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What is therapy?

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

Angie Agrawal Holstein, MSW, RSW, Psychotherapist

August 2022


Therapy is not about fixing you because you are not broken.


Seeking therapy is often deeply stigmatized in South Asian culture, with symptoms of mental health often being invalidated, ignored or trivialized. Only you can decide if therapy is something you want to try.



Wondering About Therapy?


Therapy with a mental health professional can be considered for a number of different reasons that are specific and unique to each person.


Such things as:

  • facing a significant crisis

  • dealing with an extended period of worry, procrastination and or low mood

  • diagnosis of mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder

  • coping with a major life transition

  • following a traumatic event such as a car accident, assault or witnessing violence

  • trauma that is chronic in nature such as bullying, family violence, academic pressure etc.

  • dealing with complicated family dynamics

  • grappling with problems in a relationship

  • coping with academic stress, school based or learning issues

  • trying to manage addiction or substance abuse

  • wanting to make changes for better mental and emotional health

  • general wellness

How Does It Help?


Therapy can help you work through your memories, emotions, body responses, negative thinking and beliefs that may be rooted in the past when your brain and body were in development. The goal of exploring and reframing is to be able to support you to develop skills and coping abilities rooted in the present, so you can unburden yourself and thrive.


Facilitated through communicating about your concerns with your behaviors, emotions, body sensations (such as those that signal flight, flight, freeze responses) and thinking patterns to increase more positive thoughts, healing and wellness outcomes.


Therapy encourages open and honest dialogue about issues and emotional states that cause you distress. Through your relationship with your therapist, you can explore the landscape of your life, to identify and understand how stressors are impacting you, plus develop strategies to manage the symptoms.


A successful therapy experience is rooted in understanding that it is not about fixing or curing, but instead about increasing your internal and external resources and supports so you can better cope with the ups and downs of life.





General Benefits Include:

  • improved communication skills

  • more empowerment to bring the unconscious processes into the conscious through self awareness

  • empower you to develop fresh insights about your life by exploring past, present and future parts of yourself

  • learn about boundaries

  • figure out healthier choices and work on habits you would like changed

  • developing coping strategies to manage distress for different situations

  • explore your thoughts, feelings and anxieties without judgment and with more self compassion

  • practice self reflection and awareness; so much of our day to day is on autopilot.

  • understand more and communicate better in relationships


Still wondering? Consider current statistics from the American Psychological Association stating that 75 percent of people who participate in some form of talk therapy experience at least some benefits.


What Can I Expect From a Therapy Session:


The first thing to expect is to expect to feel nervous in your first session. Most people do when they are unsure or trying something new. . After the first few sessions you will learn quickly that therapy sessions generally follow a typical and predictable format. The first few sessions are questions to support building the therapeutic relationship and getting a sense of your background, developmental history, unique experiences, past experiences, concerns, strengths, support systems, health, functioning in present day and what you are hoping to address as your wellness goals.


Your therapist will talk you through what approaches are proposed to be used and what you may expect, so your treatment plan can be developed together in a comfortable and collaborative manner.


Skills such as mindfulness breathing, self soothing, healthier thinking and better coping strategies are integrated into following sessions with your therapist recommending skill building exercises and resources to read in between sessions.


Therapy typically ends when goals have been met and then the relationship may shift to occasional sessions which can be understood as maintenance/booster sessions or connecting again when you may need someone to talk to or be there for you in tough times.




Finding the Right Therapist for You:


We know from longstanding research that the number one predictor of positive outcomes is the therapeutic relationship. This is the working relationship between you and your therapist.

Cultural affinity has shown to foster a higher quality relationship by assisting clients to feel more comfortable and understood, which in turn boosts the success of treatment and positive outcomes for wellness goals. Having a South Asian client see a therapist of South Asian background, increases the likelihood to feel more comfortable in therapy and thus the success of outcomes.


Don’t give up.

Learn more about issues facing your community to validate and normalize what you may have experienced yourself. The most difficult barrier to healing is isolation. Finding a good fit with a therapist may require some work and perhaps the first therapist you find may not be the right fit.


Don’t give up.

The right therapist is there for you to help you make positive strides for your health and well being.


Angie Agrawal Holstein, MSW, RSW, Psychotherapist




To learn more about Ethno-Cultural Therapy, click here.


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