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Q: What should I expect from therapy? What do I look for? Where do I start?

This question is such a large and important one, we have given it its own page. DemystifyingTherapy/Counseling or as we like to call it, the red couch page can give you a brief overview of all these questions and more!

Q: What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy is a type of psychotherapy.  Instead of traditional talk therapy, it uses a combination of art, music, writing, movement, and play.  Of course, there is talking involved, but it is a great alternative for people who are not comfortable talking or discussing their feelings.  It also opens doors for individuals who are non-verbal.

Q: But what if I am not good at any of those creative things?

Everyone asks this and truthfully, it does not matter.  It is just a technique we use and if that is not for you we also use many others.  Overall, meeting with an expressive arts therapist gives you more options than traditional therapy with someone who is trained in "thinking outside the box."

Q: Why should I bother going to therapy?

Well, there are many reasons, but here are a few... Personally, I love therapy (though,admittedly, I am biased.)  I love being able to go to a neutral person, discuss my issues, and then leave.  Talking with a therapist is different than talking to a friend because they are trained, you do not have to have a relationship with them (aka they should not expect anything in return,) and you do not see them in your everyday life.  You can tell them whatever you want, and ethically, if they see you on the street, they are not allowed to acknowledge you unless you acknowledge them.  Talking with friends and family is great and important, but a therapist is trained to be impartial and non-judgmental.  Therapy does not have to only be about the past, it is also about your future, your goals, and the life you want for yourself.

Q: I have tried therapy before and I don't think it works.  It seems like things get worse.
There are a few parts to this.  The first is that therapy can work if you are ready to do the work.  It is not magic, it is actually hard work, so it takes time and focus.  Because it is hard work, it is not always pleasant, which is turns people off.  The rewards are high, but it is difficult and not always fun.

The second is a reminder that things generally get worse before they get better.  For instance, when you start to clean out a closet, you empty the closet, make a huge mess, and then have the task of reorganizing and getting everything back into it.  The same applies to therapy.  For example, you might begin to parent your child differently, which then they turn and rebel harder until the message sinks in.  Now the time it takes for the child to get the message might be quite unpleasant, however getting your child to a better place is most likely worth the struggle.  "Time takes Time," as they say, and that is very true.

Q: Are there any good therapists out there?  I have not met any that I like!
It is true, there are good and bad therapists out there and finding the right one is often a difficult process.  But again, there are many rewards to finding the right match for you.  I have met with many therapists that I have not "clicked" with in my time and have found it very frustrating.  However, when I finally found what I was looking for, I can honestly say that it was worth not giving up.

If you are interested in this question you might like this article I have written, entitled Therapist Shopping.

Q: Your answers make it sound like you have been in therapy.  Do I want a therapist that goes to therapy?

In one word, YES!  I was trained in my masters program that a therapist should absolutely go to therapy.  There are three main reasons why, which I will share:

  • In order to be an good therapist, it is essential to understand what it is like to be a client.  If I can not put myself in a vulnerable position, how could I dare to ask someone else to?  I ask myself, would I really want to see a therapist who believes they are above what they preach.  I answer in a resounding no!  We must "practice what we preach," or " If you are going to talk the talk, you must walk the walk."  Whatever the cliche, the message is the same, I want my therapist to be empathetic and understand how I am feeling as closely as they can.

  • As a therapist, we hear many struggles and people's stories.  Having a supervisor and a therapist can help a therapist cope with their own feelings.  Again, your therapy session should be about you and your needs.  If your therapist does not have a place to look at their own feelings they run the risk of letting it seep into your sessions.  I feel this is not only not helpful but is also extremely unethical.  Your therapist is there to serve you and they should do what is necessary to make sure they can do that to the best of their ability.

  • The last reason is simple.  Therapy works.  Why should I deny myself the chance to learn, grow, and how to get the best out of life.  Again, I would not want to go to a therapist that does not love therapy! That would make as much sense as going out on a boat with a captain that is afraid of the water.

Q: What is Family Constellations?

This question has also become its own page!  See our Family Constellations page for information, videos, links to additional resources, and more!
Maria Mitchell