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People of all ages who are trying to find more effective ways of coping with the stress and pain in their lives can benefit from psychotherapy. The following guide is designed to assist you in deciding which is the right kind of therapy for your particular situation.

Initial Meeting

The first meeting is a time for you to explain the concerns in your life and to get a sense of the therapist’s style and manner of relating. If you have a sense of being understood and agree on reasonable goals for treatment, the next step would be to schedule a series of meetings in one of four possible formats. Psychotherapy is offered in individual, group, couple, and family formats.

Individual Psychotherapy

This is offered to older children, adolescents and adults who are experiencing significant distress or disruption in their lives and are seeking more personalized attention to help address their concerns. (For information on treatment for younger children see section on play therapy.) It becomes an opportunity to use the objectivity of the therapist to help sort out the worries, fears, and frustrations associated with their concerns. Working with a therapist in a confidential setting creates new perspectives that lead to a new awareness of the nature of the problem. The therapist then works with the individual to develop and implement plans for change.

Group Psychotherapy

This is offered to children, adolescents and adults who are experiencing significant problems in their life and would benefit from the feedback and support of peers. Group therapy is oriented towards a shared sense of trust and safety among the group members. Problems can be defined and members can challenge each other with the assumption of mutual support and concern. Group then becomes a safe place to try new ways of dealing with social situations and improving self-esteem.

Couples Psychotherapy

This is offered to adults who are experiencing significant problems in their relationship. Meetings are organized around a mutually accepted definition of the problem in the marriage and mutually accepted goals for treatment. The therapist helps the couple to recognize the ways they communicate that interfere with the resolution of their conflict. The sessions then become an opportunity to try different ways of expressing needs and feelings that lead to more productive outcomes.

Family Psychotherapy

This is offered to families who are struggling with conflict among family members. As with the couples therapy the therapist helps the family to recognize communication styles that interfere with the resolution of conflicts. Effort is made to validate each member’s thoughts and feelings while working towards a shared understanding of progress and change in the family as a whole.

written by Peter G. Gross,LCSW

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