• How does therapy work when we’re “just talking”?

    In therapy, even when we’re “just talking”, we are doing so in a purposeful way. Therapy provides a safe and supportive place to discuss the problems you’re experiencing. Simply being able to share openly, with an understanding and encouraging psychologist, can reduce the burden of your problems and help you feel better.

    In addition, your psychologist will ask questions and make suggestions to help you explore issues in a new way and consider positive changes you can make in your life. For example, your psychologist might ask you to consider how particular thoughts or beliefs are impacting your reaction to a certain situation, and explore whether there might be other ways of thinking about that situation.

    As you and your psychologist talk about the challenges you’re facing, you will likely begin to think about the problems differently and discover some new ways to deal with them. Although we may be “just talking” during the sessions, you will likely leave the office with the courage and determination to apply your new perspectives and new skills outside of therapy in order to make positive changes in your life.

  • How should I choose a psychologist to work with?

    Therapy involves a significant investment of your time, money, and energy into improving your life. Therefore, your choice of a psychologist should be made carefully. In order for you to benefit from therapy, it is important that you feel comfortable with your psychologist, their skills, and their competence. You can learn more about your psychologist’s background and approach to therapy on this website or by asking your psychologist for more information.

    You may also wish to consider whether you would feel more comfortable with a psychologist of a certain age, gender, or ethnic background. Our psychologists have worked with a wide range of clients of diverse ages, genders, sexual orientations, spiritual beliefs, and ethnic backgrounds.

    Any of our psychologists would be happy to speak with you by phone for a few minutes at no charge prior to setting a first appointment. We believe that it is extremely important for you to feel comfortable with the person you will be working with, and so we are pleased to chat with you for a few minutes to help you determine if our individual experience and personal style will be a good fit for you.

  • What should I expect to happen during therapy?

    The exact details of what happens in therapy depend a lot on the problems you’re experiencing and your own goals for therapy. Generally speaking, the first session will be used to discuss your background and the problems that have brought you to seek therapy. Within one to two sessions, you and your psychologist will begin working together to create a plan for how to proceed in therapy.

    In general, our psychologists are interested in helping you in the here and now. Although it may be important to explore your past experiences in order to understand your current problems, therapy will mostly focus on ways to improve your life today so that you can create a better tomorrow.

    Therapy is most successful when there is a working relationship that involves collaboration and partnership between you and your psychologist. Your psychologist will use his or her knowledge and skills to assist you and suggest strategies for making positive changes in your life. This may involve trying specific exercises (such as relaxation practices), developing new skills (such as communication strategies), or exploring new perspectives (such as changing the way you think about and react to situations in your life).

    To be effective, therapy requires your active participation, effort, and perseverance, both in session and between sessions. It is important for you to provide input about problem areas you’d like to work on. Your feedback about the topics being discussed and techniques being used will help your psychologist tailor therapy to your needs. Your psychologist may provide books, articles, or handouts to help you learn as much as possible about the problems you are experiencing. Your psychologist may also suggest “homework” exercises to do between sessions, in order to further explore certain issues or practice making changes in your life. You may find it helpful to bring a notebook or electronic recording device (e.g., iPad) to sessions, as you will probably want to make note of important ideas discussed during sessions.

    In general, a good rule of thumb is that the more you put into therapy, the more you will get out of it.

  • Does therapy work?

    In short, yes! Research shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for a wide variety of people with a wide variety of problems, including: stress, anxiety, panic, phobias, trauma, OCD, depression, relationship issues, child behaviour problems, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and certain health problems.
    Research studies and customer surveys show that therapy clients report numerous benefits of therapy, including: feeling understood by their psychologist, developing insight into their problems, being more motivated to change their behaviours, having access to a variety of strategies for change, and experiencing improved emotional state. Our clients often report that their lives are more meaningful and satisfying due to the positive effects of therapy.

    Of course, in order for therapy to be effective it is important for you to feel comfortable with and confident in your psychologist. You will also benefit most from therapy if you are an active participant, and willing to invest your effort, time, and energy.

  • Will you ask me to start or stop taking medication?

