FAQ(S)- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COUNSELING / THERAPY
Many people have questions regarding the therapy process. To see the questions I hear the most, see the questions listed below:
~ How do I know if therapy is for me?
~ What happens after I contact you?
~ What is therapy really like?
~ What if my partner is not willing to come? Can my relationship still be saved?
~ What makes therapy successful?
~ How often and for how long do I need to attend therapy sessions to receive benefit?
~ How do I use my insurance for therapy sessions and what is the procedure?
How do I know if therapy is for me?
Research suggests most people wait until problems become too severe for family and friends to help. That's unfortunate, because seeking a therapist sooner can often help. So, how do you know if therapy is right for you? If you find yourself thinking things like, "I just don't know what else to do." "I feel like we've tried everything else." Or "I feel like I do not have anyone I want to talk to about (insert your situation)” it's probably time to make a call. Most people report some immediate relief at just making the first appointment and a great sense of relief after meeting with me for the first time. It can create a great sense of relief knowing there is a trained professional who feels confident in being able to help you facilitate change in your life.
What happens after I contact you?
I will personally return your call and will spend about 10 minutes on a phone consultation. This time will allow you to discuss your current situation with me and not just a receptionist. I will spend time with you on the phone in order to hear about your current struggle and to review with you the details of treatment including costs, insurance reimbursement, frequency of appointments, where my office is located and what to expect from therapy. I considers it a privilege and am honored have the opportunity to have each and every person who shared their story with me. I look forward to answering your most pressing questions and to explaining what therapy would look like for your particular struggle.
It is my personal policy to get back to clients (new and established) within 24 hours. Sometimes my days end at 9pm, so please let me know the best time to call and what number you would like me to call.
What is therapy really like?
While people have unsettling images of what therapy is like, counseling actually takes place in a quiet, comfortable, and confidential setting. My waiting room has comfortable chairs and a couch. I spent a great deal of time decorating and choosing the décor and furniture to create an inviting and safe place to start and end each visit. At the beginning of each visit, I will offer you water, coffee, or tea to enjoy as we meet for our session.
Appointments are typically 53 minutes in length, but double sessions can be scheduled as needed. In most cases, at the start of treatment, I schedule appointments at the same time each week. This eliminates any confusion of when we will be meeting for your next session. We will find a mutually convenient time. I feel this allows my clients to carve out and prioritize this time for yourself without having to ‘fit therapy into your schedule”. Initially, I ask that we meet on a weekly basis so that we can fully assess what is happening and develop a meaningful treatment plan with you in a timely manner.
What if my partner is not willing to come? Can my relationship still be saved?
Often the treatment starts with one person and then moves to the couple. Sometimes the way to change the relationship is to start with oneself. If one person in a relationship changes, the other is often motivated to change as well. Some of our work can be devoted to exploring your partner's hesitation, as you've experienced it, and find ways to communicate effectively your desire for him/her to come to counseling.
In chronically distressed relationships it can feel like the love is gone. However, what may be happening is that the conflict has escalated to such a point that the previous feelings of love have gotten buried and one or both partners are having a hard time accessing them. I often ask people in distressed relationships to agree to a 6-month (or other pre-determined length of time) commitment to the therapy process even if there seems to be no hope. It is possible during this time, with the appropriate level of commitment and the right treatment that the feelings of love will resurface.
What makes therapy successful?
In short, you make therapy successful. Not all therapy experiences are the same and the biggest cause of this is that each person is different and brings in different expectations, abilities and experiences into the therapy relationship. However, despite the fact that you are the determining factor in whether therapy is successful, there is a strong indication of the outcome based on the therapeutic relationship. The health and connectedness is the responsibility of both me and yourself. Open communication in the session around relationship dynamics positively influences your ability to have similar conversations outside of the therapeutic setting. This open communication creates what is called a corrective emotional experience and more authentic relationships. I will work with you to help you to understand what it means to be successful in therapy and what is in your control. Some people in therapy cannot even define what success in therapy means. If you don't take responsibility for your own mental health, there isn't much a therapist can do. Practically, this means:
~ Taking therapy seriously, as if it is a class you want to get an "A" in by doing the assignments the therapist assigns you.
~ Think about the session and what you and your therapist have talked about outside of the session.
~ Get family members or friends involved in your therapy experience, by talking about your sessions and assignments and tell them what they can
do to help you.
~ Keep a journal, writing down times when you feel like you have "slipped up" or when you feel like you are making progress, and keep it in mind
to talk about with your therapist.
~ Be patient–sometimes the most "productive" therapy session or time while you are in therapy is when you feel frustrated or even depressed.
~ Do one nice thing for yourself a day, and take one day a month to do something totally nice and fun just for you– therapy will be helped by your
appreciating yourself, making mental health more valuable.
~ Remember, therapy is hard work. It is an investment in your mental health, but just as in exercise the desired results are not always immediate, but with focus and intention the rewards can be invaluable.
How often and for how long do I need to attend therapy sessions to receive benefit?
Most people find that one session per week is just right – it provides enough frequency that the therapeutic process maintains a good continuity, yet there is time to digest the last session before coming in for the next one. There are also times when more than one session a week is indicated, such as during an internal or external crisis. Once the acute phase of the difficulty has been worked through, some people feel that a therapy session every two weeks is sufficient. The therapist and client maintain a clear view of the therapeutic goals to ensure that therapy sessions are used in the most efficient manner possible to meet those goals. Each person and situation is unique, so a specific timeframe for the length of a therapy cannot be predicted. However, a course of effective therapy that involves structural integration of growth and healing into a person’s sense of self can take anywhere between a few months and a few years, assuming the traditional once per week therapy format. Many people find that therapy is a lifelong aspect of self-care, similar to taking care of one’s physical health through good diet and exercise.
How do I use my insurance for therapy sessions and what is the procedure?
I am in network with Anthem- Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Optima, and TRICARE. If you have insurance with another provider, we can still work together on an out-of-network basis. For an out-of-network situation, you would pay me at the time of services and I will provide you with a statement, which you submit to your insurance company for direct reimbursement.
During our initial phone consultation, I will ask for your insurance benefits- this happens before our initial face-to-face session. I will contact your insurance to explore your benefits and communicate this information to you before our first session. I also ask that you be informed about your benefits. You can check with your insurance company on the reimbursement given by your particular policy.
I also work with clients on an out-of-pocket basis. This means that you would pay the full session fee. Your insurance provider would not be informed that you and/or your child is in therapy. There would be no medical information reported to your insurance company, but a physical record would be kept in my office due to my ethical and legal obligations as a licensed therapist.
~ Tree of Life Counseling & Art Therapy, LLC ~
~913 First Colonial Road, Suite 201 Virginia Beach, VA 23454 ~757-679-5553~
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