonal relationship. Telling your partner that you are working on the problem may create a way for him or her to become more supportive of the healing process. Your partner may even decide to join you in therapy.

How do I talk to my child about going into therapy?

You should prepare your child before the first therapy session so he or she will know what to expect. It is important to be honest about why your child and/or family will be going to therapy. Talking to kids before their first appointment will reassure them that the entire family is working together on the problem and will keep them from feeling singled out or isolated.

For young children, explain that the therapist talks to and plays with kids and families to help them solve their problems and help them feel better. It may help the child feel more secure to know that the therapist will be helping the entire family, not just the child. For older kids and teens, reassure them that anything they say to the therapist is confidential and cannot be shared with anyone else, including parents or other doctors, without their permission (except for thoughts of hurting themselves or others).

What is individual therapy like?

In individual therapy, we work with you one-on-one to identify useful ways to deal with your concerns. Then, we set goals and plan an appropriate therapy. This process usually takes one to three sessions with your therapist. Individual therapy focuses on your concerns guided by one or more established therapy methods. Most likely, you would meet with your therapist once a week, although sometimes it works better to meet more often. Sessions are 45 minutes long.

What is family therapy?

Family therapy, also referred to as “family systems therapy,” is a branch of psychotherapy that works to nurture change and development within families or couples in intimate relationships. This therapy emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.

Family therapists may focus on patterns of interaction that maintain the family problem rather than trying to identify a specific cause, so that there is no “blaming” taking place while solving the issue the family faces. This type of therapy assumes that the family as a whole is larger than the sum of its parts. As with individual therapy, techniques may be used from several disciplines.

How does group therapy work?

Group therapy is one of the most affordable and dynamic ways of resolving inner conflict, gaining insight, and improving your self-esteem and relationships. Group psychotherapy is a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. The therapy is widely used and has been a standard treatment option for over 50 years. Group psychotherapy works because people are social beings.We live and interact in families, schools, work environments, teams, etc…

Group therapy provides a place where you come together with others to share problems or concerns, to better understand your own situation, and to learn from and with each other. Group therapy helps people learn about themselves and improve their interpersonal relationships. It addresses feelings of isolation, depression, or anxiety, and it helps people make significant changes so that they feel better about the quality of their lives.

Is empathy important in therapy?

Often, not only do people have emotional troubles, but they feel bad about having emotional problems. It is important that a person feels understood. This is empathy.

As a therapist, my responsibility to make my clients understand that their feelings are within my grasp to understand and that those feelings are shared by others. Having that connection is vital to addressing the underlying problems. Once a person feels understood, they can work to address their concerns.

How might medication be used in conjunction with therapy?

From coping through crisis . . . seeking help is the first step toward healing. Medication may be used as a part of therapy. While medicating may seem like a major step, it is not. Everything we ingest contributes to the chemical balances in our bodies and minds.

There are times when a person’s body does not produce sufficient amounts of one substance or too much of another. It is not surprising that our body chemistry may become out of balance. Add a chemical imbalance to an emotional issue, and you often have a situation in which medication is used to supplement therapy.

Does your practice offer workshops?

Yes. From time to time, we offer special workshops for every age group. Watch our newsletter and this page for more details.

Right now, we have openings in our weekly dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills groups. Contact us today if you are interested. Here are some details:

  • Date/time:
    • Adult group meets every Saturday from 3-4:30 p.m.
    • Adolescent group meets every Wednesday from 7:30-9 p.m.
  • Cost: $50 per session, covered by most insurances.
  • Therapist: Shannon Barello Crayton, LCSW

More about DBT:

  • DBT is a treatment modality developed in 1993 by Marsha Linehan for individuals who struggle with regulating their emotions. In an environment of acceptance and compassion, tangible coping skills are taught in an effort to help clients achieve a more fulfilling life.
  • DBT is an evidence-based treatment proven effective with many debilitating symptoms, including: depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, mood swings, angry outbursts, low self-esteem, self-mutilation and suicidal ideation.
  • DBT is being used with great success around the world and was recently listed in TIME Magazine’s 100 Greatest Scientific Discoveries of 2011. DBT is also supported by the Virginia Commission on Youth as a valid evidence-based treatment effective with youth.
  • DBT addresses the relationship between the individual and her environment (family, school, peers). It aims to replace problem behaviors with skillful behaviors, and it helps people create a life worth living.
What forms should I complete to get started?

See the Contact page for downloadable forms.