FAQs

Counseling & Therapy

Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns and overcome your challenges.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken

Is therapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance 

Postpartum

Are there resources for Postpartum Depression?

Yes! See our links page.

How is postpartum depression treated?

It is important to know that postpartum depression (PPD) is treatable and that it will go away. The type of treatment will depend on how severe the PPD is. PPD can be treated with medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy. Women with PPD are often advised to attend a support group to talk with other women who are going through the same thing. If a woman is breastfeeding, she needs to talk with her health care provider about taking antidepressants. Some of these drugs affect breast milk and should not be used.

What are the signs of postpartum depression?

The signs of postpartum depression include:

  • Feeling restless or irritable.
  • Feeling depressed, sad or crying a lot.
  • Having no energy.
  • Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart being fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), numbness, or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing).
  • Not being able to sleep or being very tired, or both.
  • Not being able to eat and weight loss.
  • Overeating and weight gain.
  • Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Being overly worried about the baby.
  • Not having any interest in the baby.
  • Feeling worthless and guilty.
  • Being afraid of hurting the baby or yourself.
  • No interest or pleasure in activities, including sex.

What can I do to take better care of myself if I get postpartum depression?

The good news is that if you have PPD, there are things you can do to take care of yourself.

  • Get good, old-fashioned rest. Always try to nap when the baby naps.
  • Stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything.  Do as much as you can and leave the rest! Ask for help with household chores and nighttime feedings.
  • Talk to your husband, partner, family, and friends about how you are feeling.
  • Do not spend a lot of time alone. Get dressed and leave the house – run an errand or take a short
  • walk.
  • Spend time alone with your husband or partner.
  • Talk to your health care provider about medical treatment.  Do not be shy about telling them your concerns. Not all health care providers know how to tell if you have PPD.  Ask for a referral to a mental health professional who specializes in treating depression.
  • Talk with other mothers, so you can learn from their experiences.
  • Join a support group for women with PPD. Call a local hotline or look in your telephone book for information and services.

What causes postpartum depression?

No one knows for sure what causes postpartum depression (PPD).  Hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger its symptoms. During pregnancy, the amount of two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in a woman’s body increase greatly.  In the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops and keeps dropping to the amount they were before the woman became pregnant. Researchers think these changes in hormones may lead to depression, just as smaller changes in hormones can affect a woman’s moods before she gets her menstrual period.   Thyroid levels may also drop sharply after giving birth.  (The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps to regulate how your body uses and stores energy from foods eaten.)  Low thyroid levels can cause symptoms that can feel like depression, such as mood swings, fatigue, agitation, insomnia, and anxiety.  A simple thyroid test can tell if this condition is causing a woman’s PPD.  If so, thyroid medication can be prescribed by a health care provider.

Other things can contribute to PPD, such as:

  • Feeling tired after delivery, broken sleep patterns, and not enough rest often keeps a new mother from regaining her full strength for weeks. This is particularly so if she has had a cesarean (C- section) delivery.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with a new, or another, baby to take care of and doubting your ability to be a good mother.
  • Feeling stress from changes in work and home routines.  Sometimes women think they have to be “super mom” or perfect, which is not realistic and can add stress.
  • Having feelings of loss – loss of identity (who you are, or were, before having the baby), loss of control, loss of a slim figure, and feeling less attractive.
  • Having less free time and less control over time.  Having to stay home indoors for longer periods of time and having less time to spend with the baby’s father.

What is postpartum depression? Are the “baby blues” the same thing as postpartum depression?

There are different types of PPD women can have after giving birth:

  1. The baby blues happen in many women in the days right after childbirth.  A new mother can have sudden mood swings, such as feeling very happy and then feeling very sad.  She may cry for no reason and can feel impatient, irritable, restless, anxious, lonely, and sad.  The baby blues may last only a few hours or as long as 1 to 2 weeks after delivery.  The baby blues do not always require treatment from a health care provider.  Often, joining a support group of new moms or talking with other moms helps.
  2. Postpartum depression (PPD) can happen a few days or even months after childbirth.  PPD can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first child.  A woman can have feelings similar to the baby blues – sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability – but she feels them much more strongly than she would with the baby blues.  PPD often keeps a woman from doing the things she needs to every day. When a woman’s ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs to see her health care provider right away. If a woman does not get treatment for PPD, symptoms can get worse and last for as long as 1 year.  While PPD is a serious condition, it can be treated with medication and counseling.
    • Postpartum Anxiety can happen a few days or even months after having a baby. A woman may feel anxious after childbirth but not have PPD.  She may have what is called postpartum anxiety or panic disorder. Signs of this condition include strong anxiety and fear, rapid breathing, fast heart rate, hot or cold flashes, chest pain, and feeling shaky or dizzy.  Talk with your health care provider right away if you have any of these signs.  Medication and counseling can be used to treat postpartum anxiety.
    • Postpartum OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
    • Postpartum PTSD (Postpartum Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  3. Postpartum psychosis is a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers.  This illness can happen quickly, often within the first 3 months after childbirth.  Women can lose touch with reality, often having auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t actually happening, like a  person talking) and delusions (seeing things differently from what they are).Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common.  Other symptoms include insomnia (not being able to sleep), feeling agitated (unsettled) and angry, and strange feelings and behaviors.  Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication.  Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else.

Who is at risk for getting postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) affects women of all ages, economic status, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. Any woman who is pregnant, had a baby within the past few months, miscarried, or recently weaned a child from breastfeeding can develop PPD.  The number of children a woman has does not change her chances of getting PPD. New mothers and women with more than one child have equal chances of getting PPD. Research shows women who have had problems with depression are more at risk for PPD than women who have not had a history of depression.

Why do women get postpartum depression?

Having a baby can be one of the biggest and happiest events in a woman’s life.  While life with a new baby can be thrilling and rewarding, it can also be hard and stressful at times.  Many physical and emotional changes can happen to a woman when she is pregnant and after she gives birth.  These changes can leave new mothers feeling sad, anxious, afraid, or confused.  For many women, these feelings (called the baby blues) go away quickly. But when these feelings do not go away or get worse, a woman may have postpartum depression.  This is a serious condition that requires quick treatment from a health care provider.