How do I choose a psychotherapist?
At Central Washington Psychotherapy Associates (CWPA) we understand that making a commitment to psychotherapy is a big investment in time, money and effort. It's important that you choose a psychotherapist who can best help you realize your goals in therapy. Robert Sheavly, LICSW, the Director of CWPA, is available to speak with you initially to help determine your psychotherapy needs. Based on that discussion, he will suggest a psychotherapist who best fits your needs. You will then have the opportunity to speak with that psychotherapist on the phone before meeting him or her in person: All CWPA therapists offer a free initial phone consultation. Bob will try to match you with an appropriate referral, but you always have the option of meeting with more than one therapist until you are comfortable with your choice.
We have prepared a handout, Choosing a Psychotherapist, which covers important areas to consider when you meet with your psychotherapist for the first time.
How can I arrange to see a CWPA psychotherapist?
To arrange to see a psychotherapist, contact Robert Sheavly, the Director of CWPA by leaving a voice message at 202.232.4900. Please include your telephone number or numbers with the area code in your message and suggest some times Bob can reach you. He will try to call you during one of the times you suggest. During that conversation, Bob will answer any questions you have about our services. He will also ask for information about why you are seeking therapy, any preferences you have regarding the type of psychotherapist you want to see, and your particular needs in areas such as scheduling and fees. Based on the information he gathers, Bob will recommend one of the CWPA psychotherapists and give you information on how to contact him or her directly.
What should I expect in the first session?
Prior to your first session you will have had the opportunity to speak with your psychotherapist on the phone and have your initial questions answered. For the most part the initial session allows you and your psychotherapist to meet and get to know each other on a personal basis. You will be able to share with your psychotherapist the reasons for seeking therapy, your goals, and other information about yourself that will help your psychotherapist understand you, your life situation, and your needs. Your psychotherapist may ask you specific questions and is open to answering any questions you have. This process may include completing forms provided by your psychotherapist.
Each CWPA psychotherapist also has written information for you which explains basic policies and procedures. It includes an explanation of confidentiality and some information about its limits as well as the psychotherapist's policy regarding fees, cancellations, and payments. We ask you to sign the form to verify that you have received it.
At the end of the first session, you and your therapist will share general impressions and assess whether working together would be helpful to you or not. You can decide if you feel comfortable enough with this person to do the inner work that is needed (see Choosing a Psychotherapist). If you don't, you can call our Director, Robert Sheavly. Bob will be happy to refer you to someone else.
What results can I expect? How long will it take?
The answers to these questions depend, in large measure, on the problems that you choose to address in your psychotherapy. Some problems respond very well to a short course of psychotherapy, while others require a longer commitment. In general, a more narrowly defined issue, in which the desired outcome can be concretely named (e.g. ”I want help in confronting my boss about a raise. I would like to be able to handle the interaction professionally, but in the past I have always ended up getting angry or teary“) may be resolved in a few sessions.
Conversely, those problems that are more generalized (e.g. ”I'm unhappy but I can't figure out why, and I don't know what would make me feel better…“) would probably require a longer discernment process to get to the real issues that are causing the distress. Additionally, these kinds of issues take more time to effect the changes that would be necessary to resolve the problem. The scope of the therapeutic endeavor can be negotiated between you and your psychotherapist so that you know what you are committing to, and what the criterion would be for a successful outcome.
Clients often start psychotherapy wanting to address a specific issue. Once that issues is addressed, they are satisfied and choose to stop psychotherapy. However, some clients will then decide they want to address deeper issues. When that is the case, they can discuss with their psychotherapist the possiblity of continuing their treatment. You may wish to read Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy and Counseling: What's the Difference? which helps clarify more fully the connection between various types of issues and the length and style of the psychotherapy.