How can counseling help me?
There are a number of possible benefits from participating in counseling. Therapists are there to provide support. They can help you with problem-solving, coping skills for dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, and stress management. Therapists can help provide you with a fresh perspective on difficult problems and can point you in the direction of a satisfying solution. The benefits you obtain from counseling depend on how well you put into practice what you learn during your sessions. 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 resolutions 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 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 therapy? 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, counseling is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand. That is something to be admired! You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change your situation by seeking counseling services. Counseling 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.
Why do people go to counseling and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for seeking counseling services. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), others are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much-needed encouragement and help with 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 with their goals in life. In short, people seeking counseling services are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in order to feel more fulfilled.
What is counseling like?
Each person has different issues and goals for counseling. Therefore, the experience of counseling will be different for each individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue(s), and report your progress or setbacks (or any new insights gained) since the prior counseling 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 deeper personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will gain more from counseling if you actively involved in the counseling process. The ultimate purpose of counseling is for you implement what you learn in your sessions into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in counseling sessions, your therapist will suggest things you can do outside of counseling to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking counseling services are generally ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives, and take responsibility for changing their behaviors and lives.
What about medication vs. counseling?
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 the symptom, counseling addresses the causes of your distress and the behavior patterns that curb your progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
I am currently in-network with Aetna, Magellan, Carefirst BCBS, & Cigna. If your insurance company that is not listed here then you will need to use your out-of-network mental health benefits (the insurance company will reimburse you once submit claims.) If you do not have out-of-network mental health benefits then you will have to pay out-of-pocket for your sessions.
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand your coverage. Some helpful questions you can ask your insurance company are:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- Do I have a deductible? If so, how much of my deductible have I met?
- Do I have out-of-network mental health coverage?
- What is the reimbursement rate for my out-of-network mental health coverage?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Are counseling sessions confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and therapist. Successful counseling requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matters that are usually not discussed anywhere but in the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidentiality disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in your sessions will not be shared with anyone. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your health care team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, it is important to note that therapists are considered "mandated reporters' and there are limits to confidentiality.
State law and professional ethics require therapists to report:
- Suspected past or present abuse/neglect of children, adults, and/or elders to the proper authorities (Child/Adult Protective Services and/or law enforcement).
(Please note that in the State of Maryland abuse/neglect is to be reported even if the perpetrator is deceased.)
- If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is in danger of harming him/herself (or has threatened to harm another person) then the proper authorities will be contacted. Also, if the therapist feels that another person's life is in danger then there is a "duty to warn" the intended victim of possible harm.
- If the client is involved in a court case and the therapist's records are subpoenaed.