Common Questions

Common Q's

How can counseling help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Counselors 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 supporting personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Counselors can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or help point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how you engage in the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a deeper 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 counseling
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communication 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 counseling?  I can usually handle my problems.  

"Could counseling be BENEFICIAL?" might be a better question. 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 assistance. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they could benefit from working with a professional, 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. Counseling provides long-lasting benefits; giving you the tools to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face. 

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

People have many different motivations for coming to counseling.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people seek assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Counseling can help provide some much needed encouragement and can help clients learn 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 attaining their life goals.  In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes. 

What is counseling like?
Because each client is different and has different issues and goals, counseling is unique to the individual.  In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history (especially anything relevant to your current issue) and report progress (or any new insights gained) since 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) at first and then less often later. My goal is to help clients become independent as soon as possible. Clients only keep coming for as long as they believe they are getting a return on their investment of time and money.
It is important to understand that you will get significantly greater results from counseling 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 counselor may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking counseling 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 (or masking) symptoms, therapy addresses root issues of our distress and the behavior patterns that impede progress. Sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being is best achieved with an integrative approach to wellness.  Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in many cases a combination of medication and counseling is the best course of action. 
Do you take insurance?

The whole health insurance landscape is currently very complicated, and this is especially true of mental health coverage. Insurance companies typically require mental health professionals to "label" clients with a diagnosis,  and often only a prescribed number of sessions are approved for each diagnosis. These diagnoses have the potential to harm clients, especially if the information is not secure. For this reason and others, I have chosen not to "accept" insurance.

Often clients (even those with good health insurance) choose to pay for counseling themselves to avoid the risks and complications related to insurance. I would prefer spending my time helping people rather than doing administrative tasks required by insurance companies. If you have insurance, but are still interested in working with me without going through insurance, contact me directly to see whether we can work out fees acceptable to both of us. I find that often I can work with clients for an amount near their copay amount.

I get around the insurance challenges and frustrations by being flexible with my clients about fees, and working with them for an amount they can afford. See Professional Fees and Insurance page

Does what we talk about in counseling 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 often not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office.   Every counselor 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 providing services to you (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 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 threatened to harm another person.
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