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How effective is psychotherapy?

In a 2006 report to the American Psychological Association, Glen O. Gabbard, MD and Susan G. Lazar, MD compiled research spanning over a decade, reporting that 80% of treated patients are better off at the end of psychotherapy than untreated patients. It was also cited that psychotherapy is effective to a degree that makes it unethical to withhold treatment from patients during clinical trials (Click here to learn more*). Personally, I have found that the most important factor in predicting therapy outcome is a person's willingness to change.

What should I look for in a therapist?

The client-therapist relationship is one of the most important aspects of psychotherapy, often above the therapeutic approach itself. There is no "boss" required, rather partners who work together as equals. While the therapist may be the expert in the process of counseling, you are the expert on you, meaning that a therapist works best as a knowledgeable guide in helping you discover your own solutions. Though therapists may offer confrontation and challenges in order to help you recognize unhealthy patterns, this should never be done in a way that leaves you feeling judged, disrespected, or "scolded." Because this relationship is meant to be a safe place to practice honest communication, your therapist should encourage you to report any concerns you have with the therapy or with him/herself - it is our job to be open to feedback, to manage our own emotions in a professional manner, and to address your concerns. Yes...it turns out we are human (no, really), but we are responsible for taking care of ourselves appropriately so that our personal issues do not interfere with your counseling experience. Choose a therapist who models behaviors you'd like to adopt, not ones you're trying to eliminate. Lastly, as in any other relationship, the most important factor is simply feeling comfortable with a person. This is something that comes independently of the therapist's training, experience, or style and is also something that can be created if it's not present initially by making the therapist aware that you need help feeling more at ease. In the case that a therapist is simply not an effective match for you, it is okay to ask for a referral to another counseling professional. A good therapist will be open to this as a way of, ultimately, helping you get your needs met.

What about the option of medication?

Many studies have shown that, for some mental health issues, the most effective treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Though I do not prescribe medications myself, I work in conjunction with medical professionals at other facilities who specialize in psychiatric medications. Following my initial assessment of an individual's needs, recommendation may be made for medication evaluation, unless you are already satisfied in working with a medical professional of your preference. With your permission, every effort is made to coordinate with other outside professionals who are taking part in your mental health or medical care. Please note that, for those of you who prefer not to take medication, as long as your symptoms are not at such a level as to put you or others at imminent risk, I am very willing to work with you in selecting alternate means of treating your symptoms when they require attention in addition to the scope of psychotherapy.

What if I'm also interested in alternative forms of therapy?

A primary facet of my personal and professional practice is the mind-body relationship. There is not a valid study today that disputes the interrelationship of physiological and emotional balance. Therefore, I maintain relationships with a number of professionals whose practice may assist the process of psychotherapy. This includes massage therapists, acupuncturists, acupressurists, and nutritionalists. I am careful to refer to practitioners who are very professional/ethical in their practice, whose procedures are research-based in nature, and with whom I believe you will achieve a comfortable relationship. Though I may make a referral, it is always your choice to accept or decline.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change."
Charles Darwin, evolution theorist

* Source: http://www.psych.org/

Jennifer Daigle is a licensed counselor offering psychotherapy for individuals, couples therapy, and marriage counseling in a
lovely private practice setting in the heart of Asheville, NC. Call today to schedule your first appointment: 828-225-3040

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