How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, low self-esteem or chronic anger and irritability . Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage and blending family 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. 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 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, 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 for your 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.
Even if you are the only one coming to counseling for a relationship issue, by changing yourself and how you participate in the relationship, things will inevitably change for the better. Indeed, the only part of the equation we can control is ourselves, not other people. So start with yourself, even if you wish others would join you in counseling. It is my experience that partners and family members will often join in the change process when they feel warmly invited in to a safe, therapeutic setting with an experienced, compassionate professional guiding the conversation.
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 to bring about greater inner peace and satisfaction.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In the first session, I will ask about your current concerns, the events surrounding what led up to deciding to come for counseling, and a bit about your life generally. I also want to know what your goals are so that I can target my suggestions for moving forward toward meeting those goals. My goal is never to find blame or "who's at fault," rather I want to understand as fully as possible how you feel and see things, and in relationships to help everyone feel understood and respected.
After the first evaluation session, the focus of followup counseling sessions depends on your target goals. We might discuss the current events happening in your life - such as what is happening in your relationship or at work, and report progress or new insights gained as a result of previous sessions. We may discuss your personal history relevant to your issue so that I can help you make connections regarding how a past event or relationship led you to a coping strategy or pattern in the present. This kind of insight can be freeing by allowing us to see how what we did in the past made sense then, but we can let go of it because it no longer serves us in the present.
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 typical to schedule regular sessions with your therapist, usually weekly to start. I often will meet weekly for a month or two with an individual or couple, and then begin to space sessions farther apart once they feel more "on track" toward their goals.
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 relevant book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors, having focused conversations with others, or taking action on your goals.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to depression, anxiety and other emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the physical symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that interfere with success and happiness. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. For clients suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia and similar symptoms, I often recommend seeing your medical doctor for relief of symptoms, while we addresss the contributing factors in your life. The research supports this combined approach of "talk therapy" and medication as the most effective approach for depression, for example. For clients who prefer not to take prescription medication, some report relief from acupuncture or herbal treatments, as well. I also teach my clients how to have a mindfulness practice, which has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing stress, depression and anxiety.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
I do not accept insurance copayments. Clients pay me in full at the time of service and then can be reimbursed by their insurance. I can submit claims to your insurance company for you based on your Out of Network benefits. Usually you will have a separate deductible to satisfy each year for seeing Out of Network providers.
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, call your insurance company's member's coverage number directly. 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 my reimbursement amount for a 45-minute therapy session with a doctoral level, licensed psychologist?
- Is there a limit to the number of therapy sessions my plan covers?
- What is the deductible for my out-of-network benefits?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
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, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission. Please be advised that when you request for me to submit insurance claims or release information to another professional, I cannot safeguard your information once it leaves my office.
Missouri state law and professional ethics require Licensed Psycholgists 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 imminent danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.