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Why do people seek counseling?
People come into counseling for many reasons. Some need to respond to unexpected changes in their lives, while others seek self-exploration and personal growth. When coping skills are overwhelmed by guilt, doubt, anxiety, or despair, counseling can help. Therapy can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping for issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of confidence, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, bereavement, spiritual conflicts, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks. People seeking counseling are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives.
What can I expect in a counseling session?
During sessions you are expected to talk about the primary concerns and issues in your life. A session lasts 50-60 minutes, but some people request longer sessions. Usually weekly sessions are best. Some people who are in crisis or extreme distress need more than one session per week, at least until the crisis passes. During the time between sessions it is beneficial to think about and process what was discussed. At times you may be asked to take certain actions or steps outside of counseling sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records. For counseling to "work", you must be an active participant in and outside the counseling sessions.
What benefits can I expect from working with a counselor?
A number of benefits are available from participating in counseling. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands. Counseling can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. Many people find counseling to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. The benefits you obtain from counseling depend on how you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from counseling include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communication skills–learn how to listen to others, and have others listen
- Getting “unstuck” from unhealthy patterns–breaking old behaviors and developing new
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Improving your self esteem and boosting self confidence
What if I don’t know what my goals are for counseling?
If you aren’t sure what your goals are for counseling, your first task is to figure that out. It may take several sessions before a direction is clarified. During the course of counseling your goals may change. However, establishing a direction for counseling will help you get the most out of the experience.
There is a confusing array of insurance arrangements. The first thing you do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
Do I have mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible for an out of network provider and has it been met?
- How many sessions does my plan pay for per year?
- How much do you pay for an out of network provider?
- What is your copayment amount?
Is counseling confidential?
In general the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a counselor. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there a few exceptions to this. They are as follows:
Suspected child, dependent or elder abuse: The counselor is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person(s): The counselor must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm him or herself: The counselor will make every effort to enlist cooperation to ensure safety. Without cooperation, further measures may be taken without permission.
What to do first - How to begin counseling
The first step is to schedule an appointment for your initial session. The first session is an opportunity to decide if you feel comfortable and compatible with the therapist. It is important to be able to build rapport with your counselor and feel comfortable asking questions of the counselor. It is also an opportunity for your counselor to assess and evaluate your needs and determine what kind of counseling you require.