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  • Writer's pictureDr. Natalie Pujo

It’s my first time in individual therapy. What can I expect from a Psychologist?

Are you considering individual therapy, but are wondering, what can I expect from a Psychologist?

Broadly speaking, a psychologist should help you shed light on patterns and dynamics that you may not be fully aware of and deepen your understanding of how past experiences continue to affect you. She or he can also help you reframe and thus change negative thinking patterns and behaviors. Contrary to popular opinion, A psychologist can also offer practical advice when therapeutic. Often this takes the form of tasks assigned outside the session time, if the client is amenable.

Often clients feel “stuck” or recognize that the ways in which they have been coping are not working anymore. Therapy can be life altering; it can help you heal from the pain of feelings of abandonment, grief and loss, trauma, isolation, anxiety, depression, and any other form of suffering that we as humans experience. Therapy can help with stages of life, transitions, facing mortality, and every type of personal and professional relationship.

There are times when a client in individual therapy may benefit from medication to help manage symptoms. While psychologists do not prescribe medication, they can refer clients to psychiatrists and consult with psychiatrists in order to optimize treatment. In addition to training in theoretical orientations, clinical psychologists are also trained in assessing and diagnosing symptoms and disorders based on a medical model of treatment. This can be useful in helping clients manage mood disorders and more serious mental illness.

Finally, there is no “one size fits all” in terms of individual therapy. There are many ways to promote change, growth and healing, and that is why the theoretical orientation of a therapist is not the most important factor in therapy. What matters most is the fit between client and therapist (See “How do I know if a therapist is right for me? “)

My approach is eclectic in that I draw from several theoretical perspectives: However, I believe our emotions are perhaps our most powerfully intelligent and direct language: They give us information about what to pay attention to, and what it is we need, at any given moment. I like the analogy of a car’s dashboard: emotions are the various lights that go on to get our attention.

However, we must learn to identify and express the deeper underlying painful emotions in order to understand what we need. For example, we may feel angry, but underneath we are hurt. We may feel sad, but underneath we struggle with a sense of low self-worth. In my work, I help clients learn to identify, express, regulate and ultimately transform painful core emotions in order to heal and grow.

Ready to take the next step? Want to learn more? Contact me to ask any further questions to determine what kind of therapy you need.

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