What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a formal process of working with a trained professional to assist with the problems in our lives that cause distress. Psychotherapists use “talk therapy” which is based upon a wide variety of theories, techniques, experiences and practices to help individuals, couples and families. Many different types of professionals provide psychotherapy including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists and counselors.

What is Positive Psychology and how is it different from traditional psychology?

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of happiness and well-being, and its applications are used to thrive and flourish in life.  The goal of traditional psychotherapy is often seen as the elimination of problematic symptoms and repairing dysfunction to help people move to a more normal life. However, the absence of distressing symptoms does not necessarily generate happiness or thriving.

Traditional psychology’s goal is to takes a person from -5 to 0; and Positive Psychology’s goal is to take a person from 0 to +5.  The interventions used for both sides of the continuum are different but not mutually exclusive if used appropriately. Lorrie is the only psychotherapist who has a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology in Bermuda.

Should I seek professional help from a therapist?

If the quality of your life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help. Making the decision to see a therapist takes courage, and it is very normal to feel unsure because:  

It is human nature to be nervous when trying new things. Acknowledging that there is a problem is difficult because it makes us feel vulnerable. Talking to a stranger about personal issues is awkward.   

Recognizing the need for help is the first step and demonstrates that you have a level of awareness about your limitations. Family and friends may be available to offer support, but their perspective and assistance is limited because of their own feelings, involvement and investment in you. Therapists are trained to be objective and to provide an environment that is confidential, safe, and non-judgmental.

Some of the things I want to talk about are very personal or embarrassing, is that OK?

In the three decades of sessions working with hundreds of people, Lorrie has heard many scenarios and stories.  Everyone’s situation is unique, and she recognizes that the personal information you are sharing takes courage to put into words and the process may seem risky for you.  Lorrie provides a safe place to talk about ANYTHING and listens in a sensitive and non-judgmental manner.

Is the information I provide confidential?

Lorrie addresses confidentiality at the first session because it is important to create a truly therapeutic relationship with clients.  Lorrie does not share who she sees or what she hears with anyone. Insuring confidentiality is the only way a client can begin to trust a therapist.  Lorrie is bound by ethical standards to protect your privacy.

Confidentiality may need to be broken if there is evidence of risk of harm to yourself or others or if otherwise required by a court of law. Occasionally, brief reports and updates may be requested by your physician or psychiatrist.  This exchange of information will never be done without your consent. If you are seeking insurance reimbursement, your name, diagnosis, and the dates of treatment sessions will be forwarded to the insurance company.

Will I have to lie on the couch and talk about my dreams like they do in the movies?

The media rarely portrays therapy accurately or favorably.  The stereotype of a client lying on a couch, describing dreams to a therapist who sits in a nearby chair jotting notes on a writing pad is based on the beginnings of psychotherapy in the early 1900’s.  This technique is not commonly practiced today. Lorrie does have a sofa in her office, but she asks clients to sit rather than lie down!

What can I expect during the first session with Lorrie?

During the initial visit, Lorrie will ask you to complete and review a client information sheet.  She will cover some basic guidelines to help you feel comfortable and become an active participant in the course of your therapy.  Lorrie will discuss confidentially and any concerns or questions you may have about the process.

Lorrie will perform an initial assessment which includes collecting information about the nature and history of the problem(s) that prompted you to seek help.  She will give feedback at the end of the session to clarify the presenting issues and suggest a preliminary plan. She may encourage you to think about certain aspects of this initial feedback or identify treatment goals during the time between the first and second sessions.

The first session is an opportunity to determine if you are comfortable working with Lorrie.  This is essential for the development of a strong working therapeutic relationship. Each therapist is different and has a personal style that they bring to the office.  If Lorrie is not the “right fit,” it is important that you find another therapist.

If you wish to continue with Lorrie, make another appointment.  At this second session, more information will be collected to develop the treatment plan and discuss the way forward.

How long and how often will I have to attend therapy?

The length of treatment depends upon the nature and severity of the problem(s) and the goals of treatment.  Very few people need intensive therapy for the rest of their life. However, some clients decide to continue therapy monthly or quarterly for years to stay on track and continue making life changes and improvements.

Some clients need only a session or two to achieve the desired outcome.  An American research study found that 50 percent of psychotherapy clients had made improvement within eight sessions of therapy and 75 percent showed improvement after six months of therapy. The decision to end treatment is usually made mutually between the therapist and the client.  However, the client ultimately decides if they want to continue or conclude therapy.

The frequency of appointments depends on factors including the approach of therapy, the acuteness of presenting issues and financial practicality.  Most often, initial therapy sessions are scheduled once per week or once every two weeks. With progress towards treatment goals, sessions become less frequent until therapy ends.  

Some clients successfully complete treatment and return to therapy years later for the same or other reasons.  Lorrie can reconnect and resume the therapeutic relationship quickly despite the time between sessions.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who completes medical school and is licensed to prescribe medications to help treat mental illness and emotional and behavioral disorders. A small number of psychiatrists are also trained in offering psychotherapy.  Psychotherapists come from a variety of disciplines with differing degrees and utilize talk therapy along with various interventions to assist clients.

What is a Collaborative Law Coach?

The best efforts to resolve marital challenges are not always successful.  The goodwill created in the process of therapy need not be destroyed by contentious divorce litigation.  It is possible to maintain a respectful and cooperative relationship using the Collaborative Law process.  As a coach to divorcing families, Lorrie provides guidance and support for uncoupling, separation, co-parenting, and divorce.