Frequently Asked Questions
Often prospective clients have several questions about therapy and mental health services. Below are a few answers to those broad questions.
1. Do I need therapy?
Therapy is synonymous with treatment and is a process of working with someone to help overcome an issue. Therapy may include art therapy, hypnotherapy, talk therapy, or other types of treatment. Often talk therapy may be referred to as counseling.
Most people come to therapy in order to receive help with some immediate stressor or life change, while others may come to therapy for help with a more long-term issue. Too often, there are negative associations with being in “therapy.” However, everyone needs help at some point in his or her life and that help may include talking with someone who specializes in providing counseling. If you are considering therapy, it is quite likely that therapy may help you resolve whatever issue(s) you are experiencing.
Therapy is there for those who want it and need it. Potential clients should work with their therapist to determine a treatment approach that will be most beneficial to them. Many professionals are friendly, knowledgeable, respectful, people who genuinely want to help individuals and families improve their lives.
2. What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker?
When it comes to therapy, many professions are involved in this type of work. While there are some differences within the broad training of each field, it is important that whomever you decide to see for therapy, you feel they are able to help you with the situation.
Most psychologists have had 4 to 6 years of specialized training in psychology that includes diagnosing, providing therapy, and conducting assessments. Psychiatrists have had specialized training in psychiatry, a branch of medicine related to mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are uniquely able to prescribe medication and make medication recommendations. Master-level therapists may have 2 or more years of graduate training in an array of fields and may be licensed to provide therapy as a Licensed Professional Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
The bottom line is talk to someone who has experience with your specific issues. Be up front with what you are seeking therapy for and ask them how comfortable they are with working with someone who has this issue.
For a more in-depth discussion check out http://www.veronicatonay.com/psychotherapist_types.html
3. Will what I share be kept confidential?
Confidentiality means that what you say will be kept between you and your therapist. Most things you share with your therapist will be confidential; however, there are some exceptions.
Adult clients (older than 18 by most state laws) exceptions are:
- If you become a danger to yourself (make a threat of suicide or act in an erratic way that may warrant supervision/hospitalization)
- If you become a danger to others (make a threat of homicide or act in an erratic way that may warrant supervision/hospitalization)
- If you make mention of child (below the age of 18) or elderly (above the age of 65) abuse and/or neglect. State laws regarding abuse and neglect may vary.
Minor clients (below the age of 18) exceptions are:
- All of the adult exceptions mentioned above
- Some states require that all minors’ parents/legal guardians have the right to know what is going on in therapy. Thus, the therapist, minor client, and parent must decide on what information will be shared and what information will be kept between client and therapist. Most therapists prefer to only break the minor’s confidentiality for the exceptions listed during the adult exceptions.
There are some unique situations where confidentiality is not permitted. Those situations are usually when there are legal proceedings attached to the client-therapist relationship. Thus, if the psychologist is hired by the court, is seeing a client in prison, or an in-patient hospital, there may be no expectation of confidentiality. A psychologist must disclose the non-confidential nature of the work and the client must agree to participate in the therapy knowing that their information can be revealed to others.
4. Will my insurance cover this?
Call your insurance and find out if you have mental health coverage. You should also find out if you have “out of network coverage” and how much they reimburse for therapy. Contact prospective providers and see if they accept your insurance. If they do not, then ask them for their rates. Most insurance carriers will reimburse some or all of the cost of seeing a therapist.
If you do not have insurance, you should look for places that accept sliding fee scale clients or places that have reduced rates. A sliding fee scale is a fee that “slides” according to a prospective client’s income or financial circumstances. Some cities have training clinics, free clinics, or community clinics that provide mental health therapy at reduced rates. Colleges and universities usually have counseling centers on campus that provide therapy to students enrolled in the university. These counseling centers may have a referral list for students who are graduating and are seeking to continue therapy upon graduation.
Cost of therapy may vary given the location of the treatment, the provider’s training, and the provider’s preference.
Resources are available for you if you are seeking therapy. Email me if you would like specific information for the DC, Maryland, and Virginiaarea. firstname.lastname@example.org
5. What can I expect in therapy?
Your first session is likely to be a little longer than a typical therapy session. It may be 1 ½ hours to 2 hours long. The first session is a time to explore what brings you to therapy as well as a time to gather essential background information. Often clients may feel like these questions have nothing to do with the current issue; however, a therapist may need to know this information in order to make sure that they can accurately understand the current problem. During the first session, you may go over paper work and fill out forms. The therapist should explain your rights as a client and the level of confidentiality. The first session is also a time for you to ask any questions that you may have of the therapist as well.
Following the first session, additional sessions are 50 minutes. Some therapists allow clients to have variable session times; however, most therapists prefer to have regular weekly meetings. Therapy is a type of treatment and as you would not tell your medical doctor how often you will take their prescribed medicine, it is not a good idea to try to lower or increase the dosage of therapy without first discussing it with your therapist.
6. How long will I need to come to therapy?
The decision to end therapy should be something that is explored within therapy. As a client, you might be aware of when the issues that brought you to therapy have subsided. Please discuss these feelings with your therapist to ensure that therapy remains helpful.
There is no specific start and end time for therapy. Some insurance carriers may only cover a certain amount of sessions each year. However, you should plan to stay in therapy as long you are being helped by therapy. It is important to note that it may take at least four to six sessions to develop a good working relationship with your therapist. To experience change in the issue that brought you to therapy may take even longer.