Common Questions About Counseling

June 15, 2015

 

Do I need counseling?  Counseling is often recommended for people when the symptoms they are experiencing are negatively affecting relationships and/or interfering with normal daily functioning.  You do not need to be “crazy” to benefit.  Most people who are seeking help are struggling with life problems, but the usual way they cope isn’t working.  Some people feel recurrent periods of dissatisfaction with their life and simply wanting more.  Some people talk to a therapist because they don’t feel like they can talk to anyone else about what’s bothering them.  Everyone we have worked with has a unique life story complete with hardships, successes and failures.  Counseling helps people cope with their depressed moods, anxieties, life changes, conflicts and reduce or minimize the costs of these challenges.  If often helps people to avoid the recurrence of such problems.

 

Sometimes life just happens.  Difficult, tragic and unjust events occur to us or to people we love and it is simply difficult to bear without someone to talk to.  There is no shame in seeking help.  Asking for help may just be the bravest decision.

 

Does counseling work?  If you are seeking counseling you are probably asking yourself some questions?  Does this really work?  How do I pick a good therapist?  The short answer is yes, counseling works most of the time for most of the people seeking it.

 

A more complete answer requires a review of the research.  Effectiveness studies point out the following:

 

Consumer Reports Study

  • Treatment from a mental health professional resulted in clients getting “a lot better”

  • Of the people surveyed who felt “very poor” when they began counseling, 87% were feeling “very good, good, or at least so-so” by the end of the survey

  • Of the people who were feeling “fairly poor” at the outset, 92% were feeling “very good, good or at least so-so” by the end of the survey

  • Long-term therapy produced more improvement than short-term therapy

  • Active clients fared better in treatment than passive clients

  • No specific modality of counseling did any better than any other

The preponderance of the literature indicates the following:

  • 75-80% of clients who enter therapy show benefit

  • Having a good, trusting, therapeutic alliance with a therapist contributes the most to clients getting better

  • The therapeutic relationship acts in concert with treatment methods, client characteristics and therapist qualities to determine effectiveness.

  • Counselors who are perceived as warm, empathic and genuine are most effective.

  • Clients need to recognize the importance they play in achieving a consensus on treatment goals in collaboration with their counselor

  • Counselors should employ real-time feedback to compensate for counselor’s ability to accurately detect client worsening in therapy

How do I choose a counselor?  The most important consideration when choosing a therapist may not be by the type of therapy, but your expectations of therapy.  Research and my clinical experiences show that if you believe that counseling can help you and you begin therapy with optimistic expectations, you are most likely to get better.  The connection you feel with the counselor can also make an important difference too.  If you see your therapist as genuine, caring, warm and able to achieve empathy with you, you are much more likely to experience an effective and rewarding experience.

 

Who benefits from counseling?  There are numerous reasons to engage in counseling, below are some of the more common struggles that bring people to counseling.

 

Depression

Divorce

Anger

Family of origin issues

Anxiety

Abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, sexual)

PTSD

Alcoholism

Recklessness

Conflict in relationships

Legal issues

Addiction

Grief

Self-injurious behavior

Parenting concerns

People in your life voicing concern

Custody issues

Lack of focus

CPS involvement

Wanting to change

Needing to talk

sexuality

 

How long does counseling take?  It varies; some clients need only a few sessions to achieve their goals, while others take much longer.  The decision whether to continue with counseling is always your alone.

 

What can I expect from my initial visit?  You will meet with me to discuss what concerns bring you to therapy.  This meeting should help clarify and identify your treatment options.  Our initial assessment should only take 1 session, but could take up to 2.  During this time, I may ask your permission to contact previous treatment providers to obtain past treatment information.  This will provide us with critical information to allow me to assist you more thoughtfully.  Additionally, this initial visit allows for an essential time period to ensure that I am a good fit for your personal needs.  Establishing a professional, therapeutic relationship with me is a mutual decision built on this premise. 

 

What can I expect from therapy?  Therapy assists in resolving personal difficulties and obtaining skills, insights, and understanding to adapt to the complexities of life with more contentment.  This occurs through regular contact with your therapist where discussions of the important issues in your life are aligned with goals and strategies to cultivate this contentment. 

 

What are your credentials and clinical background?  I have a M.A. in counseling from West Texas A&M.  I specialize in the following areas:

  • Children and Adolescents

  • Couples Counseling

  • Family Counseling

  • Individual Counseling

How do I utilize my insurance benefits to cover services?  Your health insurance plan may help you pay for therapy.  We accept most insurance plans and if we do not, we have options to work within your budget.  If I am out-of-network with your insurance plan, I will need to collect payment from you directly and you will need to submit for reimbursement from your insurance provider.  If you need a monthly statement for this purpose or tax purposes, I am happy to provide that.  However, you are ultimately responsible for payment of services rendered. 

 

What if I need to contact you before my scheduled appointment?  You may leave a message on my confidential voicemail.  I make every effort to return phone calls within 24 hours.  If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room for immediate care.

 

Are my visits confidential? The information you share in therapy is confidential and will not be disclosed with your written permission.  There are some exceptions to confidentiality including:

  • If you are at imminent risk to harm yourself or another person, the law requires me to try to protect you and/or the other person by informing appropriate individuals to maintain safety

  • If you disclose information pertaining to child or elder abuse, the law requires me to report this to authorities

  • If I receive a court-order for your clinical record or to testify.If such rare situations occur, I will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking action.

 

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