What is different about a Social Worker compared to other types of therapists?
There are many great therapists that come with different backgrounds and training. The trick is to find one that suits you. I am making some generalizations about therapeutic approaches here and the reality is that each individual therapist will have their own approach but this is how I see the differences in the professions. Psychologists generally are trained to deal with individuals. Their education focuses on the human mind, and specific techniques that help an individual think, or behave differently. A psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse tends to approach therapy from a more medical perspective. They are trained to identify what is wrong from a biological perspective. Often they utilize the DSM-5 and treat clients with biological interventions such as medication. The DSM-5 is a classification system of mental illnesses. All of these approaches are valid and have proven to show results depending on the issues the client identifies.
Social Workers often come at the problem from a broader angle. We are trained in recognizing the spaces in between. This means that we tend not to focus on the individual as much as the relationships the individual has with themselves, with the people in their lives and with the community at large. We see people’s relationships as a complicated web of interactions. Social Workers also spend a great deal of time looking into what is working rather than focusing exclusively on what isn’t. This means that as a team we would look at the issues you have identified and figure out together what is the best way to approach the situation. As Social Workers we borrow from many different theories and ways of looking at a situation to see what fits best to you.
Why do you charge so much?
This is always an awkward question. It is often uncomfortable to put a dollar value on our own mental health. It is easy to find reasons not to do it. This is one of the big ones that I hear… “I can’t afford it.” You get to be the judge of whether or not it is worth your hard earned money. I like to think of it this way: We spend a great deal of money on exercising, yoga, physiotherapy, chiropractics, massage and other self-help things. This is another way to take care of yourself and unfortunately that sometimes means you need to sacrifice something to make it happen.
How long will I be in therapy?
I am not a believer in Freud’s view of therapy. I don’t think you need to go through years of therapy to see a real difference in your life. Some issues can be dealt with in one session, others may take months. So much depends on how much time and effort you want to devote to what is going on. In the first session we will set out goals for our work together and develop a method of evaluating those goals. Together we will come up with a plan and a timeline that we can work with.
What does confidentiality mean?
In a therapeutic environment my ethical obligations are clear. I am not able to disclose any of your personal information without your express knowledge and consent. There are only a few exceptions to this rule. If you tell me about abuse that is happening to a child, I am under a legal obligation to inform Children’s Services. If you are an immediate risk of harming yourself or someone else I may also need to break confidentiality in order to keep you safe. Regardless you shouldn’t be surprised if we need to get others involved to help. I will try to include you as part of the process.
Will talking to you put me at risk of losing my children?
People often confuse child welfare workers and social workers. It is true some child welfare workers are trained social workers but most of them are not. Social Workers do many different things in the community from outreach work, to policy analysis, to therapy and a range of other jobs. I am not a child welfare worker and have no ability to take children away from their homes. Like all Albertans I am under a legal obligation to inform Children’s Services about abuse towards a child but that is my only connection to Children’s Services.
How would you define your approach to therapy?
I am trained in several traditions of therapy. I have training in Couple’s Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Solution Focused therapy. As a Grief therapist I am most comfortable using Narrative therapy. Narrative therapy explores the meaning people attribute to the events of their lives and the stories they construct around those events. If you’d like I’d be happy to talk more about my approach when we first meet.
If you have any more questions please feel free to contact me.