Individual counseling is a process in which the client and the therapist meet to explore areas of emotional and social difficulties which are affecting the client. These concerns may occur in school or in work performance, in relationships, or in everyday living. People seek out individual counseling to examine various aspects of their lives and the difficulties they may be having in solving some of their problems. The client and therapist collaborate to identify and work towards mutually agreed upon therapy goals.
Individual therapy goals vary and may include reducing depression or anxiety, improving self-esteem, enhancing relationship skills, and helping you manage and cope with emotions. Individual counseling can also help you to feel better and function at your best. It can help in achieving a greater understanding and perspective on life experiences (family upbringing, school peer experiences, relationship break-up, academic issues, death, separation, loss, and adjustment to life changes).
Individual counseling provides a safe environment for you to share your deepest thoughts and feelings without judgment. Individual counseling sessions typically last 53 minutes and meet weekly at a regularly scheduled time. Many people are able to communicate and work through emotions and experiences that might be difficult to discuss in other settings. As the relationship between the client and therapist develops, therapy provides a framework for an individual to achieve one's goals and experience the life the client desires.
Family counseling is a special form of psychotherapy that focuses on changes within a family system, and understands that family relationships have an impact on the feelings, behaviors and psychological adjustment of every family member. Because family therapists view the family as a system of interacting members, problems that arise in the family are attributed to the system rather than any one family member. Ideally, all or most family members are involved in the therapy process and attend therapy sessions. Family relationships are examined as the source for treating mal-adjustment in one or more of the family members.
When children or adolescents are identified as having psychological problems, family counseling is frequently the preferred treatment option. However, family counseling is also used when adult family members have psychological problems, which significantly affect other family members. In such cases, it is not uncommon for adult family members to seek additional individual therapy.
With younger children, therapists may recommend combining individual, parent, and family therapy sessions. The parent sessions may focus on behavior control, discipline procedures and managing specific behavioral problems. The child's session may focus on self-regulation, improving self-esteem, learning social skills and developing coping skills. The family counseling sessions can then, focus on all family members contributing to the identification and resolution of family problems.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, build 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--just to name a few. 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 therapy 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, marriage or career
- 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, 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 are 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. Research has shown that early intervention can help you resolve the problems more quickly and help to avoid adding new problems to an already challenging situation.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or 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 psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from 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).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy 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, I may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy 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 psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives. The more involved, committed and honest you are, the better and more quickly you will see significant changes in your life.
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 the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our 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?
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 their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
- Must I have a mental health diagnosis to be eligible for reimbursement?
Does what we talk about in therapy 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 usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist 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 on your healthcare team (your Physician, 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 past or present 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.
Will you participate in custody/legal disputes?
No. I will not voluntarily participate in any custody dispute or litigation in which a client is involved. The primary tenets upon which the therapeutic relationship is based are trust and confidentiality. That trust is easily damaged and the therapeutic relationship suffers if the therapist is asked to take sides, testify, submit to a deposition or present records to the court. I will not make any recommendations as to visitation or custody regarding my clients. As a rule, I will not give testimony or records unless compelled to do so by a court having jurisdiction over my practice. If my records or I am subpoenaed, records compilation, depositions and court appearances are billed at $200.00 per hour.
Will you complete custody evaluations?
Yes. If you have not been a client of mine, I can perform a thorough evaluation to assist you in custody recommendations. I focus on the best interest of the child versus what may be best for a parent. Please visit my Custody Evaluation tab for further information.