What is individual therapy?
Individual psychotherapy or therapy is a process of self-inquiry and self-awareness. Therapy helps you get to know all parts of yourself: what you have learned, what you have experienced, what you like and dislike about yourself and others, and aspects of yourself that you might not know about yet.
Why do people come to individual therapy?
When people feel unable to successfully address problems or concerns they are facing, they may consider therapy. If you have tried to resolve an issue over time and it keeps returning, you may discover that a therapist can help you find new perspectives or insights.
How can individual therapy benefit me?
Psychotherapy can help to reduce or eliminate anxiety, depression, and the impact of trauma, abuse, guilt, shame, and discrimination. Through therapy, you can gain an understanding of yourself, others, and relationship patterns. Developing clarity, compassion, self-care, and mindfulness are additional benefits of individual therapy.
If you have you ever felt overwhelmed by strong emotional reactions or stuck in a mood or mindset, therapy can help.
Individual therapy can help you to:
- find new resources
- restore self-regulation
- develop new strategies, skills
- find ways to achieve more satisfaction and joy in life
At LifeWorks, we see individual psychotherapy as an in-the-moment process of exploration and discovery that you and your therapist co-create.
Your LifeWorks psychotherapist will help you with the problems you bring to therapy and explore the experiences and patterns behind your struggles. Therapy brings a deeper focus that will allow you to learn about who you are at your core. This process can connect you with qualities, interests, and dreams that may be hidden from your ordinary awareness.
LifeWorks psychotherapists are sex-positive, LGBTQIA+, kink, polyamory, and sex work aware, informed, and affirming. Our staff engages in ongoing training to develop and deepen cultural appreciation, respect, and humility in order to better attune to the impact of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, sexuality, gender, and other identities.
What types of issues can individual therapy help me with?
Some of the problems, issues, and troubles that people often bring to their individual therapy process:
- Anxieties, worries, and fears holding you back in life. Anxiety can manifest in many ways in the mind and body.
- Depression, sadness, or feeling blue or down some or most of the time. Depression can also look like feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, guilt, irritability, hurt, or restlessness.
- Relationship problems in your family, at school, or work. Feelings of disempowerment, or a sense that you don’t belong or are not respected, cared for, or valued.
- Difficulties adjusting to changes and loss. These problems are sometimes related to developmental changes also called “age and stage” challenges. Changes and grief can also be experienced in the context of your job, your home, your community, or an important identity.
- Identity concerns like shame, coming out, processing gender transitions, embracing new presentations, and integrating denied aspects of identity.
- Experiences of micro-aggressions & racism. Cultural marginalization, systemic oppression, trauma, and minority stress can impact your relationships, your work, your school life and your sense of purpose, value, and power.
- Trauma is generally understood as the residual impact of repeated or single incidents of accidents, natural disasters, violence, abuse, bullying, war, or crime that may have occurred in the distant past or more recently. There are many causes of trauma and no one experience is objectively traumatic or not. Your experience and how you have reacted to life events is important.
If you are in any immediate danger to yourself or others, please go to your nearest emergency room or contact a crisis hotline.
What you can expect in therapy
Although your individual therapy experience and discussions will never be exactly like anyone else’s, here is a brief list of the kinds of processing or investigation you and your therapist might address:
- becoming aware of early childhood patterns and other difficulties that may affect your everyday life today
- recognizing and identifying the impact of social and systemic oppression
- working with dreams, body symptoms, and creative processes (like art, movement, storytelling, etc.)
- getting to know and articulating unknown, marginalized, or disavowed parts of yourself
- integrating and connecting to less known, new or unknown experiences, emotions, points of view and values
- ways to move toward healing, transformation, and wholeness
- learning to move at your own pace, setting boundaries for yourself in time, space, and interpersonally
- addressing shame and its impacts
- developing compassion for yourself and valuing who you are
- exploring spirituality, spiritual beliefs, and experiences
- developing greater clarity about what self-care means for you and how you can congruently practice self-care
- practicing responsible/healthy communication and relationship skills
Meet our therapists
- Ari Groner, LCSW
- Carolina Arboleda, Psy.D.
- Andrea Martinez Cabrera, M.A.
- Rami Henrich, LCSW, Diplomate in Process Work
Read more about finding the right therapist for you on our blog.
Common obstacles to starting therapy
You may encounter obstacles as you consider making an appointment or getting started in therapy. Prospective clients often have one or more of these frequently asked questions or concerns:
How do I know therapy is right for me now? Maybe I should wait and see if things get better.
If you are troubled by something and it has not already been resolved with your efforts, psychotherapy might help. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your problem may become more complex. You cannot start therapy too soon. Your impulse to find help is a signal that some part of you is ready to start!
