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Important Information to Read About Benefits and Risks of Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy is a professional relationship between you and your therapist, devoted to your self-growth and well being. Reducing your emotional pain, reducing your symptoms, improving relationships, or changing your behavior or lifestyle may be parts of that goal. The therapeutic relationship is not a social relationship, and therapists are discouraged from providing psychotherapy to individuals with whom they have personal or social connections. Psychotherapy rarely, if ever, involves physical contact other than a handshake. Personal relationships, especially intimate relationships, are inappropriate and possibly illegal both during and after therapy has ended. Although you may feel very close to your therapist, please understand that the boundaries they place on the relationship are a necessary part of psychotherapy and put in place as a protection to clients.


Therapy does not have to be, but for some people, can be difficult work. You may learn to pay attention to your thoughts, your feelings, and your relationships; to honestly acknowledge them, including feelings you may wish you never had! You may work with unwanted aspects of yourself, to learn to feel painful things and to face painful realities; to talk candidly and respectfully with people you’d rather avoid; to accept difficult but inevitable situations; to confront frightening but important realities. The therapist may guide and support you during this process, but ultimately the work is done by you. Research has shown that most of the common approaches to therapy are about equally successful in achieving therapeutic goals. In general, psychotherapy clients are better off after therapy than they were before it, and they are better off after therapy than 80% of untreated persons. Sometimes, the benefits of psychotherapy can be enhanced by medications designed to decrease depression or anxiety symptoms, in which case, you can discuss this with Julie and she will provide referrals to psychiatrists.


There are potential risks to psychotherapy. People may feel worse as the therapy progresses. At times Julie will have to say things to you that you might find difficult to hear. It is not uncommon for people attending psychotherapy to find themselves in recurring destructive patterns and  making life choices that are impeding their forward progress to happiness and success. In these cases, Julie will say things to you that are hard to hear. That might include something like quitting an addiction or reducing negative thought patterns. In rare cases, psychotherapy may even trigger some people to have thoughts about wanting to hurt themselves or end their lives. When this happens, Julie will aim to help you understand and cope with these feelings safely, and can direct therapy to be more supportive until you are feeling stronger. It is always important that you tell your therapist if you are having any frightening, or dangerous thoughts and feelings, or if you are considering harming yourself or someone else.  


Therapy can complicate your life. Therapy is often about making changes, or about looking at yourself differently. Therapy can change how you live and it can change how you feel about your relationships. Julie will aim to help you to anticipate these changes and will allow you the process to determine what changes are best for you, and when. Some clients develop strong positive, or negative feelings about their therapists. This is especially true in longer therapies. Such feelings are normal, even if sometimes uncomfortable or confusing. Any feelings are possible, and the rule for them all is to talk them over with the therapist.  Discussing these feelings with Julie will provide you an opportunity to understand how this is part of your process.


Psychotherapy is not free and for many there is a personal financial cost. Julie does not take insurance, but depending on your policy, you may bill your insurance company for her services as an out-of-network provider. Julie will be required to provide a diagnosis and may need to submit a report outlining what you are working on and how long it is likely to take to achieve your goals. If there is anything you wish to discuss in therapy that you do not want shared with anyone, including your insurance company, please discuss this with Julie. Finally, not all therapy is effective. If you have been in therapy and it does not feel like you are making progress, you should speak to Julie. It may be that you are having difficulty with the treatment goals, you might do better with a different approach to therapy, or even with a different therapist. As therapists, we know that we cannot be everything to everybody, and we are comfortable helping you make a change if needed.

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