Frequently asked questions for new clients

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How can therapy help me?

There are numerous benefits to participating in therapy or counseling. Many people find that counselors can be a great asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a new perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution.  The benefits you obtain from participating in therapy certainly depend on how invested you are in the therapeutic process. Some of the benefits include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your goals, values, and beliefs
  • 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 challenges
  • Improving communication, assertiveness, and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your marriage or family
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy?

Everyone experiences difficulties in life. While you may have successfully worked through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, those who seek therapy have enough self-awareness to recognize that they need a helping hand. That is something to be admired. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, change damaging patterns, and overcome challenges.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it's right for me?

People have many different motivations for participating in therapy. Some may be going through a major loss or life transition (unemployment, divorce, graduating, new job, new baby, death of loved one, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances as well as they’d like. Some people need support managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, or spiritual conflicts. Therapy can help provide some much needed support, encouragement, and help with skills to get them through these difficult 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.

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different issues and different goals, therapy will be different for every individual, couple, and family.  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 or bi-weekly to start).

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, your therapist 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 are willing to take responsibility for their lives and their futures.

Does going to therapy make you weak or flawed?

Going to therapy does not make you weak or flawed. In fact, asking for help takes courage and strength of character. By beginning therapy, you are choosing to make changes to better yourself and your life. This is no different then you making a choice to consult a doctor for a physical ailment or massage therapist for muscle pain. Seeking therapy is a way of taking responsibility by accepting where you are at in life and making a commitment to change the situation.

Which is better, medication or psychotherapy?

It is well established in research that psychological, emotional, and relational problems cannot be solved solely by medication over the long-term. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the reasons for your distress and the behavioral patterns that curb your progress.

In some cases, you can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to treatment. With the support of your therapist and your family physician or psychiatrist, you can determine what is best for you.  In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

Do you take insurance and how does it 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?

Although we do accept insurance, we encourage you to consider the long-term implications of using your insurance for your sessions. Using health insurance for counseling has risks involved as insurance requires the therapist to give you a mental disorder diagnosis. Your diagnosis becomes part of your medical record which can affect your ability to obtain life insurance, disability or health insurance in the future. Also, it is important to remember that insurance companies often prefer short-term, technical interventions delivered in a few sessions which may not necessarily be the best treatment approach. If you are interested in therapy and would like to self-pay for sessions, ask us about our self-pay sliding scale fees.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and therapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. You can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or provide an update regarding your progress to other professionals (ie. your family physician, naturopath, employer, lawyer, etc.), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without first obtaining your written consent.

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 threated to harm another person.

What is your cancellation policy?

We ask that you try your best to keep your scheduled appointments. In the event that you are unable to keep an appointment, you must notify us at least 24 hours in advance (and 48 hours in advance for all new patient appointments). In addition, Monday appointments must be cancelled the Friday before.

If such advance notice is not received, you will be financially responsible for the session you missed. Please note that insurance companies do not reimburse for missed sessions.

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