I am not sure psychotherapy will work for me.
Therapy is only one way to heal, resolve problems, and learn about yourself. There are many others. If you have tried other approaches and still find yourself wanting to go further or needing something more, therapy may be an option you can explore. If you are unsure about whether therapy will work for you, talk to your therapist about your questions and doubts.
I am afraid to get started in therapy.
Therapy, like any relationship, is an entry into the unknown in some ways. This can be scary. Your apprehension is natural. We encourage you to share your fears and concerns about starting therapy with your therapist. You can start slowly, sharing the information you feel comfortable sharing and later providing more details if that feels right. There is no right way to start therapy.
I feel confused, hopeless, or overwhelmed.
Strong feelings and emotions sometimes throw us into unusual states of mind and can freeze us or cause us to behave in ways that feel strange or unfamiliar. Your therapist recognizes that confusion, hopelessness, and overwhelm are reactions to situations and events that derail ordinary abilities, skills, and coping mechanisms. Your therapist can help you regulate disorienting experiences and strong feelings and start to recover a sense of self.
I don’t know how to choose a therapist.
LifeWorks’ Intake Coordinator will talk to you about your needs and help you choose a therapist who is a good match for you. If you find that the therapist you are meeting with does not feel like a good match for you, you can return to the Intake Coordinator and find a better fit with another therapist.
I have had a bad experience in therapy before.
If you have had an earlier bad experience with a therapist, please let the Intake Coordinator and your therapist know so they may address any concerns you have. Having your experience heard empathically and validated can be healing in itself.
I’m so busy, how can I fit a weekly appointment into my life?
The pace of life is certainly a challenge. Many of us feel busier than ever, and though we want to take time for ourselves, we may feel conflicted about doing so and worried about the consequences. First, LifeWorks’ Intake Coordinator will work with you to find a therapist with availability that matches yours. Second, discussing your reservations with your therapist can help you to determine the best way to move forward in therapy and in your busy life.
I’m not really in a crisis, so maybe therapy isn’t necessary.
Maybe not, but it may be important to get help before you are in a crisis. If you are troubled by something and it is not abating, therapy may help avert a crisis. You cannot start therapy too soon. Your impulse to find help is a signal that some part of you is looking for help.
Would it be easier to try medication before committing to therapy?
Psychotropic medication can help some people with depression, anxiety, and some other issues, but it is almost always prescribed as an adjunct to ongoing psychotherapy. If you or your therapist think that medication might help you, your therapist can make a referral to a psychiatrist, prescribing psychologist, or prescribing nurse. If you have been prescribed psychotropic medication for depression or anxiety, it is likely with the intention that the medication will reduce your symptoms enough to allow you to work productively in psychotherapy on the problems that are giving rise to your depression or anxiety.
I don’t like talking about my past, problems, feelings and/or emotional topics.
It can be painfully difficult and uncomfortable to remember and talk about traumatic experiences, relationship conflicts, losses and other significant events from the past. You may experience strong or unexpected emotions attached to those experiences. That being said, it is not always necessary to recount the past in detail. Your therapist will be sensitive and cautious when addressing issues of trauma, loss, abuse, discrimination, and other significant events, and you can at any time pause or ask to move away from a difficult topic.
How will I know when to stop therapy?
You have the option to decide on the frequency of therapy and to continue or end the therapy at any time. Most likely you will know its time to stop therapy when you have completed or addressed significant issues that brought you to therapy and reached a momentary resolution. Bring up the idea of terminating your therapy to your therapist. Allow yourself time to review your progress with your therapist and reflect on the growth and change you have achieved. You may also identify unaddressed concerns or issues and make a note of them for future reflection. Take stock of what has been important to you about the therapy. The termination process is often an important part of therapy that clients don’t necessarily anticipate.
At LifeWorks, we believe that having a safe, secure, and stable relationship to process the important and sensitive aspects of your life are essential to good therapy. The confidentiality and privacy of your therapy will be protected.
You and your therapist will:
- discuss and establish a regular day and time for your meetings
- decide if in-person or telehealth is right for you
- make sure that you understand your financial responsibility and your insurance coverage
- come to an understanding about missed, canceled, and re-scheduled sessions
What We Do
Taking meaningful steps towards growth.
Develop your inner and outer relationships.
Who We Are
Explore clinicians’ personal statements and credentials.
Getting Started in Therapy
Intake process, fees, and accepted insurance.
Therapy and Support Groups
Learn more about support and therapy group offerings.
LifeWorks has three convenient locations: Skokie, Lakeview, and Chicago Loop.