Q: Does a psychologist prescribe medication?

A: No. A psychologist engages in talk therapy. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who specializes in psychiatric medicine. While some psychiatrists engage in talk therapy as well as prescribing medication, their required training in talk therapy is not as extensive as a psychologist.

Q: Do you have to be “crazy” to go for therapy?

A: Not at all. Mental health is as critical as physical health, and asking for help is about the sanest thing you can do for yourself. In the last 20 years, more and more people have benefited from therapy, which helps provide the tools to approach life more constructively. It is not an indulgence, but a smart way to address some issues and approach them with clarity and a new perspective.

Q: Do clients lie down on the couch during therapy sessions?

A: The couch was used in early Freudian psychoanalysis. Therapists go out of their way to find a comfortable chair or sofa for a client to sit on during a session. They just want their clients to be in a comfortable environment.

Q: If I start in therapy will I always be in therapy?

A: Not usually! Some clients benefit greatly from shorter-term visits, such as three or four sessions that enable them to take what they learn and make constructive changes. There are also those clients who seek therapy on an on-going basis. What is critical is the commitment of the patient to resolving the issues at hand.

Q: Does therapy always involve exploration of your childhood and always ends up blaming your parents?

A: Therapy is about learning how to accept responsibility for your life. Sometimes, childhood issues contribute to the problems you experience in your life. Discussion of these issues, along with the guidance of an astute therapist and your willingness to address issues, will help you move forward. If anything, it can be a building block in helping to enhance your relationships with your family.

Q: Will everybody know I’m in therapy?

A: Only if you tell them! The therapist-patient relationship is strictly confidential.


Dr. Ann O'Malley, (703) 350-2928
200 Park Ave
Falls Church, VA 22046