Q&A with a Mental Health Therapist

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a local therapist some questions about therapy. The therapist’s name is Shannon Toomey, MS-CP. She works at a local outpatient mental health clinic. The clients seen at the clinic range from adults to children ages 2+ with mental health concerns that are treatable in an outpatient setting.


Why does therapy work?

Photo Credit: All Reverse Mortgage Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: All Reverse Mortgage Flickr via Compfight cc

Ms. Toomey spoke about the trusting, professional relationship the therapist and the client build together. This aspect of therapy is the foundation for accomplishing the client’s goals. Ms. Toomey also talked about the uniqueness of the therapeutic relationship. She stated that in therapy, the client can “gain skills they might not get otherwise.” Lastly, Ms. Toomey spoke about the outsider’s perspective that the therapist can provide for the client. This perspective is unbiased and nonjudgmental. This third party view can provide a different look at the situation and how things are.
What are some good things for clients to know about therapy, especially if they’ve never experienced it before?
Ms. Toomey emphasized that therapy is a process. Change doesn’t happen overnight. She also spoke about the “magic wand” therapists are expected to have that doesn’t actually exist. The therapist works with the client to navigate through issues and identify potential solutions. This can take some time – but that’s okay! Additionally, Ms. Toomey mentioned that while the therapist can teach the skills, and that medication can help the process, it’s best for the client to be on board with the work as well.
How can you tell if sessions are going well with a client?
For this answer, Ms. Toomey spoke about the client’s participation and feedback throughout the session. She said that sometimes, clients are uncertain if therapy will work, but that’s okay. It might take some time, but if the client is willing to give it a try it can lead to a trusting partnership to discuss what’s been bothering them.
Is there anything that would be good for an adolescent/young adult considering therapy to know?
She spoke about the fact that therapy does take some work. Ms. Toomey explained that one cannot change the people around them, but they can certainly work on themselves and their thoughts and reactions to the people around them. Focusing on creating these changes within can make all the difference. She also cautioned that while the client can be making great, progressive changes, those surrounding them might not be. It’s just good to be aware of this so one doesn’t run into failed expectations. Lastly, Ms. Toomey said that therapy is a growing process!

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask a therapist? Let us know in the comments below!

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Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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