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Dr Shelagh Wright - Systemic and Family Psychotherapist and Family Mediator

I've Been Thinking - Dr Shelagh's Blog


Therapy is the treatment of a disorder or illness. You have probably heard people discussing types of medical therapy, such as physical therapy or chemotherapy. However, the word “therapy” is most often used to mean the psychological treatment of emotional and behavioural problems.

Therapy is a process that is a lot like learning. Through therapy people learn about themselves. They discover ways to overcome troubling feelings or behaviours, develop inner strengths or skills, or make changes in themselves or their situations.

A therapist is a person who has been professionally trained to help people with their emotional and behavioural problems. Some therapists specialize in working with a certain age group or a particular type of problem. Other therapists treat a range of ages and issues. Therapists work in hospitals, clinics, counselling centres, schools or psychotherapy offices. Some work within organisations, for example, the NHS others work privately.

Different types of therapists are able to work with individuals, families or groups depending on their training.

How Private Is It?

Therapists respect the privacy of their clients, and they keep things they are told confidential. A therapist will not tell anyone else about what a person discusses in his or her sessions unless that person gives permission to do so. The only exception to this is if the therapist believes his or her client may harm themselves or others or be at risk of harm. If the issue of privacy and confidentiality worries you, be sure to ask your therapist about it during your first meeting. It's important to feel comfortable with your therapist so you can talk openly about your situation.

Does It Mean I Am Mad?

No. In fact, many people have probably seen a therapist at some point – just like students often see tutors or coaches for extra help with schoolwork or sports. Getting help with an emotional problem is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes.

There's nothing wrong with asking for help when you're faced with problems you cannot solve alone. In fact, it's just the opposite; it takes a lot of courage and maturity to look for solutions to problems instead of ignoring or hiding them and allowing them to become worse.

A few adults still resist the idea of therapy because they do not fully understand it, or they have outdated ideas about it. A couple of generations ago, people did not know as much about the mind or the mind-body connection as they do today, and people were left to struggle with their problems on their own. It used to be that therapy was only available to people with the most serious mental health problems, but that is no longer the case.

Therapy is helpful to people of all ages and with all sorts of problems. You don't have to hide the fact you're seeing a therapist, but you do not have to tell anyone if you prefer not to. Some people find that talking to a few close friends about their therapy helps them to work out their problems and feel like they are not alone. Other people choose not to tell anyone, especially if they feel like others will not understand. Either way, it's a personal decision.