Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy & The Process

What is therapy like?

It depends on the therapist and their orientation. With me, our first few sessions will likely be spent talking about what issue or issues are bringing you to therapy and where you are looking for improvements in your life or functioning. For some people this might be reduced anxiety, improved relationships, a reduction in depression. For others it might look like getting support through an important life transition. Many clients come to me because they want something in their lives-- a loving relationship, fulfilling work, improved family communication, more calm and contentment, but they don't quite know how to make it happen or what might be holding them back. 


I utilize a variety of approaches to help my clients reach their goals and improve their lives, most of them involve talking and which direction we head in will always be your choice. Some people want to give me a clear picture of their past and how they see it affecting the present, others want to work on current challenges without focusing on their past at all. The general idea is that we pair what you know about your self and your situation with what I know as a trained therapist about human behavior, change, relationships, patterns, and we work together to move you forward closer to where you want to be.

What can I expect from the first session?

Our first session offers you the opportunity to decide if I am a good fit. Do you feel comfortable talking to me? Do you feel like I am a person who can help you move forward? For my part, I will use the first session to get an idea of what primary issues are bringing you to therapy at this time and we'll assess whether we can work toward some beginning goals. I will gather some basic information from you as well as walk you through an informed consent, confidentiality and your other rights as a client. 

How can therapy help me?

Therapy can help you in a number of significant ways. First, you are paired with a specialist, your therapist can be a great ally in helping you work on your issues, personal growth, interpersonal relationships, whatever you view as important in holding you back or moving you forward toward the life you want to live.


Therapists are highly trained professionals who have spent many years learning how to help people. We know a great deal about communication, emotions, patterns, road blocks, family systems, trauma, making behavioral changes and more. We can also serve as an outside, non-judgmental perspective. It can be hard to overstate how beneficial it can be to talk to someone who is not a part of your everyday life.What you get out of therapy will depends on a number of factors, including the energy you put into the process and how you use what you learn in the therapy room out in your life. Therapy can be hard work but a good therapist can offer needed support that makes making positive changes much easier.


At its heart, therapy helps you connect with what is most important to you and helps you start moving toward the life you want. Therapy can provide you with tools to manage obstacles that get in the way of your progress. Counseling services in Huntington Beach can help you improve your relationships making them more meaningful and vital. Psychotherapy can offer you concrete coping skills to manage anxiety, stress, grief, anger and depression. Therapy can help you learn how to ask for what you want in ways that make it more likely you will get it. Therapy in Huntington Beach can help you identify old patterns of behavior that might be holding you back as well as develop and practice new, healthier ways of being. 

What not just handle my issues on my own?

Handling issues on your own is certainly an option. Lots of people who could benefit from therapy do not go for one reason or another. In my opinion as both a therapist and a person who has seen therapists at different points in my life, therapy offers perspective. Sometimes our own issues, habits, blocking beliefs and patterns are just too close for us to see them. A compassionate outsider can help uncover some of these without making us feel damaged, bad or unfixable. An individual could work on their own for a year to fix an issue that a good therapist in Huntington beach might be able to illuminate in a single session.

How is talking to a therapist different than talking to a friend or family member?

I sincerely hope you have a good friend or family member you can talk openly with. These open, loving people are a huge asset that unfortunately, not enough of us have. But even great family and friends have a relationship with you that is about both your needs and their needs being met. In therapy, everything is about you and what you need, freeing you to focus on what you really want and need without trying to balance the needs of another person. Additionally, no matter how neutral and helpful your partner, parent or friend, they have ideas about you or what you should be doing or what might help you that may not always be helpful. You might also not feel comfortable sharing some of your challenges with the people in your immediate sphere. If you come into my office and are depressed, I won't be fearful the way a partner or parent might be and rush to 'fix' you rather than listen and work together to try to figure out what's going on and what might help you.

What if I decide you are not the right therapist for me?

Finding the right fit in a Huntington Beach therapist is important. You might get a sense that we aren't a good fit right away and you can tell me and I will try to make referrals that I think will help you find what you want. If after a few sessions you aren't sure you are benefitting, it is always good to bring this up directly with your therapist. It can feel hard or uncomfortable but most Huntington Beach therapists really want to know what is and is not working for you. If we know things we can change or shift to make the experience better for you we will, and if not, we can end the therapeutic relationship. Therapy is about you getting what you need so you are always free to decide if it is something that is working for you or if you'd like to continue.

What should I expect in terms of results?

How long will therapy last and when will I know I am finished?

Results in therapy are going to be dependent on a variety of factors and therefore, cannot be guaranteed. Still, it's important to note that therapy benefits most of the people that seek it out. Individuals who are eager to change and willing to put in the effort typically report the most positive results. But again, I see clients all the time who feet lost, unsure about the benefits of therapy, are lacking the motivation to make positive changes and they STILL make progress from learning new coping skills to finding the motivation to make more significant changes. 

Some forms of Huntington Beach psychotherapy are more time-limited lasting just a few sessions. This can be helpful when you have identified your issue and we can work with a method like Solution-Focused Brief Therapy to address a single, specific issue. Some therapies like EMDR tend to have a limited process when applied to specific trauma and can take as few as 10 sessions to complete the process and see tangible benefits.  Others therapies may be longer-term, lasting for months or years. Some of the time commitment is determined by you the client, what you want to work on, the complexity of your issues and what you feel you are getting out of therapy. Some people choose to see a therapist on an on-going basis not because they have to, but because they feel it benefits them in some way.

What can I expect in terms of confidentiality?

Confidentiality is a critical component of good therapy in Huntington Beach. It is also a legal and ethical requirement for practitioners. The law affords you as a client confidentiality that can be broken in a small set of very specific scenarios. what a client says in the therapy room stays in the therapy room with the exception of: (1) If a client discloses child abuse, elder abuse or dependent adult abuse, as a therapist I am mandated by the state of California to make a report to the appropriate agency. (2) If a client discloses in treatment that they have plans to hurt themself or someone else, I will take steps to get them an appropriate level of psychiatric help and I have a legal duty to warn anyone a client may have threatened harm to. (3) If I am subpoenaed by a judge, I am 

If you are using insurance, they have a right to view your records. This is standard in medical practices and while records are not reviewed often, it is important to know that they can be. Confidentiality also includes some other best practices to assure your privacy. Confidentiality refers not just to the contents of therapy but even the fact that a client is in therapy at all. For instance, if I see a client in public, I will not acknowledge them as this could unintentionally breach their confidentiality. I will not discuss a client's case with anyone except other practitioners for the purpose of case consultation and even then, a client's name and identity is obscured to assure confidentiality. 

© 2019 by Christine Duquette, AMFT