DO I REALLY NEED COUNSELING? 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.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COUNSELING?
With a counselor or therapist you can share whatever is on your mind and in your heart without worrying about being judged, criticized or rejected. The relationship you have with the therapist is a special one in which you can explore difficult issues and know that your secrets are safe. A therapist will help you sort through your feelings, experiences and questions. With a counselor’s support, you can become more comfortable with your feelings and with expressing them. You can gain a better understanding of your current situation and increase your knowledge about life choices.
HOW CAN COUNSELING HELP ME?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as stress management, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, grief, trauma, life transitions, or a new life limiting medical diagnosis. 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 COUNSELING 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
- Feeling better about yourself and more at peace
- Reducing stress
- Identifying goals for living the kind of life you would like to live
- Learning new behaviors and/or responses which may help you achieve your goals
- Understanding your own thoughts, feelings & responses better
- Understanding your loved ones better
- Feeling more connected with people in your life
- Having a safe and friendly listener; someone who is non-judgmental & supportive
- Talking in confidence about troubling or private concerns
- Working towards greater fulfillment and mastery in your life
HOW DOES COUNSELING WORK?
Therapy begins by taking a look at your life, relationships, and general mood to evaluate areas that you may want to focus on or shift. Your first appointment will include a questionnaire about your history, which also may guide you in establishing therapy goals.
Therapy works on many levels. You may notice some relief by simply having a supportive space to explore your concerns, feelings, or needs. Therapy also may lead to behavioral changes, such as improved communication or self-care. Finally, with deeper healing, old patterns evolve into new and healthier life choices and greater fulfillment.
Counseling provides a safe environment to share all your feelings. You will do most of the talking, and the counselor will ask questions to help you express your thoughts and feelings. The goal is that, as you identify your feelings and explore why you may feel the way you do, you and the counselor will gain clarity on your particular situation. The counselor will also teach you specific techniques and/or assign specific activities to help you overcome your presenting issue. Each counseling session is focused on you and what your needs are, so it is your responsibility to tell the counselor if there is something specific you do or do not want to work on in that session.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL IT TAKE UNTIL I FEEL BETTER?
Many people report that counseling can be helpful even after the first session. This may be because of the relief that comes from deciding to seek help, or an opportunity to speak about problems for the first time with someone who is impartial and nonjudgmental. Relief may also come from a variety of sources, including making changes in your thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and choices, and may take time to achieve.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE FIRST SESSION?
The initial session is the time for you to start to share your story, to talk about your goals and what you would like to change. Another important aspect of the first session is deciding if you and Melissa are a good fit. You are establishing a relationship that will become the foundation for working together. You will begin to figure out some goals; Melissa will begin to figure out how to help you get there.
The first session will also be a process of getting to know you and what you are hoping to get out of counseling. You may share as much as you feel comfortable. Melissa will mostly likely ask you questions to help the process and gather information. Towards the end of the first session you and Melissa can make a plan to address your goals. It is normal that you may feel a little apprehensive about your first session if you have not been in therapy before. However most clients report that they feel a great deal of relief at the end of the session.
HOW OFTEN WILL WE MEET?
In general, approximately twelve weekly counseling sessions are recommended to begin with, but on many occasions more or less are appropriate. Clients are encouraged to take an active role in determining how many sessions are needed, depending on their goals and level of distress. The length of treatment also depends on the issue(s) presented and the level of severity.
The first few sessions will focus on evaluating your strengths, mental health needs, and goals and developing an effective treatment plan to meet your needs. If you have a crisis and you need to meet more often, you and Melissa may meet as often as twice a week. But, most people meet with their therapist once a week for at least twelve weeks. After that, you may meet less often for a few more months or as long as a few years before mutually agreeing to terminate treatment.
WILL I HAVE TO TAKE MEDICATION?
Being seen for psychotherapy by a counselor does not necessarily mean you will need to take medications. Many psychological problems can be successfully treated without the use of medications. If you and your counselor decide that medications should be considered as an adjunct to counseling, your counselor will discuss referral options with you. You will need to see a physician (such as a psychiatrist) to be prescribed any medications. It is important to let your counselor know about any medications you have already been prescribed.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT COUNSELOR IS RIGHT FOR ME?
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the therapist and feel heard and understood. It is important for you to ask if the therapist has experience working with the type of issues for which you are seeking assistance. The therapist should be able to summarize his or her understanding of the issues you want help with and have a preliminary plan of action. If for any reason such as scheduling conflicts or not being able to meet your specific needs, then your counselor can refer you to a counselor who is a better fit.
WHAT IF I FEEL LIKE COUNSELING ISN’T HELPING?
It is very important that you provide feedback to your counselor about what is or is not helpful. Much like your academic lives, counseling gives back what you put into it. Your work in counseling will be most effective when you and your counselor solve problems together, which means you will need to let your counselor know when something is troubling you, even if the trouble is something about your counselor! Although this can be difficult to bring up, experience has shown that such direct conversations can lead to special insights, improved working relationships, and novel opportunities for personal growth.
IS WHAT I SAY CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes, Melissa keeps everything you discuss in the strictest confidence. All client-therapist conversations are private and confidential. It is also confidential information that a person is even meeting with a counselor. Information is only released with your informed, voluntary and written consent.
Only in rare exceptions when the safety of a client or other is at risk can disclosure of confidential client-therapist information take place. However, there are a few circumstances under which I am compelled to release information by law. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child, dependent adult or elder abuse or neglect. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
- When the court subpoenas professional records.
MISSED APPOINTMENTS & CANCELLATION POLICY
It is important that you regularly attend your scheduled appointments. When there are missed sessions, it can cause a lapse in our work which may result in delayed progress. Melissa understands that there may be extenuating circumstances and can certainly make exceptions for them, but please understand that your appointment time is reserved for your work together. For these reasons, she requests 24 hours notice for cancelled appointments in order to avoid a cancellation fee.
Debit/Credit-American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa, Health or Flexible Savings Accounts
CAN I USE INSURANCE?
While Melissa chooses not to take insurance, counseling sessions do qualify as medical expenses for the purpose of lowering your taxable income.
Additionally, tax laws have created new programs that may help you pay for your therapy, even if you self-pay. These include Medical Savings Accounts and Pre-Tax Flexible Spending Medical Accounts. You can also deduct the cost of therapy from your taxes if you itemize deductions. It is a medical expense. Ask your C.P.A. or Compensation and Benefits Administrator to see if you qualify.