Questions About Therapy
by Janet E. Akyol, MFT
Can Psychotherapy Help?
There are times in most of our lives when an issue arises that can knock us off balance and leave us feeling anxious, worried, sad, depressed, or overwhelmed. This can be a very lonely place. You may find that your usual coping mechanisms fail, and you may feel stuck, unable to change things on your own; you may even lose hope. However, you are not alone and there is help available to you. In psychotherapy you can get the support you need, and acquire new tools to help you overcome life's challenges. At other times in our lives, we may wish to optimize our life experience and find ways to move into a new way of being, whether that be in our career, learning or relationships. We seek counseling for personal growth and to further develop and enrich our existence.
I believe that psychotherapy can help, that's why I do this work, that's why I love this work. In a warm, understanding, non-judgmental, and supportive environment you can get the help you need to gently find your way back to coping with what life has handed you. You can explore your options, gain new insight and feel more confident about yourself and the choices you make. Therapy could help you put your life back in balance. In addition, you can explore how to make the life you have even richer. However, it is by no means the answer for everybody.
Is Psychotherapy Confidential?
All communications between the clients and the therapist, and written records pertaining to those communications, are kept in strict confidence, unless the client signs a written authorization to release information. However, in certain instances therapists are legally obliged to break confidentiality, and are allowed to break confidentiality, examples include:
- Suspected child abuse, dependent adult abuse, or elder abuse.
- If a client threatens serious bodily harm to another person(s).
- The client is suicidal, or in some other way a danger to self.
- The therapist is ordered by a court.
- Under the Patriot Act.
For more information, please see the Services & Disclosure document in the Forms section.
How Long Will It Take?
In all honesty I can't say. It depends on the presenting problem, and on the individual. Each person is unique, each person has their own pace, and we honor all of these considerations. At the beginning of therapy, after an assessment period, your therapist would be glad to discuss this further with you, and the client and therapist can collaboratively come to a decision. Our goal is to bring you relief as quickly as possible! However, we do this in an ethical, respectful and healthy way.
Will Therapy Work For Me?
Therapy works for many people, but will it work for you? I don't know YOU, so I can't say. There are so many variables. Your therapist's job is to provide you with the tools to do the work. Note, your therapist provides the tools, or tells you where to find the tools, and you use the tools and do the work! It is my view that therapy is not a passive experience. Making changes takes dedication and focus on your part. For 50 minutes per week your therapist provides a supportive place in which you can explore your goals, options, situations and he/she can impart their clinical knowledge and experience. The therapist and client collaborates together about the best way to move forward, or he/she sits with you through you not wanting to make the changes you came in thinking you wanted to make, or with being stuck, or with seeking alternate treatment options/providers. Either way, we are with you along the way providing support, encouragement and positive regard. In the beginning of therapist/client collaboration, the therapist will assess your situation and using their clinical knowledge and experience they share with you what they feel would be beneficial, appropriate options for you. However, remember, this is a collaboration; you will never be pushed to do something that doesn't feel right to you.
Therapy is like learning to play a musical instrument. Usually the trained professional, the music teacher, teaches the student how to play a variety of notes, provides the student with ways other people have successfully learned to play that particular instrument before, how to care for their instrument, how much they need to practice, gives lots of encouragement and hope, and so on. Ultimately, the student must go home and practice, practice, practice, implementing and incorporating the new learning, forming new habits and attaining new skills. Over time the student may learn to play a tune or so, may learn to play a symphony, or give up and thus may never learn to play at all. Along the way to learning to play, the student will no doubt hit many wrong notes, it will feel awkward, unnatural, frustrating and perhaps feel like an insurmountable task at times. The student may also find it enjoyable, rewarding and fulfilling in ways never even realized. It may open up life to a whole new way. The novice musician may also decide they never wanted to learn this after all, and it is not for them. The student alone must determine whether the amount of work-to-reward ratio is enough of a motivator to keep going. As you can see, there are so many variables, all individual to the person seeking to learn. Let's not also forget the financial investment in acquiring a new skill. For the therapist's part, we show up prepared to provide our service in a supportive, collaborative, professional way, to share tools and to be encouraging and hopeful along the way, as well as keeping our skills up-to-date by continuing to learn.
Are There Risks & Benefits to Therapy?
Yes, absolutely. Psychotherapy is a process in which the therapist and the client(s), discuss a myriad of issues, events, experiences and memories for the purpose of creating positive change for the client(s). It provides an opportunity to better, and more deeply understand oneself, as well as any problems or difficulties the client(s) may be experiencing. Psychotherapy is a joint effort between the client(s) and the therapist. Progress and success will vary depending upon the particular problems or issues being addressed, as well as many other unique factors of the person, their presenting issues and situation.
Participating in therapy may result in a number of benefits to the client, such as reduced stress and anxiety, a decrease in negative thoughts and self-sabotaging behaviors, improved interpersonal relationships, increased comfort in social, school, and family settings, and increased self-confidence and self-worth. Such benefits usually require substantial effort on the part of the client, as well as his/her caregivers and/or family members, including an active participation in the therapeutic process, honesty, and a willingness to change feelings, thoughts and behaviors. There is no guarantee that therapy will yield any or all of the benefits listed above.
Participating in therapy may also involve some discomfort, including remembering and discussing unpleasant events, feelings and experiences. This discomfort may also extend to other family members, as they may be asked to address difficult issues and family dynamics. The process may evoke strong feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, and etc. There may be times in which the therapist will question, or gently and respectfully disagree or challenge the perceptions and assumptions of the client or other family members, and may offer different perspectives. The issues presented by the client may result in unintended outcomes, including changes in personal relationships.
During the therapeutic process, clients may find that they feel worse before they feel better. This is generally a normal course of events. Personal growth and change may be easy and swift at times, but may also be slow and frustrating at other times. Discuss this with your therapist.
Telephone consultations between office visits are welcome. However, your therapist needs to keep those contacts brief for a few reasons: (1) important issues are better addressed within regularly scheduled sessions. (2) Phone conversations are not necessarily confidential. Thus, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed by your therapist. Please feel free to leave a brief message for your therapist at any time on their professional voicemail number. If you wish your therapist to return your call, please be sure to leave your name and phone number(s), the best times to reach you, along with a brief message concerning the nature of your call. Non-urgent phone calls are returned during normal workdays (Monday through Friday) within 24 hours. If you have an urgent need to speak with your therapist, please indicate that fact in your message. In the event of a mental health emergency or an emergency involving a threat to your safety or the safety of others, please call 911 to request emergency assistance, go to an emergency room, or call the Santa Clara County's Suicide and Crisis numbers: 1-855-278-4204, Tel: (408) 279-3312 Tel: (408) 683-2482 Tel: (650) 494-9420. In addition, all therapists employed by Janet E. Akyol, MFT provide psychotherapy in an outpatient, private practice setting, and as a sole practitioner We do not provide 24-hour crisis services. You should be aware of the following resources that are available in our local community:
- 24-hour Parental Stress Hotline: 1-800-442-4453
- Parent Outreach: 1-800-901-4565
- Suicide & Crisis Hotline: 1-855-278-4204
- Support Network for Battered Women: 1-800-572-2782
- Next Door Hotline for Battered Women: 408-279-2962 or 408-501-7550
- Child Protective Services: 408-299-2071
- EMQ Mobile Crisis Unit: (408) 379 3796