Frequently Asked Counseling Questions


How can therapy help me?
 
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. 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, your goals and values
Developing skills for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improving communications and listening skills
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence


Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.  
  
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
 

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?


People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods.  Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.   In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives. 
 
  
What is therapy like?
 
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual.  In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session.  Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development.  Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
 
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process.  The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life.  Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.   

 
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?  
 
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.  Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. 
 
 
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
 
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them.  Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers.  Some helpful questions you can ask them:

What are my mental health benefits?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician? 
 


Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
 
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office.   Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.  This is called “Informed Consent”.  Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
 
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
 
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.
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Links & Resources


National Crisis Hotlines:

Alcohol and Drug Helpline - Provides referrals to local facilities where adolescents and adults can seek help. Brief intervention. 1-800-821-4357

Child Abuse National Hotline, call 1-800-252-2873, 1-800-25ABUSE

Child Abuse: To report call 1-800-4-A-CHILD

Cocaine National Hotline 1-800-COCAINE

Children in immediate risk or danger 1-800-THE-LOST

Cyber Tipline for reporting the exploitation of children. 1-800-843-5678

Domestic Violence Resource Hotline - referrals for shelters and counseling in your area. 1-800-799-7233 1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Elder Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-8966

Friends of Battered Women and Their Children, 1-800-603-HELP

Kid Help - Children and adolescents in crisis will receive immediate help. Referrals to shelters, mental health services, sexual abuse treatment, substance abuse, family counseling, residential care, adoption/foster care, etc. 1-800-543-7283

NAMI Helpline National Alliance for the Mentally Ill 1-800-950-NAMI

National Youth Crisis Hotline 1-800-448-4663

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-25-ABUSE

National Mental Health Assn. Provides free information on specific disorders, referral directory to mental health providers, national directory of local mental health associations 1-800-969-6642 (M-F, 9-5 EST)

National Institute of Mental Health Information Line: Provides information and literature on mental illness by disorder-for
professionals and general public. 1-800-647-2642

Runaway Switchboard - National - Provides crisis intervention and travel assistance to runaways. Gives referrals to shelters nationwide. Also relays messages to, or sets up conference calls with, parents at the request of the child. Has access to AT&T-Language Line. hours. 1-800-621-4000

SAFE (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) 1-800-DONT-CUT, 1-800-366-8288

Youth Crisis Hotline: Crisis hotline and information & referral for runaways or youth in crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME, 1-800-448-4663


Helpful Links:


Center for On-Line Addiction
SAMHSA's Substance Abuse/Addiction
Answers to Your Questions About Panic Disorder
National Center for PTSD

National Anxiety site

National Anxiety and Depression Association

Depression and How Therapy Can Help

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

International Bipolar Foundation

Prepare Enrich

** Note: Not responsible for the content, claims or representations of the listed sites.