A Special Kind of Learning – Part 2-How Therapy Works and How To Get the Most Out of It

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”’Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this article was posted last Wednesday. See: “A Special Kind of Learning – Part 1″ Topics addressed include stress management, parenting, making changes, a safe environment, solving problems and finding a therapist. Below is Part Two. This segment addresses topics such as the right therapist, the first visit, marital issues, teen issues and embracing change.”’


”The First Visit”

Initially, the therapist tries to learn as much about you as possible. Information gathered may include demographic data, your reason for seeking help, how the problem began, and other background information such as personal and family history.

At the end of the visit, the therapist will probably give feedback. This may include a recommendation for follow-up visits, with an explanation of the approach and goals for these visits.

Most people feel good after the first visit, even if their problems are not yet solved. They feel relieved and hopeful that therapy can help improve their lives.

”Follow-Up: Marital Issues”

Follow-up visits are useful if more time is needed to delve into issues. After Val and Kyle Woods attended an initial visit concerning their marital conflicts, the therapist suggested some follow-up visits.

The Woods’ conflicts were mostly about money, something many couples fight over. During a follow-up visit, they uncovered other issues that were fueling their conflicts. Persistent arguments are often an indicator that one or both partners have unresolved childhood issues such as abandonment, rejection or helplessness. This type of pain tends to resurface in adult relationships and can cause conflict.

Therapy helped the Woods identify the childhood issues that were surfacing in their marriage, and showed them how to heal their relationship and themselves.

Subsequent visits gave the couple a chance to review their progress and to ask questions. The therapist observed the couple interacting and suggested homework exercises they could practice to improve their communication.

The Woods benefited from therapy because they never missed an appointment, they did their homework, and they integrated what they learned in therapy into their lives.

During their final visit, they acknowledged they had achieved the goals for which they had sought therapy: Conflicts were no longer an issue. They were now able to discuss things without fighting and to exchange opinions respectfully.

”Follow Up: Teen Issues”

Dan, who was having trouble relating to his son, eventually made a therapy appointment for the entire Ching family. At the first visit, it was clear that 13-year-old Phil was having difficulty transitioning to adulthood. He was rebelling at home, at school and with his peers. This angered Dan, and left both parents feeling helpless.

Follow-up visits with an adolescent who has multiple behavior problems often requires the therapist to use a variety of strategies, such as problem-solving interventions and individual and family therapy.

Therapy with Phil alone revealed that he hungered for approval and attention, and needed structure. Family therapy focused on improving communication in the household and teaching both parents how to incorporate discipline and quality family time into their daily routine.

The Chings made the necessary lifestyle changes and Dan’s anger subsided. Phil is now a well-adjusted 17-year-old who recently graduated with honors.

For therapy to be effective with children, it is important that parents work together with the therapist by implementing recommended changes at home.

”Embracing Change”

Therapy is a special kind of learning process that can strengthen a person