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Workplace Wellness Blog

EAP Workplace Awareness Training Program: Helping Employees Make a Positive Decision about Psychotherapy

Posted by Copyright Daniel A. Feerst, BSW, MSW, LISW-CP, Publisher of WorkExcel.com on

Thinking About Psychotherapy?

If you are thinking about making positive changes in your life but are concerned about how difficult those changes

Understanding psychotherapy, what happens in psychotherapty

might be, you may want to consider psychotherapy.

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental and emotional disorders by using psychological techniques through the establishment of a psycho-therapeutic relationship with a mental health
professional. Mental disorders may include severe and recurrent psychological conditions or less severe and short-term emotional problems and disturbances that interfere with your life. You don’t need to have a formal psychological diagnosis to benefit from psychotherapy. Many otherwise healthy individuals seek psychotherapy for a wide range of concerns, from stress to interpersonal conflict to grief counseling and beyond. Psychotherapy is both an art and a science, and has been scientifically studied. Studies show most people report success in making the changes they want with psychotherapy, and this holds true regardless of age or gender. Additionally, the results of psychotherapy tend to last longer and be less likely to require additional treatment courses than drug-based (psychopharmacological) treatments.

How Does Psychotherapy Work?

Psychotherapy works through the establishment of a relaxed, comfortable, trusting, respectful, psychologically safe, and therapeutic relationship with a mental health professional—a psychotherapist. This relationship becomes a tool to help you reduce anxiety and fear so you can successfully examine and confront issues and problems that interfere with your life and your happiness. A psychotherapist will also help you understand why you have certain reactions or feelings, which can be crucial to developing healthier responses to a wide variety of circumstances. Because psychotherapy is dependent on establishing a trusting relationship and taking the time to explore issues fully and develop healthy coping mechanisms, it will take a number of sessions before you see results. How long any individual spends in psychotherapy treatment will be dependent on their particular needs and disposition, the approach of the psychotherapist, the relationship between the patient and the practitioner, and any number of other variables.

Who Provides Psychotherapy?

Qualified and trained mental health professionals who are licensed or certified by their state or jurisdiction usually provide psychotherapy services. Mental health professionals include social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family counselors, and pastoral counselors. These different certifications indicate different levels of education and training, as well as different areas of focus. The type of mental health professional you choose will be dependent on your particular needs—for instance, a social worker may be helpful with work-related issues, a marriage and family counselor could help with conflict between partners, and a psychiatrist can adjust or prescribe medications—though oftentimes, the certification is less important than the individual relationship between patient and practitioner. Settings include public and private practices, and inpatient and outpatient mental health clinics.

Change comes from a positive, professional relationship with your therapits

Will I Be in Control?

Although the psychotherapist will work with you to help clarify your goals for therapy and solve problems, you have the right to direct your own life. The therapist will expect you to find solutions in your own way, and your successes will be your own. This is called “client self-determination,” and it is an important ethical principle in practicing psychotherapy. As such, the psychotherapist will neither demand certain actions of you nor be angry or disappointed if you stumble along the way. Rather, they will help you understand what is causing your challenges and help equip you with the clarity and strength you need to make healthy, constructive choices. But in the end, the choices will always be yours and yours alone.

Will Psychotherapy Work for Me?

Research shows that active clients who want to make changes do better in treatment than passive clients or patients. When you choose a psychotherapist, be sure to discuss the therapist’s qualifications and experience, the frequency and duration of your meetings, and the desired goal of your treatment. You should try to be as open to their insights and suggestions as possible, but don’t be afraid to voice any concerns or questions you have. Ask for an explanation of your diagnosis and any unclear terms. Do the “homework” or tasks the therapist suggests, avoid canceling sessions, and discuss your feelings about the therapist and your progress. Though there is no way to guarantee success for any individual patient, taking these actions will increase the likelihood that you see significant benefits from your psychotherapy treatment.

What About Cost?

Discuss cost with your psychotherapist and how payment will be arranged. If you have not been referred directly to a participating mental health provider, inquire about the possibility of reimbursement or direct payment by your health insurance provider. Your insurance company may limit the number of sessions you can attend, and the company may also require the therapist to send information to them about your treatment so they can approve sessions a few at a time. This is called “utilization review.” If you do not have insurance or you are facing financial hardship, your therapist may be willing to adjust your fee. A number of practitioners offer pricing on a sliding scale to accommodate people with a wide range of financial circumstances. Some mental health professionals are bound by professional ethics to consider your ability to pay when determining fees. In considering cost, it’s also important to take into account the mental and financial cost incurred from not treating a particular condition. Though it may feel pricey to pay for psychotherapy, often the benefits of successful treatment pay for themselves.

What the EAP Can Do

The EAP can talk with you more about psychotherapy and how to make the best use of it. This discussion may lead to clarification on what goals you would like to achieve by participating in psychotherapy. The EAP can also help you decide what type of psychotherapist to consider, understand the different types of psychotherapy available, and determine what your insurance is likely to pay. The EAP may also help you with other insurance-related issues.
If your health insurance does not direct you to specific providers, the EAP can give you names of mental health professionals to consider. Later if you have questions or concerns about the psychotherapy process or the relationship with your therapist, your EAP stands ready to help you make the most of your experience and successful change.


To purchase the PowerPoint Show, DVD, Video, or Web course for your counseling or employee assistance program based on the above content, phone Daniel Feerst at 1-800-626-4327 or email him at publisher@workexcel.com. Advanced purchase list of interested professionals includes a 20% discount.

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