Hamilton Psychological Services

701 Main Street West, Suite 104, Hamilton, ON., L8S 1A2 • 905-527-5991 • 1-877-527-5991 • [email protected] •        Client Portal
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"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion."
Max de Pree

We offer direct billing to 10 major insurers, covering 85% of privately insured Canadians. Ask us to submit your claim for you at your next visit.

Helpful Links

About Learning Disabilities:
All Kinds of Minds
Learning Disabilities Association

For Kids and Teens:
Mind Your Mind
Kids Help Phone

For Parents
Kids' Mental Health Ontario
Lives in the Balance
Psychology Foundation

For Couples
Gottman podcast

For everyone
Help Centre
Mood Disorders Association
Canadian Mental Health Assoc.

Professional Organizations
Ontario Psychological Association
Canadian Psychological Assoc.
College of Psychologists of Ontario

What to expect in psychotherapy

Why do people consider psychotherapy?

There are many reasons to consider accessing psychotherapy for yourself, your child, or your family. Generally, these reasons have to do with experiencing problems in living or high levels of distress or uncertainty. Problems in life that are difficult to resolve and overwhelming emotions both can interfere with daily functioning, such as causing difficulties with concentration at work or school. Diagnosed mental health conditions also can be targeted through the “talk therapies,” such as depression or anxiety (e.g., Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc.).

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a partnership between an individual, couple, or family, and a therapist. At our offices, therapists are either registered with a regulatory body (e.g., College of Psychologists of Ontario) or in the process of preparing for registration (i.e., under the supervision of a registered member). Your therapist has been trained to understand the interplay between your environment or circumstances and your emotions. In addition, your therapist is experienced with assisting people to make changes in order to reach their goals, such as to reduce the impact of anxiety on life or to cope with a separation.

What can I expect in psychotherapy sessions?

Your first appointment has two main purposes: for you to meet your therapist and see if you feel comfortable working with them, and for your therapist to meet you and to start gathering information about what your concerns and goals are. Whether you have a good “match” with a therapist is mostly about personality. Never hesitate to let us know if your first visit lets you know you don’t have a good match; if a suitable therapist is not available within our offices, we will help you find another therapist.

Often in first sessions, clients are eager to talk about their concerns. Your therapist will steer the discussion as needed so that they get the information they need to understand your concerns and goals. You and your therapist then will decide collaboratively on an approach to your goals. There are many different ways of approaching psychotherapy (e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, Interpersonal Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy). It is important that the way of working in psychotherapy fits both your difficulties and goals, as well as your personality and preferences. You don’t need to know which psychotherapy is best! Your therapist will guide you through this process.

Generally after the information gathering, which can take one to three sessions, sessions settle into a routine where your areas of difficulty are discussed, and the process of those discussions is used to assist you to move towards your goals. Often, there will be “homework,” or suggestions of things to try in between sessions. The work put into such assignments often is the most important determiner of the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

How do I get the most out of my investment of time and money in psychotherapy?

The most important thing is that you make, and keep, regularly scheduled appointments. There is a “dosing” effect of psychotherapy; if you don’t “take it” regularly, you can’t expect to see results. This doesn’t mean that psychotherapy will last over a long period; often the first 3 or 4 sessions are enough to see improvements and to be able to consider reducing frequency of sessions.

The other important factors are that you are as open as you can be during sessions, and that you make your best efforts to try any “homework” decided on during sessions. When something isn’t working or doesn’t make sense, your therapist needs you to tell him/her (we don’t read minds!). Similarly, if you have concerns about your psychotherapy, it will be most helpful for you to bring them up as soon as possible.

How do I know if psychotherapy is working for me?

Discuss your goals with your therapist. Often, the first stages of psychotherapy are focused around clarifying what your goals are, so don’t worry if you’re not sure of your goals before you come in. Setting your goals will help you and your therapist know if you're moving towards achieving them.

If you feel like your psychotherapy sessions are a joint effort between you and your therapist, that is a good sign. If you are finding your psychotherapy stressful, that probably also is a good sign, it means that you are dealing with important issues. However, if you find that you are overwhelmed following sessions, let your therapist know; you may be moving too quickly in psychotherapy.

A general way of describing the goal of psychotherapy is that, though life continues to throw the occasional curve ball or unwanted surprise your way, you are feeling comfortable in your ability to cope without undue stress or distress. At that point, psychotherapy usually is over, though regularly scheduled “maintenance” sessions may be recommended (e.g., 3 months later and then 9 months later).

Overall, psychotherapy is a deeply personal experience that is hard to describe. Even what “success” in psychotherapy will be is defined differently by different people. The key elements to achieve the success that you looking for are being open and willing to work hard.

You can reach your goals in psychotherapy, whether your goals are about relationships, emotions, or daily functioning. Research tells us that psychotherapy works!

Please call our offices if you have any questions.