Psychotherapy, often referred to a talk therapy, is a goal-oriented process recommended for processing trauma, strengthen relationships, and learning new ways to manage emotions. According to John Grohol, Psy. D. at Psych Central, most psychotherapy is short-term, lasting less than a year and often involves altering aspects of your life that may be causing problems.
Kendhal Herrera, LPC-S, the Clinical Director at Dallas Counseling and Treatment Center, shares her professional opinion on psychotherapy and why she recommends her clients engage creatively in the healing process.
Q: Tell me a little about what you do as a Licensed Professional Counselor.
A: As a licensed professional counselor, I assess clients and establish goals they want to work on. I also diagnose, if appropriate. I start by getting a summary of what made them seek counseling. Then, I have them tell me their “life story” from as far back as they can remember and I ask questions about their relationships with their parents and siblings growing up, if there was any abuse or neglect, and how they were in school. I try to get a good picture of who this person was over the course of their life and when these problems began emerging. It’s hard to change something when you can’t even label it, and knowledge empowers people. If they can understand what happened that led them to behaving this way or struggling with these issues, it really helps them to conceptualize a way to overcome it.
Q: What are the benefit of psychotherapy?
A: The benefit of psychotherapy is that you get a neutral outsider’s perspective on what’s going on with you. We are trained to see you and your behavior in a different way so we can help you better understand what’s going on. Personally, I am very goal oriented so another benefit would be that the therapist keeps you on track and motivated to accomplish the goals you set in the initial appointment. It can also model a healthy relationship for the client who may have never or rarely experienced that before. They can learn to be confrontational or assertive based on the therapists behavior toward them or the way they are able to confront the therapist and not be shamed for it. We also have a lot of tools or coping strategies we can teach you.
Q: What does psychotherapy mean to you?
A: Psychotherapy means making yourself the focus for a while, deciding that you’ve lived this way for so long and you want it to change. Psychotherapy allows me to have emotional relationships with a lot of people and help them achieve the life they want. It means a client who came in with low self-esteem now has confidence and says he could never imagined this being his life. It means a client coming in after 20 years of on and off therapy who says they don’t feel like they’ve changed at all and having them say after a year that I’ve helped them have their life back.
Q: Describe the creative methods you use with your clients during therapy sessions that have proven to be reliable.
A: I have my clients use imagination a lot. The nervous system interprets imagination the same way it does actual experiences. So, we can use that to retrain their reactions. We also do some writing either in therapy or outside of it. I will often have clients keep some sort of notebook with thoughts from the week and where they can at least write down their homework so they can remember to accomplish it over the week.