How do I know if I need therapy?
People come into therapy for many reasons. Some need to respond to unexpected changes in their lives or have a sense of feeling "stuck" while others desire personal growth. When coping skills are overwhelmed by guilt, doubt, anxiety, or despair, therapy can help. Therapy can provide understanding, support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping for issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of confidence, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, bereavement, spiritual conflicts, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives.
What happens in the first session?
After filling out a few basic forms (insurance, new patient, informed consent), I will usher you into my office where you will have ample opportunity to describe the concerns that led you to therapy. I usually ask many questions to gain a fuller understanding of the problems presented: duration, severity, complications, etc. Everyone who attends is given time to share. I want to understand the distress you are feeling and where you feel stuck so I can best help you move forward. Our time ends with a discussion of next steps: when and how often to meet and what goals to work towards.
What if I don't know what my goals are for therapy?
If your goals for therapy seem unclear, then with my assistance, your first task is to figure out what they are. It may take several sessions before a direction is clarified. During the course of therapy your goals may change. However, setting a direction for therapy will enable you to achieve the maximum benefit from your time with me.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
During sessions you are expected to talk about the primary concerns and issues in your life. A session lasts 45-50 minutes, but some people request longer sessions. Usually weekly sessions are best. Some people who are in crisis or extreme distress need more than one session per week, at least until the crisis passes. During the time between sessions it is beneficial to think about and process what was discussed. At times, you may be asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping track of some behavior, thought, or emotion. For therapy to "work," you must be an active participant, both in and outside of the therapy sessions.
What if talking about my concerns overwhelms me or I feel worse instead of better?
Then we would slow down the pace or lighten the focus in a way where you could handle it. Therapy is very similar to getting physical therapy: sometimes moving a limb will cause pain at first as you seek to restore health.
What if I don't seem to be making any progress?
Feeling stuck or lack of progress would be addressed directly in order to make more tangible headway.
Can you guarantee I will feel better after therapy?
While I cannot guarantee you will feel better, in my experience your life will improve as a result of clear goals, motivation to apply yourself, and commitment to finish out a course of treatment. Therapy is often like going to the doctor or trainer: probing the source of pain can make it feel worse at first but being an active participant results in improvement over time.
How long will therapy last?
The length of a course of therapy depends on many variables and can range to a few sessions to over a year of weekly visits. Most clients are able to resolve their issues within several months.
How will I know if you are a good fit for me?
Usually you will get a sense of fit after several sessions have occurred. I am always happy to address any questions or concerns about the therapy process and my approach to treatment.
How available are you?
I am available in person Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 8:30-6pm. If it is a crisis I am available 24hrs by phone or email/texting.
What if the person I am having trouble with (spouse, sibling, co-worker, etc.) refuses to come to counseling with me?
Although such a situation is not optimal, you can certainly obtain support and improve your coping skills to handle your concerns. I have also found that the resistant party can often be engaged to attend therapy later on.
How will I know when to stop?
In collaboration with input from myself, you will know it is time to terminate when you are able to function well on your own.
What if I can't afford to come in anymore?
If there is financial strain, we can slow down the frequency of sessions or take a temporary break. Other options would be to consider low or no-cost counseling at clinics, chuches, online, or pursue community support groups like AA, etc.
What benefits can I expect from working with a therapist?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands. Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. Many people find therapy to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications skills - learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you
- Getting "unstuck" from unhealthy patterns - breaking old behaviors and develop new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
Yes, I am a provider for a select number of EAP, HMO, and PPO networks. There is a confusing array of insurance arrangements. You can check your own coverage or I can do it for you. If you do so yourself, check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- Do I have mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible, are there separate amounts for individual and family, and have they been met?
- When do my benefits renew? i.e. most are calendar year but some follow other timelines.
- How many sessions per calendar year does my plan cover? Changes to Federal law have led to most people having no limits on the sessions available
- Are there different levels of benefit for Severe Mental Illness vs. non-Severe?
- What is your copay for an in-network provider vs for an out-of-network provider? Do deductibles also differ?
- Is there a limitation on how much the insurance will pay per session?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are number of exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s. The therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
What if I have done something illegal?
As above, the ONLY actions that are reportable to the authorities are abuse, threats to others or oneself. All other crimes or illegal activities are kept confidential.