What happens in therapy?
Before you start therapy, you’ll get forms to sign. I send my forms electronically, some therapists will give these to you in paper form. Normal forms will cover the rules and policies of therapy, as well as how your information will be used. There should be discussion of payment (insurance, credit card, HSA, copays, etc) and how often you’ll meet. You will usually need to give your address, birthdate, contact info, and complete assessments that will measure your symptoms at the start of therapy.
Typically in the first session of therapy, you’ll do what we call an intake. This will be a series of questions that the therapist asks you to understand your situation, your symptoms, and what you want out of therapy. Questions will be around your relationships, your life circumstances, some medical history, your family, and any medications or previous therapy that you’ve had.
You have the right to say no to answering any questions that you find uncomfortable. You should not need to go in-depth and describe specific incidents of trauma or abuse if you do not want to.
Early on in therapy, most therapists will do what is called a treatment plan. This will be a list of goals for therapy that you and the therapist agree to work on together. It’s a good idea to think about what you want to get out of therapy to guide what these goals will be for you.
How do I know what type of therapy is right for me?
If you’re 100% new to therapy, you may want to google some common therapy types or ask friends what has worked for them. You probably have an idea of what symptoms you have, try searching “therapy for ___” (symptom type) and see what comes up. You can also interview therapists to ask them how their approach can work for your issues. Think about how you tend to learn, express yourself, and interact with others. Are you artistic? Abstract? Do you like lists, workbooks, or homework? Knowing these things about yourself can help you choose a therapist who will fit your needs.
Don’t get intimidated by all the acronyms. A good therapist will match their approach to what you need and will use a combination of approaches. However, if you have. a specific goal for therapy, (for example, grief over a loss) it’s a good idea to look for therapists that have experience in that area. Most therapists will have this in their bio and also be searchable by sites like Therapy Den or Psychology Today using these topics.
It is also ok to shop around for therapists, you can ask for a phone consultation to ask. a few questions before you decide on a particular therapist. Notice how you feel when you talk to them and your comfort level of opening up. You are absolutely allowed to have a session or two with a therapist to try them out and then later decide you don’t want to work with them anymore. You do have to pay any therapist you meet with for their time so you may want to consider your budget if you take this approach.
How does payment work?
If your therapist accepts insurance, the therapist will send a bill to your insurance company and you may have to pay a copay at the time of your session. The amounts will depend on your coverage. You can call the number on the back of your insurance card to determine what these will be.
I currently accept Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna insurances. I suggest people call their provider to learn what their plan covers for therapy as I can’t look this up for them and there are hundreds of plan types. If you don’t have an insurance I accept, I can send what is called a “superbill” to your insurance for them to reimburse your therapy costs that you pay out of pocket. Please contact your insurance provider to see if they allow you to be reimbursed via superbill as not all insurances allow this.
For therapy services I charge a credit or debit card on file using electronic billing. Typically your card will be charged within 48 hours of your session. The amount you are billed is based on a sliding fee which we will work out based on your income.
If you cannot afford therapy, there are resources. Check Open Path for low-cost sliding fee therapy or see if you qualify for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
I don’t want to take medication but I do want therapy. Will a therapist force me to take medication?
I won’t. I cannot speak for every therapy situation but I do not require clients to be on medication. My clients are all adults (over 18) and are voluntary, that means not mandated by courts or hospitals to see me. Those are both factors that may influence whether or not someone is required to be on medication by another party.
If you want medication, that’s great. I cannot prescribe it due to my license type but I can help you find someone who can. If you don’t want medication, that’s fine too.
If we are working together and I see that the problems you are facing may be helped by medication, I may suggest you look into this. I will not force you to take medication but if you experience problems that I cannot help you with (such as something that requires hospitalization or more intensive treatment), I may need to refer you to someone who is qualified to assist you as part of my ethical obligation to give you appropriate services.
I am feeling suicidal right now or I think I am going to hurt myself. What should I do?
If you feel you are in danger right now of harming or killing yourself, please contact a suicide hotline and get emergency services.
The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255 or you can contact them online via https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. You can also contact 911 and ask for a CIT trained officer. If you are outside the United States please contact emergency services in your area.
Emailing a therapist is not the best idea if you are in imminent danger as most of us are not available 24/7. Once you are stabilized you can seek therapy, right now it’s most important to keep you safe.
Someone in my life is treating me violently, controlling my movements, and/or threatening me.
If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, look for help on thehotline.org. If your web searches are being tracked, you may want to erase your browser history after seeing these sites.
Abuse is not your fault. It will likely not get better on its own and you need to protect yourself if someone is harming you. Once you are safe, therapy is a good idea. Couples therapy is not advisable for abusive relationships.
Photo by zenad nabil on Unsplash