Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Below, you’ll find answers to many of the questions we are asked most often when individuals or couples initially consider counseling or therapy. Feel free to contact us with any other concerns or questions you may have that are not addressed here.
I’m not crazy—why would I need therapy?
Therapy isn’t just for the severely mentally ill. In fact, the vast majority of people who pursue counseling are normal, healthy people who happen to hit a rough patch in life, or merely successful individuals who need feedback from an objective observer. Virtually all of us at some point experience life problems we can’t solve. The question is, are you willing to put up with the pain or depression in the hopes that your problem will go away, or would you rather start doing something to make yourself happier?
How do I find the right therapist for me?
No one therapist will meet everyone’s unique set of needs. In addition, every therapist has a slightly different style, and you will find that you “click” with some, while others may leave you feeling bored, confused or irritated. Finally, some therapists are better at what they do than others, so you may want to interview a few therapists to ensure you find one who is competent and who also meets your specific needs.
A few questions you may want to address before contacting potential therapists include:
- What level of licensure and education do you want? (psychiatrist/MD, psychologist/PhD/PsyD, social worker/MS; marriage and family therapist/MS/MA)
- Do you prefer that your therapist be male or female, or does it matter to you?
- Does it matter to you how many years of experience the person has?
- Does the therapist’s age make a difference to you?
- Do you prefer a person with a similar background? (e.g., married, single, divorced, a parent, race, religion, etc.)
- Do you want a more listening-based style, or do you prefer a style of therapy where the therapist is more active?
- Do you prefer an individual, couples, family or group format?
Once you’ve met or spoken with a therapist, assess your emotions. Did he or she put you at ease? Did you feel heard and understood? Did they seem emotionally trustworthy? Did they appear competent enough to address your needs? The bottom line is: no one but you can choose the right therapist for you. Do your homework, trust your gut then take a risk. Finding the right therapist can be life-changing experience, so choose wisely.
If I’m entering therapy, will I need medication as well?
Often medication is helpful when used in conjunction with therapy, however not all people require medication to get better. Determining what is appropriate for you will require an assessment by a physician or psychiatrist, and we frequently refer clients for medical evaluation when physiological factors are indicated in their treatment.
Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists provide psychotherapy and counseling services but cannot prescribe medication. The network of therapists at Village Counseling Center works closely with prescribing physicians to coordinate treatment plans and provide feedback on medication effectiveness.
When is the right time to pursue therapy?
Many people wait until a crisis occurs before considering counseling, saying to themselves, “Oh it’s not that bad” until small problems grow into big ones. The disadvantage of this approach is that problems tend to grow increasingly complex over time— they rarely just go away by themselves. In the case of relational conflict, if left unaddressed, problems become compounded by bitterness, frustration and resentment until they may appear insurmountable.
The key is to address problems before they become overwhelming. If responded to early, problems in communication or decision-making can often be resolved quickly and painlessly in a few sessions.
How often would I come in for therapy?
Each case is different, but most people are helped by weekly fifty-minute sessions. In cases where time is a factor (e.g., there exists an impending deadline or important event), or when a client desires to accelerate the benefits of treatment, twice-weekly sessions may be appropriate.
Experience and research reveals that monthly or twice-monthly sessions are less effective, because too many events occur between sessions to be adequately addressed in any one session. The exception to this is nearing the end of treatment, where the frequency of sessions may be decreased as a way of “weaning” the client off of therapy.
I don’t want to be in therapy forever. How many sessions will I need?
Again, each case is different, but many people find counseling helpful after as few as one or two sessions. Your problem may not be solved that quickly, but you should feel fairly soon into the process that you are at least pointed in the right direction, and also moving—whether quickly or slowly—toward your goal.
Traditional forms of therapy used to focus on the problem. They also tended to take years to show results. Newer styles of counseling, however, focus clients on solutions, which often speeds up the therapeutic process. Depending on the complexity of your problem, the amount of time the problem has been in place, and the extent to which you are personally committed to finding a solution, therapy could be as short as one session or it could require several months.
How much is therapy going to cost me?
If you have health insurance, your cost could be as little as nothing or as much as $40 per session, it all depends on your particular policy. Health care plans average $20 per session in co-payment fees from the client. If you do not have health insurance your fee may be $100 per session or more, though some therapists work on a sliding scale based on a client’s income level.
The crucial question to ask is, how much is your happiness worth to you? There are many problems where, if you could be guaranteed of their resolution within a few months, you might be willing to pay $1000, or even $2000. Often the cost is dwarfed by the lost work time, income, or emotional stress we experience because of the problem. If we can visualize what our lives would be like without the problem, often we begin to view the few dollars we may have to pay for therapy as a wise investment. Let’s face it, life is too short to waste even one day being unhappy. Therapy isn’t the answer for everyone, but it may be part of the answer for you.