The Treatment Process

Yes, we have couches!  But, our couches (and chairs) are usually not for laying down on.  No dim lights and we talk to you. No matter what the presenting problem, the professional seeing you for the first time will have lots of questions.  Most of the time, by the end of the first session, we will have helped you (or your child) come up with goals (e.g., if you come to therapy and it works, what would that look like? Problems may not be solved during the first session, but you should leave feeling more comfortable, and hopeful, in addition to setting those defined goals.

Sometimes treatment will involve individual sessions for you, your spouse or your loved one and other times conjoint sessions may be prescribed.  When there are choices in terms of approach, they will be discussed so you may make decisions for yourself. MHBA clinicians offer individual, group and/or conjoint sessions with you, your child, young adult or spouse.  Typically, a three month involvement for therapy is on the quick side and eighteen months is on the long side.  A treatment plan is prescibed and progress is monitored, with adjustments in the treatment plan always open to change.

The most common approaches, aside from examining child management strategies that might be more effective with a child, teen or young adult, are either "cognitive behavioral" or psychodynamic, "process," relationship oriented and your clinician will discuss these approaches with you.

MHBA Therapists offer Counseling and Psychotherapy for Children, Adolescents, Young Adults, Adults, Relationships, Marriages and Families, either via Individual Sessions or Groups. The Psychiatrist practicing within MHBA also offers medication evaluation and management.

Your Therapist will help you, after a diagnostic interview, to set Goals for your therapy.  They will also explain how therapy works and options for therapy approaches. Therapists often differentaite between coming in just to get something off your chest, for child management advice or an opinion versus counseling or psychotherapy.

Disclosure - talking about stress, getting things out, "off one's chest," is an expected, valuable and integral part of the therapy process.

Counseling - advice-giving, as it suggests, is often what is requested of a mental health professional. This is often a reasonable request and the most appropriate "treatment", especially with issues related to parenting.

Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is usually quite different from counseling or advice-giving. Psychotherapy is based on the assumption that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behaviors. These unconscious factors are assumed to create unhappiness, sometimes in the form of discrete, recognizable symptoms and other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work or in love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Because these forces are subconscious, the advice of friends and family, the reading of self-help books, or even "counseling," with the most determined of efforts, often fail to provide significant relief.

Individuals may achieve important satisfaction in their lives - with friends, in marriage, financially, in business, or through special interests and hobbies. Nevertheless, these same successful individuals may be significantly impaired by long-standing symptoms including depression, anxiety, anger, compulsive behavior or distressing thoughts of which no one else is aware, substance abuse, a constricted life of isolation and loneliness with an incapacity to feel close to anyone, a knack for pushing others away, a poor sense of self-worth or insecurity, an inability to trust others, sexual difficulties and repeated failures in work or in love.

These incapacities are most often brought about not by chance but, rather, by unconsciously motivated, self-destructive patterns of behavior causing one's character to substantially limit their choices and pleasures. Always maintaining a profound respect for the uniqueness of each individual, psychotherapy appreciates the persistent power of the irrational of unconscious factors.

Psychotherapy attempts to demonstrate how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, often tracing them back to their historical origins, helping individuals then to deal better with the realities of current adult life. Psychotherapy is an intimate partnership with strictly defined parameters or boundaries in which a variety of feelings, over time, come up between patient and therapist. In the course of the psychotherapeutic relationships, the patient - in dealing with these "transference" feelings - becomes aware and works through the underlying sources of his or her difficulties, not simply on an intellectual level, but more importantly, on an emotional level.

Hopefully, by acknowledging and processing old hurts and by using the knowledge of one's feelings discovered through the therapeutic relationship, patients will free themselves from unnecessary suffering and improve and deepen their capacity for healthy human relationships.

*Descriptions, in part, are taken from brochure of the American Psychoanalytic Association