Need Some Personal Help?

Therapy offers some tools and answers

Volume CX, No. 10October, 2010

Cindy Green, LCSW

As New Yorkers, we get very used to hearing our friends talk about therapy and their therapists. Therapy serves as a great source of comfort and support for many people.

Years ago, there was often a negative association that therapy was just for “crazy” people. Fortunately, those says are gone and therapy is looked upon favorably as a tool for anyone who is feeling troubled.

You will always have times in your life when things don’t feel quite right and there’s no immediate or logical explanation.

Sometimes an upsetting event can trigger depression or anxiety.

A fear of the unknown, money issues, and coping with career challenges can put us off our game.

During these times, assistance is helpful.

Therapy eases distress. It is the process of exploring feelings, thoughts and beliefs and reducing the suffering that may accompany them.

It promotes self awareness, making us conscious of negative aspects of ourselves and allowing us to grow the positive features.

Therapy can be a useful tool for anyone who is looking for help with difficult times or interested in self improvement.

It is certainly true that people with major mental illnesses see therapists. This does not mean that by seeing a therapist you are mentally ill. There are countless reasons why people see therapists.

Challenges with depression, anxiety or a significant loss like a death can prompt a therapy situation.

Sometimes we need help adjusting or focusing, or living with an ongoing problem that can no longer be handled alone.

A healthy therapeutic relationship will be one in which you feel empowered and united in a partnership with your therapist.

Trust in your therapist is critical. Your therapy session should be a safe space for you to talk about deep feelings and address any issue – even something that you are not proud of – without feeling judged or ridiculed.

It can be a powerful tool to have someone in your life that is on your side when dealing with major problems.

There are several models of therapy available. In addition to one-on-one therapy, there is group therapy, often made up of six to eight or even more people. This type of therapy is great for individuals looking to share the therapy experience. Group therapy offers a unique dynamic among all of the group members (including the therapist) that you won’t find in a one on one relationship.

Family therapy focuses on how individual members affect the entire family as a system. A family therapist will mostly see the family as one unit in order to help all of the family members function at their highest levels.

Residential therapy is a higher level of care used when an individual will only benefit from being removed from their environment for a period of time. Most frequently we think of residential treatment for substance abuse. Frequently individuals are provided with step-down levels of treatment until they can function more independently.

Therapists generally have an “orientation” or a particular set of ideas that they use to frame the way they work with people. There are many different therapeutic philosophies; here are a few:

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy. Based on a set of theories that grew out of Sigmund Freud’s work, this type of practice focuses on the client’s feelings and tries to understand unconscious forces that impact the client’s behavior.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. Frequently referred to as CBT, this practice focuses on “automatic negative thoughts” which affect feelings. The belief is that if one can change negative thoughts, then negative feelings will be relieved.
  • Music therapy. Accredited music therapists use the nonverbal and creative qualities of music to promote and maintain emotional and spiritual health. Music is used to facilitate self expression and self awareness in the context of a therapeutic relationship.

Therapy can be an expensive proposition, as some therapists’ rates make the practice inaccessible to many.

The Actors Fund is an excellent resource for affordable therapy alternatives. If you are interested in pursuing psychotherapy or discussing the possibility, please call the MAP office at (212) 397-4802 or e-mail

For another resource, see

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at (212) 245-4802, ext. 180 or