Individual Therapy Services

My greatest expertise and the most frequent treatment that I provide is individual therapy.  If you would like to start in individual therapy, just call 708-429-6999, extension 229, or e-mail me.  Feel free to contact me with any questions as well.

What follows is some basic information about individual therapy.  For a list of my areas of focus, please see Conditions Treated.

What is individual therapy?

Individual therapy is probably the most common type of therapy, in which one individual meets with a therapist on a regular basis to discuss that individual’s issues.  This is as opposed to couples therapy, family therapy or group therapy.

My job as a therapist is to help you feel better, to understand yourself and others, to cope more effectively, to change bad habits, to make difficult decisions, to improve your relationships, and to set and work toward goals, etc.   Each patient is unique, and therefore each patient’s therapy experience will be unique.

What to expect when starting therapy:

I usually start with an intake evaluation, lasting two to four sessions.  The first session is an opportunity for you to express your concerns, for us to get to know each other a little, and for you to ask any questions that you may have. I will then give you an intake questionnaire to fill out, asking questions about your stressors, current and past symptoms, mental health history, relationships, lifestyle, medical factors, and coping methods, in order to clarify your strengths, concerns, diagnosis, and various factors that may be affecting you.  We will review and discuss the questionnaire in the second and sometimes also the third session, depending on how much detail we go into.

Once the issues have been described, then I will develop an intake summary and treatment plan.  We will set specific goals to work toward, decide how often to meet (most people start out weekly), and for how long.  This is a collaborative process, as is all of therapy.  The therapist and the patient work together, rather than the therapist doing something “to” the patient.  Treatment is voluntary and you have a say in what we work on and how we work on it.

What happens in a therapy session?

Once the treatment plan is in place, then the meetings will focus on your efforts to achieve your goals, to cope with week to week stressors and events, and to improve your life-satisfaction.  I will provide a warm and accepting therapeutic environment, with guidance and encouragement to examine yourself honestly and to help you make changes when necessary.

A typical therapy session will start with a brief check-in to see how you’re doing that week, a review of any homework or goals from the previous week, and then focus on the issue that is most important to you that week.  I will ask you to describe your experiences, thoughts and feelings about that issue, and how you are coping with it.  We may just explore the issue, in an effort to understand it better, or we may problem solve about it.  I may sometimes present information about specific tools, skills or ideas that may help you.  At the end, I will ask you to set a goal for yourself for the coming week, or I may suggest a homework assignment like reading an article, keeping an emotion log, or practicing a new behavior.

Reviewing Your Progress and the Effectiveness of Treatment

As therapy continues, it is helpful for me to know when something is particularly helpful or not helpful.  Your ongoing feedback will help to guide therapy in a productive and positive direction.

Also, at a previously agreed upon time (usually every three months), you and I will review your progress on the treatment plan.  This is an opportunity for you to decide whether to continue, how often, for how long, and whether you want to make any changes in your goals or approach to therapy.

If for any reason you are not satisfied with the therapy you are receiving, the first step is to let me know.  Often, by working together and communicating openly, we can resolve whatever wasn’t working, and you can get more out of the therapy experience.  If you feel that you and I just don’t click, then you can ask for a referral to another therapist.  Although it can feel a little awkward to ask for a referral, this is absolutely appropriate and okay to do.  The most important thing is that you get the services you need from a therapist you feel comfortable with.  And remember, therapy is voluntary, so you can decide to stop at any time.

Wrapping Up Individual Therapy

Once you feel that you’ve made enough progress, or if you want to stop therapy for any reason, then you have several options for wrapping up therapy.

If you decide to stop suddenly, it is customary (and clinically recommended) to do at least one closing session.  During this session you can review your progress, and discuss how you can continue working on your issues outside of therapy.

Some people like to stop gradually, by meeting less and less frequently until they are ready to stop altogether.  Others like to schedule a follow up appointment for one month down the road, so that they can check in and make sure they’re maintaining their progress.

After you’ve stopped therapy, you may sometimes find yourself in a stressful situation.  When this happens you can schedule a booster session, or a short series of sessions.  This can help you to remember the skills and strategies you learned in therapy, and can give you a little extra support through a stressful situation.

Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about therapy.  There is no obligation, and I’m happy to help answer your questions.  You can reach me at 708-429-6999, extension 229.  Or you can e-mail me through the contact page on this website.

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