Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is counseling right for me?
A simple reason to seek professional counseling is because a person is somehow stuck and their normal ways of getting unstuck are too slow or not working. Similar to seeking a medical doctor when physically sick, people start counseling to get better mentally or spiritually.
While it is a personal choice, there many practical reasons to see a professionally licensed therapist:
- Knowing your therapist has been trained in an accredited counseling program, then screened by a state licensing board, in order to show they know the basic differences between one issue and another common to the profession.
- Therapists are familiar with solutions and options that other people, who do not deal with such things regularly, would not know.
- You're guaranteed privacy. Licensed therapists are bound by strict legal and ethical guidelines and can lose their license for violating them.
- Relying on someone with a positive history of effectively helping others using proven methods and resources.
- A professional therapist can consult with other professionals, such as psychiatrists, family doctors, other therapists, school counselors, probation officers, case workers, lawyers, and pastors.
Sometimes counseling helps deal with long-standing psychological, relational, or spiritual issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times, it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or a work transition. Many seek a therapist as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a counselor can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Counseling can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, sexual issues, family problems and general life transitions. Counseling is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
2. Different Types of Counseling offered:
- Individual / Couples / Family Counseling. Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” this type of counseling is composed of an intentional interpersonal relationship between counselor and client to aid a client through problems and life issues. In individual counseling, the client may be a couple, friends and/or family members. Depending on the presenting problem and individual needs of the client(s), different techniques and strategies may be employed throughout the duration of counseling. The family system and interactional patterns may change based on the needs of the clients. Art, music, and/or recreation may also play a role in counseling.
- Play Therapy. Most commonly used with children, who naturally express themselves through play. They are given an opportunity to work out their feelings and experiences through their natural language of play. It is not uncommon to use play therapy with adults, as well.
- Group Counseling. In group, one or more counselors meet with a small group of clients together as a group. Group process is explicitly utilized as a mechanism of change by developing, exploring and/or examining interpersonal relationships and practicing these skills in a safe place.
- Brief interventions. Not every situation requires in-depth work or time. Short-term solution focused help is appropriate in many situations.
- Consultations. Many other professionals, family and friends can effectively intervene with their employees / employers, leaders, church members, friends and family. Talking with someone who specializes in mental health issues, systems, conflict management, compulsions / addictions, and spirituality, especially from a biblical christian world-view, can help to better understand potential conflicts and minimize unnecessary further damage from those perspectives.
- Intensive interventions. Similar to in-patient treatment, intensive therapy can be done for a day, a weekend, or series of either to jump start the process and break through issues more quickly than traditional hourly sessions.
- Coaching / mentoring. This type of work is a normal part of counseling relationships as people progress through their life changes. Many people focus on personal growth and desire competent professionals to help speed them through the process.
3. What can I expect in a counseling session?
Every counseling session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. During each session it is standard to talk about the primary issues and concerns in your life. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts 50 minutes. Sometimes individuals who are going through a particularly difficult challenge may request more time per session or more than one session per week. Counseling can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of session, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. Between sessions it is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life. For counseling to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions.
4. What benefits can I expect from working with a counselor?
Counseling can provide insight and new perspectives into life’s challenges and can help create solutions to difficult problems. Many people find that working with a counselor can enhance personal development, improve relationships and family dynamics, and can ease the challenges of daily life. Sometimes, just having someone there to listen is helpful. Overall, research shows that counseling helps to reduce levels of anxiety and stress, decreased conflict, and improve quality of life.
5. What are some of the benefits available from counseling?
- Developing new skills for handling stress and anxiety
- Modifying unhealthy behavior and long-standing patterns
- Attaining insight into personal patterns and behavior
- Increasing confidence, peace, vitality, and well-being
- Improving ways to manage anger, depression and moods
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Navigating life’s obstacles more effectively
- Improving listening and communication skills
- Enhancing the overall quality of life
6. Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- Do I have mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per calendar year does my plan cover?
- How much does my plan cover for an out-of-network provider?
- What is the coverage amount per counseling session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
- Does your policy cover sessions with a New York state licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?
7. Is counseling confidential?
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:
- Child abuse. The counselor is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The counselor must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The counselor 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.
- Court ordered subpoena. If the counselor is ordered to testify in a court of law only information pertinent to the court case may be disclosed.
- Insurance Purposes. If your insurance policy covers your counseling the company can require full disclosure of all therapeutic records.