A space for relevant questions
It is understandable to question what prompts you to consult, but also to wonder about the therapeutic process. These questions can help you make choices regarding the professional and the type of approach that will be appropriate for you. Here are some answers and an overview of our therapeutic process.
Why consult a psychologist?
Life isn’t always easy sailing. At times, stressors, hardships or situations that are difficult to manage can disrupt your functioning and cause you to lose your balance. When your usual resources are no longer sufficient to get back on your feet, professional help becomes necessary. The reasons for consulting a psychologist can be numerous and varied. For some people, distress or suffering will bring people to consult, while for others, the need to take stock, to reflect on their life or to prevent the appearance of difficulties will guide the process.
How does the psychotherapy process work?
First, in psychotherapy, a psychologist and clients meet to discuss together. The psychotherapeutic process begins with two or three assessment sessions. This step is crucial and required by the Ordre des psychologues du Québec. This gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the psychologist, ask questions, express your expectations and verbalize your concerns. For the psychologist, the assessment allows them to get to know you by exploring different areas of your current life (couple, family, professional, social), your experiences and your developmental history (childhood and adolescence). During the couple's process and sometimes during the individual process, the psychologist invites you to complete assessment questionnaires that can enrich their understanding. It is also through the assessment process that you express and define your needs to your psychologist, and mutual expectations regarding therapy are determined. These sessions at the beginning of the process are therefore intended to clarify your needs, assess the difficulties you are dealing with as well as your strengths, and establish a therapeutic alliance. Thereafter, the psychologist offers you an assessment feedback session to review your assessment. During this session, the psychologist communicates their observations and clinical understanding. The psychologist will also tell you if they feel they are the right person to help you or if it is better to refer you to other resources. If the therapeutic process is continued, it is an opportunity to establish therapeutic objectives and direction together. Finally, the intervention phase is the core of therapy. It is during this phase that therapeutic work is done to achieve the objectives set during the assessment feedback session. The means employed vary according to the psychologist's approach, but also according to the problem, needs and preferences of the client. For example, for some, therapy will take the form of discussions and reflections in session, while for others, practical exercises to do at home will be used.
What is the duration and frequency of psychotherapy sessions?
Psychotherapy sessions last 50 to 55 minutes for individual therapy and 80 to 85 minutes for couple therapy. The frequency of sessions is determined by you and your psychologist. Usually, the frequency of meetings at the beginning of the process is weekly or every two weeks, and will then be spaced out at the end of the process, depending on the improvement of the client's well-being and the achievement of objectives. Of course, client objectives can be modified during the process due to changing needs or situations. At times, the client(s) may choose to discontinue the process for various reasons even if all the objectives have not been met, and come back later in order to resume the therapeutic process.
How long is a psychotherapy?
The duration of psychotherapy varies and can depend on various factors, including the nature of the problem (e.g. longevity of symptoms, intensity of psychological distress, number of areas of your life affected and complexity of difficulties encountered), objectives that have been set with your psychologist, the frequency of sessions, your motivation within this process and the quality of the therapeutic alliance. In addition, the duration of therapy can be adjusted due to the occurrence of stressors during the process, available budget and other constraints that may govern the therapeutic process. For some, a short-term follow-up of a few weeks can be beneficial and satisfactory, while for others, a medium- or long-term follow-up over several months or even a few years could be recommended.