What is Therapy?

COMMON QUESTIONS

Will I have to take medication?

If anyone finds out I’m in therapy what will they think of me?

Do they give me advice?

Do I lie on a couch and talk about my mother? Do they “analyze” me?

HOW DOES THERAPY WORK?

What actually happens when I am there? How long does it take? Will I be in therapy forever? Does the therapist just sit and listen to me or do they also talk? If so, what do they say?

Birmingham Maple Clinic Office

Therapy takes place in private office suites

Clients at Birmingham Maple Clinic set their own goals. From the outset, our clients are encouraged to closely examine what they want to get out of therapy and to choose attainable and realistic goals for themselves. It becomes the therapist’s job to help the client achieve those goals in the most comfortable and efficient manner possible.

For some, the goals are small and the therapy process goes quickly. Others have more elaborate goals that take longer to address. In any case, the therapy process is an ongoing dialogue (in which both therapist and client participate) that provides support, understanding, empathy, questioning, confronting, educating, problem solving, etc. It is the therapist’s job to provide the appropriate amount of each of these to help assist the client in reaching the goal they desire.

Every therapist does this differently depending on his or her own personality and professional style. Regardless of these individual differences, all therapists go through a great deal of education and training to understand exactly how to help effect change in this manner.

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WHO PROVIDES THERAPY?

At Birmingham Maple Clinic our staff consists of highly trained psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists with many years of experience in the mental health field. Our psychiatrists are medical doctors and their primary focus is prescribing medication and other medical issues. Our psychologists, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists provide therapy. Psychologists may either have a Doctoral Degree (PHD) or a Masters Degree with limited licensure (MA, LLP). The education and training includes a 4-year undergraduate degree and either a 2-year graduate program (MA, LLP) or a 4-year doctoral program (PHD) focused on psychological testing and clinical therapy.

Social workers have a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work (MSW). Their educational training includes a 4-year undergraduate degree and a 2-year graduate program focused on clinical therapy. Psychiatrists may either have a Medical Degree (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). The education includes an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, a medical and a psychiatric residency.

Although many people are curious about the difference between these degrees it is best to remember that the particular degree someone holds is not the primary factor in creating successful therapy. The most important factors in determining success in therapy are the expertise of your therapist with the issues you need help with, and how well you and your therapist relate to one another. That is why it is usually best to choose a therapist based on reputation or personal referral. Every therapist has a different style and personality, so getting the “right” match is an important part of the therapy experience.

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HOW DO I GET A THERAPIST WHO IS RIGHT FOR ME?

All of our therapists are capable of handling a wide range of issues, although each therapist has different areas of expertise. Referrals to the clinic are usually directed to a particular therapist, or to the Clinic Director for a referral to the most appropriate therapist. After therapy has begun, clients are always encouraged to ask questions about their treatment and even request a different therapist if they desire.

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HOW MUCH DOES THERAPY COST AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

Most of our clients attend therapy weekly and most major health insurances cover all or part of the therapy expense. Birmingham Maple Clinic is a Blue Cross/Blue Shield outpatient clinic. Other insurances are accepted. It is a client’s responsibility to be informed about whether their medical insurance will cover outpatient therapy. We can try to help you with the specific details you will need to know.

Some clients come for only a few sessions and some come regularly for a longer period of time. The duration is determined by the goals the client wants to accomplish, and the process it takes to reach those goals. Your therapist will work with you to establish a schedule that is comfortable for your needs and goals.

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WHAT ABOUT MEDICATION?

Will I be given medication? How do medicines solve my problem anyway? What kinds of medicines are there and how do they work?

Some people choose to take medication to assist them in overcoming the problems they face. In many cases medication can be very helpful, while in others it offers few advantages. At Birmingham Maple Clinic we feel our clients should make their own choices as to whether or not to begin taking medication. When medication is recommended or considered, our psychiatrists perform a thorough evaluation and provide meaningful explanations about what they are prescribing and why they prescribed it.

The reason for taking a recommended medication has to do with the belief that an imbalance of the chemicals in our brain negatively impacts our moods, behaviors and emotions. These medications increase the ability of the brain’s chemicals to work properly. Legally, these medications must be prescribed by a licensed physician, dispensed by a licensed pharmacist and distributed as part of a supervised treatment plan.

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HOW CAN YOU PROVE THERAPY WORKS?

Birmingham Maple Clinic has begun a long-term research program in order to understand therapy and its benefits as performed in a realistic setting. We are among the first private clinics to seek an understanding of the therapeutic process and to evaluate its impact on our clients.

In an anonymous preliminary evaluation conducted by Nancy Dolin Dietrich, PHD and Janet Gilchrist Jordan, PHD, of Birmingham Maple Clinic, we examined the impact of our services on our clients’ functioning. We used the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) from the DSM-IV Manual of Mental Disorders, and the OQ-45.2 at both intake and discharge. The OQ- 45.2 is a well-known self-reporting research questionnaire which measures how a person feels inside (subjective distress), how they get along with their significant others (interpersonal relationships), and how adequately they perform in certain life tasks (social role performance). Our results are as follows: Birmingham Maple Clinic clients showed a statistically significant change in functioning as indicated by a positive change in their GAF scores from intake until discharge.

  • Birmingham Maple Clinic clients showed a statistically significant positive change in their overall functioning as measured by their total score on the OQ-45.2 from intake until discharge.
  • Birmingham Maple Clinic clients showed a statistically significant positive change in both their subjective distress and their interpersonal relationships as measured by the OQ-45.2 from intake until discharge.
  • Birmingham Maple Clinic clients showed a positive change in their social role performance as measured by the OQ-45.2 from intake until discharge, but not at a statistically significant level.

Our preliminary results are exciting and show the significant progress our clients accomplished with therapy. Birmingham Maple Clinic will use the results of this study and our future research studies to accomplishtwo goals; 1) To ensure provision of the best possible services to fulfill the therapeutic needs of our clients, 2) To further understanding within the scientific community regarding the health benefits of psychotherapy. Future Birmingham Maple Clinic research studies will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of therapy in the treatment of adolescents, children and adults.
  • Determining the stability of therapeutic gains over time after discharge.
  • Examining progress in therapy as differentiated by diagnosis and the related treatment goals for specific disorders (such as ADHD).
  • Examining and evaluating a variety of treatment approaches to determine which are the most effective for specific disorders.

Please contact Kristen Beesley, PHD, or Anton Babushkin, LMSW, at Birmingham Maple Clinic regarding questions or suggestions related to our research.

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WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Therapy is not advice. In most cases, it is not a lengthy process involving years and years talking about remote issues from your past. Most people do not lie on a couch, and it is not always about your mother.

In its most basic form, therapy is a partnership or relationship between an individual, family, or couple and a therapist in which both parties establish goals to enable the client to make desired changes in their life. It is really that simple. There are no hidden agendas, no complicated or controversial therapy techniques, and no goals of “life-long analysis.” At Birmingham Maple Clinic, we believe therapy is about helping people survive in today’s world using today’s methods.

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