FREQUENTLY AWESOME QUESTIONS
It’s normal to have questions. Here are my responses to the most common questions asked in a consultation.
How can therapy (aka spilling my guts to a total stranger) help?
I get it – the idea of opening up about your deepest, darkest whatever can be realllly daunting.
When it comes to long-term, sustainable change, therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment. In part, because you no longer have to navigate the darkness alone. The therapy relationship is one of the most important factors for change. Yes, even more than specific modalities at times and there is ample evidence to support this.
Interdependency is part of wellness.
As humans, we have evolved to withstand life’s inherent traumas through interdependency. Not codependency. Interdependency. We thrive, as humans, when we can rely on and support others. And we learn how to support ourselves and others through the kind of support we’ve received.
In an ideal world we would feel all our feelings and let those feelings guide us in a regulated and attuned manner. This is what healthy functioning looks like (despite cultural norms around emotions).
However, we get stuck when we are left alone with unbearable emotions. This can lead to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and the like. When left alone with unbearable emotions, we adapt in ways that may serve us in the moment, but may not be the best in the long run. For example, we may avoid feelings altogether, pick fights with our partners, become a workaholic, turn toward alcohol or other substances, etc. You get the picture.
How therapy can help.
In therapy, we create a relationship (a unique one at that!) to help you bring those feelings up to be safely experienced and now responded to in the way(s) you needed before. With compassion, empathy, sincere belief, and support. This is how we release the past and free ourselves from having to “manage” all the freaking time.
And in this process, we also release your inner badass. That core part of you that is strong, fierce, knows what’s up and how to do life. In case you’re wondering, she’s the key to sustainable change – the kind that persists long past therapy.
I’m worried I might need medication, can you help with that?
As a Licensed Master Social Worker, it is not within my professional scope to prescribe medication, however I can support you in a number of ways.
My role in this process of exploring medication would be three-fold:
- I can help you explore what makes you feel like you might need medication and help you rule out other contributing factors. Further, I can help you identify other modalities that could help reduce symptoms, like therapy.*
- I can provide referrals practitioners who can provide psychological assessments and medication or alternative therapies, if that is more your thing.
- I can help you monitor your progress to more clearly assess if this medication/alternate therapy is helping you or not.
*Due to the growing support of scientific literature, it’s advised to pursue therapy prior to beginning medication for many mental health concerns. There are more and more studies showing psychotherapy to be as, if not more, effective than medication in the short term. Additionally, there is support for psychotherapy’s effectiveness at preventing relapse well beyond time spent in therapy.
Of course, there are moments when medication can be of benefit and my goal is to empower you to make an informed choice on the matter.
How long does therapy take?
Oh, I wish I could say you’d be done after 3 months, but it’s not that simple. Everyone is different. And different life experiences will benefit from different amounts of time in therapy. There are too many variables that influence time in therapy for me to give a concrete answer to that question.
But here’s what I can tell you – I’m committed to working myself out of a job with each one of my clients. I will be honest with you about what I notice and what I believe would be helpful. And, I make explicit use of my clinical chops to ensure that we are pacing therapy in a supportive manner.
What does that mean?
There are times in life when we have a lot to work on. Some challenges are more short term oriented and need immediate attention. Other challenges may need a longer term approach. If we get to a place where the immediate concerns are calm enough, yet I can see there are some longer term goals to work on, I will be direct with you about it. From there, we will work together to discern whether right now is the best time to work on those longer-term goals.
You don’t have to change everything in your life right now – life’s a journey after all. And, taking breaks from therapy can be an important experience to have as well. I’m your partner in this and I will help you find a path that is realistic and empowering of your short and long-term goals.
What does therapy look like?
What a big question!
In a logistical sense, we will meet weekly for 50 minutes per session. Depending on your clinical needs and goals, we may move to bi-weekly, monthly or as needed sessions. But for now, I would account for meeting on a weekly basis until we collaboratively decide to taper down on the frequency of our sessions.
What will we talk about in therapy?
The initial phase of therapy is when we are likely to do some exploration of your history – your family of origin, relationships, career/school stuff, you name it. This may feel onerous to rehash, but it truly helps inform our work together. Later we will focus more in the here and now while weaving in a greater understanding of how your past influences the present.
Additionally, I am an attachment-oriented therapist. This means that I intentionally work through the relationship to help you create the change you are looking for in life. In real time, this will involve me being real with you and also checking in about your experience of me and therapy in the moment. This orientation helps to make therapy an experience to promote long-term growth and healing.
Furthermore, I tell all my prospective clients that you are the leader here. If you come in, first session, and have something big going on that you want to focus on – we can abso-fucking-lutely start there. There’s no rule that says we have to begin by talking about your past. I trust that we will get there eventually.
How structured is therapy with you?
At times we may incorporate somatic or creative approaches or homework in our process. There is no obligation to do any of it. Your voice on the matter is important to me and this is your space. We will work together to determine what’s most helpful to you (whether that’s more or less structure) and we will roll with that.
How much does therapy cost? Do you take insurance?
The standard fee is $125 per 50-minute session.
SoCo Counseling, the practice I work under, does not take insurance. However, we can provide a Superbill for you to request reimbursement from your insurance company, if you so choose.
If you do want to seek reimbursement from your insurance company or use an HSA card to pay for services, I highly recommend calling them to understand your benefits first. Ask them about what your out-of-network benefits are for mental health services. And, ask if they would reimburse for services rendered by a Licensed Master Social Worker, as those are my credentials.
It’s also important to consider a few things in relation to using insurance. First, to request reimbursement from your insurance, I would have to give you a diagnosis. This diagnosis will be read by all relevant parties within your insurance company. This could be a lot of eyeballs. Given all of this, it’s advised to weigh if it would have any impact on you, personally or professionally. For a variety of reasons it may be important it may be to keep this information confidential.
Once again, my goal is to help you make an informed choice.
Do you ever work with people remotely?
In short, yes! There are many reasons why having video or phone sessions may be helpful. Like, living in a remote part of Texas, kids getting sick, or the lack of an elevator in our building (we are on the 2nd floor).
Because of this I do flex with my clients to offer video or phone sessions as needed.
To make this work, there are a few considerations we would need to take into account. Do you have a confidential space you could have sessions in? What kind of technology you can access? Are we able to feel connected enough on the phone or through video. Additionally, I am only able to provide services to Texas residents per Texas law.
If you are looking for telehealth, please let me know in the consultation and we will talk through these considerations together.