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Frequently Asked Questions

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How does therapy work?

There is no simple answer to this question as different therapies work in different ways.  However, in general therapy works by helping the person uncover and discuss his or her emotions and the causes of those emotions.  From there, therapy typically begins to help the person undo the cause of the emotional distress.  This can take place though such things as validating emotions, changing irrational thinking patterns, assertiveness training, or improving relationship skills.

How long does therapy take?

The length of therapy can vary considerably from one person to the next.  However, be aware that you have considerable influence over the length of therapy and are free to stop at any time.  The length of therapy can vary depending on the extent of emotional distress a person experiences, the personal history of the person, the amount of benefit that the person wants to obtain, and the level of participation the person puts into therapy.

Is what I say confidential?

Yes!  State laws require that everything communicated to your therapist remains private unless you give written permission to share that information.  However, there are certain situations in which the therapist is mandated to report what you say. These situations typically relate to suicide, homicide, child abuse, and court orders.  Your therapist will discuss these matters more during your first session.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists go to graduate school and learn such things as therapeutic techniques, theories of personality, and development.  While psychologists typically focus on providing therapy, some also provide psychological assessments.

Psychiatrists go to medical school and become physicians.  As such, they are allowed to prescribe medications, but usually provide little talk therapy.  Although any physician can prescribe psychiatric medications, psychiatrist have specialized training that can be helpful when there are complicating factors such a medical illness, head injury, substance use, or complex mental health concerns.

What is a psychological assessment?

A psychological assessment is a detailed exploration to help answer a specific clinical question.  Examples of such questions include determining if a person has ADHD, has Bipolar Disorder, or whether medications would benefit a person.

What does a psychological assessment entail?

Most psychological assessments begin with an interview, which typically lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.  After the interview, the psychologist will typically administer a few psychological instruments to help get a better understanding of you and your functioning.  These instruments can involve answering a questionnaire, completing some puzzles, or responding to stimuli on a computer screen.

What is a forensic evaluation?

A forensic evaluation is similar to a psychological assessment, but is structured to help the courts answer a specific legal question.

What does a forensic evaluation entail?

Forensic evaluations typically begin with a review of available records to help the psychologist begin to develop an understanding of the situation and question to be answered by the evaluation.  The psychologist then typically interviews the person and administers specific psychological instruments.  Most forensic evaluations also include obtaining collateral information from people that are familiar with the person being evaluated.

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