Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling

Is counseling the best choice for me?

Seeking help from a mental health professional is an individual decision. Couples and individuals seek help for varying challenges/difficulties, psychological issues, and situational anxiety/depression. Some for transitions in their life or career and others for personal growth and introspection. The advantages of counseling include increased insight, guidance, and ‘game plans’ for challenges and transitions. Counseling addresses different issues including mood/anxiety disorders, relationship conflict, ineffective communication, grief/bereavement, and managing stress. Counseling is right for you if you are interested in facing your problems and issues, developing self-awareness, and positive change in your life.

 

My friends and family have suggested counseling. In the past I was able to deal with my problems. Why now?

Part of life is about  dealing with challenging situations and transitions. In the past you may have worked through your problems. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we have the resources and strengths to deal with our problems. If you need help, it is reasonable to seek guidance to help you access your personal strengths and resources. In reality, individuals and couples who  recognize they might benefit from guidance and support, are already steps ahead in their ‘journey’. Give yourself credit for accepting responsibility for your direction in life and committing to change. Making the decision to begin your ‘journey’ in counseling will help you in the long-term. Counseling will provide you new tools to challenge and change unproductive beliefs and patterns, try new behaviors, and face  and overcome future challenges.

 

How can counseling benefit me?

In a supportive environment you will focus on creating solutions, developing coping skills, exploring family of origin issues, addressing conflicted relationships, dealing with loss/grief, and stress. Many of my clients have reported that counseling cultivates personal growth and relationships, while addressing family issues, and the challenges of life. As your counselor I will help you develop new perspectives while guiding you towards solutions. The progress you make in counseling depends on your commitment, practicing skills and implementing strategies after counseling sessions. With commitment and practice you can benefit from counseling.

Counseling Benefits:

  • Values clarification
  • Improved and more rewarding relationships
  • Solutions and strategies to problems/issues
  • Stress management
  • Skills for emotion regulation
  • Improved communication skills
  • Developing healthy/productive behaviors
  • Improved self-esteem and self-confidence

 

What can I expect in counseling?

Counseling sessions are structured but are also unique. Each session will focus on the individual/couple’s primary goals for counseling. Weekly sessions are scheduled but sometimes clients may benefit from more frequent sessions,  Sessions  last 45 – 50 minutes. If desired longer sessions can be scheduled. As progress is made in counseling, sessions may be scheduled bi-weekly and then monthly until the client achieves their goals . Counseling can focus on one issue or multiple issues, be short-term or longer-term depending on the needs and objectives of each client. In between sessions you will be asked to do homework, ‘experiments’, and try new behaviors. Homework might consist of assigned readings, journaling, or keeping thought and behavior records. It is very important to practice and integrate what is learned in your daily life in between sessions. If you actively participate during and between sessions counseling will be more productive.  Here is what you can expect during counseling sessions:

  • Compassionate and supportive environment
  • The highlighting of unproductive thoughts, patterns and behaviors
  • Strategies for positive change
  • Guidance coupled with effective interventions/techniques

 

Psychiatry and Counseling – Why can’t I just take medication instead of counseling?

Medication helps many of my clients. However, medication is often part of the solution and not a panacea. Research indicates that counseling and medication coupled together benefits clients more than taking medication alone. Research has also shown that certain therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to be just as effective as medication in treating some disorders.  It is important to understand that if you are prescribed medication that you take the medication as prescribed, inform me of changes in medications, dosages, or discontinuing medication. In addition, it is important to discuss with me and your prescribing physician of any side-effects caused by your medication(s).  It is extremely important to take your medications as prescribed and not to change dosages or discontinue medications unless you are doing this with the knowledge and approval of the prescribing physician.

 

What about confidentiality? Florida Statutes and confidentiality

As a mental health professional I am bound by the law and my professional code of ethics to protect the confidentiality of my clients. This includes all communications between me and my clients. In general, I will not disclose any information and details about your case without your expressed, written permission. However, I am bound by the law and my code of professional ethics to waive confidentiality for the following reasons:

  • Suspected abuse committed or perpetrated on a minor, elderly person or disabled person. I am required by law to report suspected abuse to authorities immediately.
  • If you are planning to harm yourself  or another person, I am required to notify the police immediately. If a client intends to cause bodily harm to him/herself or another person , I will try to discuss the situation with the client while ensuring their safety. However, if the client refuse to cooperate, other action(s) may be taken.
  • Occasionally clients are involved in the legal system. Confidentiality may be waived if I am subpoenaed by attorneys or the courts. I also remind clients that if they are involved in a court case it is probably not in their best interest to have me testify on their behalf. If I testify in court I am bound to answer all questions truthfully regardless if it benefits or hurts my client’s case.

Please undersand when using insurance for counseling that the EAP/insurance company is allowed to to review your files including your diagnosis.

 

More questions about counseling?  Please contact me. I will be pleased to explain how counseling works in more detail, in addition to  any specific issues/concerns to help you decide if counseling is the best choice for you.