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July 11, 2022

July Mental Health Series – Understanding the Therapy Experience

Stacey J. Drubner, JD, LICSW, MPH

The EAP has seen an increase in employee stress levels and requests for assistance. Therefore, for the month of July, we are offering a series of posts about topics relevant to mental health and options for help. Our first post was about Minority Mental Health Month.

Part 2: Understanding the Therapy Experience


There are many ways in which people address stress or mental health issues. Sometimes people can cope on their own via engaging in wellness , healthy lifestyle, or self-help activities. Other times it’s beneficial to seek professional assistance or more structured guidance.

In this week’s post, we review what you can expect when you seek therapy.

Yohanna Okoli, LMHC, EAP Consultant at MGB is featured in this video to help you to be prepared for therapy.

Each person’s situation and needs are unique and provider styles/relationship and treatment methods will vary. There are some common baseline components, outlined below.

Identify some goals for treatment in advance

It’s helpful to think about why you are seeking help and what you hope to accomplish (i.e., cope better, address anxiety, resolve a family issue). This will inform the treatment and process and keep the work on track. You can always modify goals during the treatment.

Consider the first few sessions as an introduction to and blueprint for treatment

You and the provider will be getting to know each other during the initial meeting(s)
• The provider will probably do an evaluation and ask questions to better understand your needs for treatment
• This is an opportunity for you to ask about how the provider works and what you can expect from treatment. This might include questions about the process and administrative details, such as:
-Type of intervention
-Costs and co-pays
-Meeting times and frequency
• You will fill out relevant forms and questionnaires
• Share your goals for treatment
• Get a sense of the therapist’s style -some may be more interactive than others

Learn about the confines of confidentiality in therapy

In general, what happens in your sessions is confidential. By law, your provider may not share what happens, or what you discuss in your treatment. Some exceptions include cases of potential harm to self or others or written consent. The APA defines confidentiality and limitations for psychologists, which are generally the same for all licensed providers.

Be a partner in your treatment

In therapy, patients and providers have a collaborative relationship. Whether you are in therapy or seeking help in another area of the medical system, better outcomes are likely if you participate actively in your care. You are the #1 expert on you. Being a good partner in treatment, means being open and honest to the extent your comfort level allows.

Be patient – the process takes time

• As is the case with all relationships, it may take a little time to know if you and your provider are a good match
• You may not see improvement right away
• Sometimes the work can be challenging and even make you feel worse for a period. This is because therapy can often release feelings and reactions that you have worked to keep dormant. Consider that it may be more helpful to you to let these feelings out in a controlled setting with a professional to provide support
• It’s perfectly acceptable and important to communicate with your provider about how you think the process is going and suggest modifications for improvement

Check Back Soon for the 3rd installment in this series: Understanding Treatment Options

Help with Referrals

Referrals through the EAP

The EAP can help you explore options for your treatment needs. Employees and family household members who want to discuss a mental health issue can contact the EAP for an assessment or assistance with a referral. You can request an appointment at 866-724-4327 or via our online form for confidential assistance.

Referrals through Lyra

An additional mental health referral option for Mass General Brigham employees and families with Mass General Brigham Health Plan is available through Lyra.

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