    It is our firm belief that decisions about medication should be made between you and your physician or psychiatrist. Our psychologists are familiar with a wide variety of medications that are often used by our clients, and are willing and able to discuss issues involving medication. However, it is important to note that psychologists are not able to prescribe or provide specific recommendations about medication.

    Medication can be a useful tool for managing many of the psychological symptoms that you may be experiencing. Research shows that, for many problems, medication and psychotherapy are approximately equally effective. Treatment may be most effective when a combination of medication and psychotherapy is used. However, research also shows that once treatment stops, the effects of psychotherapy are longer-lasting than the effects of medication. This is because psychotherapy teaches you skills and strategies to deal with problems, which helps you be prepared for challenges that you may face in the future.

  • What if I’m dissatisfied with my therapy?

    If you have any questions or concerns about your psychologist’s approach to therapy, you are strongly encouraged to discuss these issues with your psychologist. Your psychologist may be able to provide information or adapt their approach in order to make your experience more positive. Our psychologists always welcome your feedback about these issues, so that they can provide you with the highest quality of treatment.

    You are absolutely free to stop therapy at any time. If you choose to do so, your psychologist will be happy to provide you with suggestions for alternative resources and professionals to contact.

  • Does coming for therapy mean I’m crazy or abnormal?

    Absolutely not! Many people from all walks of life seek therapy, for a wide variety of reasons. In fact, research shows that as many as 20-30% of people will experience problems with their mental health at some point in their lives.

    Many clients come to therapy in order to learn new strategies and skills for dealing with the challenges they’re facing. Some of our clients seek therapy so that they have a safe and supportive place to discuss the problems they are experiencing in their life. For other clients, therapy provides an opportunity to find meaning in life and grow into the people they really want to be.

    Ultimately, coming for therapy means that you have the courage and wisdom to address difficult issues in your life. Call us crazy, but we think that’s a good thing! We believe that everyone has problems and struggles at times, but not everyone has the guts to seek help or the willingness to learn new ideas and skills.

  • How long will therapy take?

    We are committed to working as efficiently as possible so that you achieve maximum benefits from treatment. The specific timeline of therapy depends a lot on the problems you’re experiencing and your own goals for therapy.

    Most of our clients start with sessions once a week, or once every two weeks, for a few months. Once you have some gained some momentum toward your goals, you may meet with your psychologist less often. This allows you to spend more time thinking about issues or implementing changes in the privacy of your own home or your community. Of course, you are always able to return to more frequent sessions if you experience additional difficulties or are not making progress on your own.

    Clients often report that they start to see significant benefits of therapy within the first five or ten sessions. You can maximize the effectiveness of therapy by actively applying thought and effort in your life between sessions.

    You and your psychologist will collaboratively decide when stopping therapy would be appropriate. You will never be suddenly “dumped” by your psychologist, and we would also ask you to let us know directly if you are planning on ending therapy. Research has shown that clients who discuss their plans prior to ending therapy tend to be more successful in their post-therapy endeavours.

    Some people choose to move into “maintenance therapy” following a period of actively working on their current problems and concerns. These people have decided that they benefit from periodic “booster” sessions, which allows them to reinforce the gains they initially made in therapy by staying connected to someone who has come to know them very well. At Southport Psychology we are supportive of the role of maintenance therapy for some people, and we would invite you to talk to your psychologist about the possible pros and cons of ending therapy versus staying connected through occasional booster sessions.

  • What style of therapy do your psychologists use?

    In general, our psychologists approach therapy from a cognitive-behavioural perspective. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has a large research base to support its effectiveness with a wide range of problems. The CBT model suggests that our feelings are influenced by our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours. As we change the ways we think and react, we can improve the way we feel.

    While CBT forms the basis for much of our work, our psychologists have also been trained in other therapeutic models, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), psychodynamic therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Your psychologist will draw on their previous experience and knowledge of therapeutic approaches in arriving at a therapeutic approach that best fits your specific needs, problems, and goals. As appropriate, your psychologist may help you to examine relationship issues, find healthy ways to express your emotions, enhance your self-esteem, or explore your values in life.

    Each of our psychologists has their own unique approach in therapy, so you are encouraged to discuss this matter with your psychologist. They are always willing to explain the rationale of any technique or strategy they use. Our team of psychologists always welcomes feedback about your preferences in therapy.