Archive for Essential to Therapy

Jan
24

Preferences and Concerns in Therapy

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Most therapists leave it up to the client to express any preferences or concerns they might have about therapy.  Usually these come out during the course of the intake evaluation.

Therapy is a Collaborative Process

I have decided to be more direct and proactive in asking about this.  I want clients to know that its okay to express their preferences, and that its normal to have some concerns about therapy.  I want my clients to know that therapy is a collaborative process, and that they should play an active role in the decisions we make about where to focus and how to work on things.

I would encourage any of my clients who didn’t receive the following questionnaire at the beginning of their services to look it over, and to bring up any preferences or concerns they feel are worth mentioning next time they see their therapist.

Preferences and Concerns Questionnaire

Your answers to the following questionnaire can help your therapist to be aware of your preferences in, and concerns about therapy, so that they may provide the most helpful services and address your concerns.

Current Preferences and Priorities

Please indicate how important each of the following preferences is to you by rating each statement according to this scale:

1 = I Don’t Want This
2 = Not Important
3 = Slightly Important
4 = Somewhat Important
5 = Very Important

1. What I want from therapy is for someone to listen to me, understand me, and be emotionally supportive.

2. What I want from therapy is for someone to give me specific advice and concrete ideas for how to deal with my situation.

3. What I want from therapy is to receive information about the problem I am dealing with, so that I can learn to understand and manage it better.

4. What I want from therapy is to focus on solving my problem and making things better for me in the present and future.

5. What I want from therapy is to focus on where my problems came from by exploring my childhood and/or other past experiences.

Concerns or Worries about Therapy

Please indicate how much of a concern each of the following is to you by rating each statement according to this scale:

1 = Not Concerning
2 = Slightly Concerning
3 = Somewhat Concerning
4 = Very Concerning

1. I’m concerned about my therapist’s competence, level of experience, age, and/or expertise.

2. I’m concerned about therapy stirring up painful feelings, memories, issues or conflicts.

3. I’m concerned about possible differences in culture, personality, politics or beliefs between myself and my therapist.

4. I’m concerned about whether therapy is really a helpful, legitimate, and/or useful thing to do.

5. I’m concerned that my therapist could have me hospitalized against my will (if I say I’m at risk of harming myself or others).

6. I’m concerned about logistical barriers to being able to attend therapy (affordability, time, transportation, mobility, technology, etc.)

7. I’m concerned about my privacy and what others might think if they knew I was in therapy.

8. I’m concerned about whether my therapist will be judgmental of me or reject me.

9. I’m concerned about possible consequences of being in therapy (impact on employment, ability to own a firearm, etc.)

Expressing Preferences, Concerns and Feedback to Your Therapist

When you share your thoughts about the above items with your therapist, they can be more effective in respecting your preferences, and in addressing your concerns.  The above items are just a starting point.  If you feel strongly about any of the above items, then you need to talk with your therapist about it, explore what it means to you, and what it means in the context of your therapy.  If your therapist doesn’t have your input about these preferences or concerns, then they can’t know to be specifically considerate of them.

One way that therapy is helpful, is as a microcosm of your relationships in general.  If you have difficulty with giving people feedback or expressing concerns in general, then it will probably be difficult for you to do so in therapy as well.  However, this creates the perfect opportunity for you to practice doing so effectively, in a safe environment, with a supportive and understanding professional.

If you’re afraid how your therapist might react, then start by saying so, and then express your thoughts.  This will give your therapist a chance to prepare themselves for whatever you might say next.  Chances are that talking about your preferences or concerns will improve your therapy experience in the long run.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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