What is the difference between therapy and counseling? Should I reach out for help?
How does counseling help? What should I expect in a therapy session?
What about medication? Can I use my insurance to pay for services?
Will my therapy and counseling be confidential? How do I determine a good match with a therapist or counselor?

What is the difference between therapy and counseling?

Therapy and counseling are very much the same. Typically, counseling focuses on immediate solutions to current challenges and therapy typically goes deeper into origins of behavior and thought patterns. Both have therapeutic value. Effective therapy and counseling provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to effectively manage triggers, re-direct old patterns into new more effective strategies. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. The referral process can also help with identifying potential other contributing factors to your concerns such as physiological sources such as metabolism issues or sleep patterns that can influence how we experience our energy level and moods. Many people find counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Counselors and therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits depend on a good fit in the working therapy relationship and how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, clarify your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving relationships
  • Finding resolution to lingering issues or concerns
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Should I reach out for help?

Asking for help is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people find therapy helpful. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing emotional issue, or problems with worry and depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes such as a work transition or change in the family such as a divorce. Many seek counseling or therapy as a way to support change they are already accomplishing for their own personal growth. Working with a therapist can help strengthen existing support, provide insight and new strategies for a variety of things. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions.

How do I determine a good match with a therapist or counselor?

Whenever you seek help from a therapist or counselor, the first visit is almost always considered an “intake interview”. Pay close attention to how you feel. It is normal to be nervous or uncomfortable at first. Although sharing personal information is never easy, you want to be sure that you feel like you can trust your counselor or therapist. Intake interviews are great because not only do they allow the counselor to acquire information from you about your unique circumstances, they also give you the opportunity to ask vital questions as well. Here are a few things you may want to ask at that first meeting:

  • Tell them why you are here and that you are looking for a good fit.
  • Tell them why you are seeking therapy and ask if it fits their particular skill set.
  • What kind of therapy would they suggest as most useful for you.
  • How long would they want to do therapy.
  • How much does it cost.

How does counseling help?

Everyone goes through challenges and while you may have successfully handled other difficulties, there’s nothing wrong with seeking extra support. In fact, therapy works best for those who have enough self-awareness to recognize they need a helping hand. This is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy By discussing what’s happening in your life, you allow yourself the opportunity to broaden your perspectives, consider alternatives and seek solutions. In addition to helping you process the experience of a traumatic event or difficult situations like loss and grief, ┬ácounseling can help you in the following ways:

  • Increase self-esteem
  • Increase effective communication
  • Increase pro-active negotiation skills
  • Increase relevant coping strategies
  • Increase awareness of strengths

What should I expect in a therapy session?

Every session is unique and is designed according to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. A review of your family and medical history will help identify possible contributing factors that might need additional consultation. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. Here are some things you can expect:

  • Compassion, respect, and understanding
  • A new perspective of persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Concrete strategies for positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
  • Referral and consultation (only with your approval) to help maintain a holistic approach to your care

What about medication?

The long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the associated pain they cause cannot be solved by medication alone. Working with your doctor can help determine what’s best for you. In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Instead of just treating the symptom such as headaches, fatigue, or depression, effective therapy will address the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that interfere with progress. Sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being can be achieved with an integrative approach to wellness.

Can I use my insurance to pay for services?

Call your insurance carrier and speak with a customer representative and ask the following:

  • What are my mental health or behavioral health benefits?
  • Do I have coverage for outpatient mental health or substance abuse counseling?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Do I have a deductible and if so, what is it and has it been met?
  • Is prior approval required from my doctor?

Will my therapy and counseling be confidential?

Federal and state law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and therapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are exceptions to this rule required by law. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapists and medical providers are required to immediately report this to the appropriate authorities.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist and medical provider are required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist and medical provider will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual remains at risk, additional measures may need to be taken.

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