Dr. Verlis L. Setne

(512) 480-0212


What is mental health?  How do I choose a therapist?  What's the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists?  Is group therapy right for me?
What is Mental Health?
What are the mental health goals addressed by the psychotherapy process?
Mental health can be defined as the sense of well-being and security that grows out of . . .

An awareness of what your needs   are and how to get them met.

The ability to accurately express   your emotions so that others can  know what you are experiencing.

Being in activities that you find satis- fying and reflect what you believe in.

Making and maintaining close rela-  tionships that include intimacy and respect for personal autonomy.

Being comfortable with your         physical body and taking good     care of it.

Responding to life’s challenges as opportunities to learn rather than feeling “beset with problems."

Discovering and creating the life      you want to live rather than simply      reacting to what’s happening.

Trusting, liking, and enjoying yourself.

Hints on Interviewing a Therapist
How to choose a therapist who will work for you.
1. Ask the therapist for credentials and length of practice (you might want someone very experienced or someone you think is open to new ideas). If the therapist mentions something you don’t understand, ask.

2. Ask whether the therapist has had experience with people like you, whether he/she feels comfortable working with you and thinks he/she can help you.

3. Ask about fees. If applicable, check your health insurance policy for outpatient mental health benefits. Ask your therapist about the benefits and disadvantages of using health insurance vs. private pay.

4. Find out how often the therapist wants to see you.  Once a week is the norm.

5. Pay attention to the office atmosphere. Do you feel comfortable? Don’t censor your impressions.

6. Judge for yourself whether the therapist is understanding what you’re saying; if you don’t feel understood, it’s a bad sign.

7. Consider asking the therapist for another referral if you don’t think you’ll work well with this particular one. Therapists know many of their colleagues and, after talking with you, may be able to recommend a better fit.

8. If, after a few months, you don’t think therapy is progressing, discuss this with your therapist. If you decide to leave therapy, consider asking if your therapist knows someone with whom you might work better.

Psychology And Psychiatry : Similarities And Differences

Professional psychology and psychiatry are similar in their focus on the amelioration of emotional distress and of destructive or nonproductive behavior. An earned doctoral degree, internship, and licensure are the requisites for independent practice in each profession. Both professions use relationships with patients or clients as an instrument in working toward therapeutic goals. Both groups contain members who form the conservative elitist core of the profession, both groups contain a politically active subgroup with relatively high public visibility, and both groups have their own collection of rebels, idealists, avant guardists, loners, followers, alcoholics, liberals, creative geniuses, and the variety of characteristics found in all groups of humankind.

High standards of training, supervision, and practice are promoted for each profession through licensing board monitoring and professional organization action.

For all their similarities, professional psychiatry and psychology also differ in some significant ways. Psychiatrists’ strengths lie in a biological perspective, in an intimate knowledge of human physiology, endocrinology, pathology, psychopharmacology, neurology, and neurochemistry. They treat physically and mentally ill people, prescribe medication, and have easy access to other medical specialists.

Psychologists’ strengths lie in a social perspective, in child and adult development, in learning theory and behavioral research, interpreting standardized tests, and in social psychology. They have an orientation toward continuing personal growth, an interpersonal dynamics perspective, and easy access to researchers in the social sciences.


Advantages Of Group Psychotherapy (Why Move from Individual to Group)

When beginning psychotherapy, individual therapy is often the therapy of choice because of the importance of developing a trusting relationship with the therapist. Pioneer theorist Eric Berne asserts that once a good working relationship is established, progressing to group therapy may be the best next step. Why?

More support is available to work on particular problem areas (assertiveness, self-esteem, relationship issues with parents, indecisiveness, fears, …) since someone else in the group almost always has had similar issues and experiences.

Less pressure exists for each individual client to work equally hard each session. Less time is wasted; and clients discover as a bonus that they work along with the more active group member on their own related issues anyway.

What each client does with other people is immediately observable so information about interpersonal anxieties and difficulties learned in childhood can be directly available for consideration.

After one person has gotten into a strong feeling about something, it is easier for the next person to do so.

Working through a particular problem can occur right in the group. When a client makes a decision for a new behavior, there are people right there to practice on.

Support between sessions is available from other group members and the therapist does not have to be the sole giver of support.

Opportunities for more and varied “transference” reactions (i.e., assigning characteristics and motivations to others that belong to significant people in the past) to explore and revise.

More “strokes” are available for everyone.

More sources of information about what is going on in the counseling session are available, including about therapist-client interchanges.

More sources of information about external issues and resources are available.

Revised and adapted from Eric Berne