Common Questions

How can therapy help me?

 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. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on 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, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • 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

Do I really need therapy?   

The decision to seek therapy is a deeply personal one, and people come to therapy for many reasons. Often they notice certain patterns of thinking, feeling, behavior or choices that keep repeating themselves, despite their best efforts to change. Deep-rooted, often subconscious issues can keep you from having the quality of life and relationships you truly wish for.
At the same time, you have probably successfully navigated many difficulties in life, and I work with clients to  use the skills you already have in new ways, while adding new tools and insights. 

Facing and learning about the roots of deep issues can feel intimidating, even daunting. It's normal to feel some anxiety about beginning the process, and I take clients' concerns seriously, providing education and guidance about how therapy works.
Starting therapy can also mean taking responsibility and making a commitment to yourself and to the important people in your life. Often, clients find that others respect and admire the courage it takes to engage in therapy. 

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances as well as they would like.  Some people need assistance with self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Therapy can  provide  new perspectives, and a balance of challenge, encouragement and support to build new psychological  skills.  
Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.  
It is normal for people seeking psychotherapy to feel a mix of hope, eagerness for change, and also some uncertainty or fear about what change may mean in their lives.  

What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual.  In general, you can expect to talk about--in a confidential setting--events, issues, thoughts and emotions, memories and your own personal life story as it relates to the issues you want to work on.  You might talk about issues you don't ordinarily share with others, or talk in more depth about yourself than you usually do with friends or partners.

 Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development.  Weekly sessions--or more often as necessary--give momentum, structure and opportunity to delve more deeply and to resolve issues. 
In therapy, you'll see more results if you can commit yourself to active involvement in the sessions, and in the time in between them, where you can bring what you learn in session back into your life.  Depending on how much effort you'd like to make between sessions, I may suggest reading a pertinent book or doing exercises in a workbook (such as Mind Over Mood) journaling, keeping track of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and noticing the links between them. 
What about medication and psychotherapy?  
Therapy addresses the root causes of distress, despair, anxiety and depression. If appropriate, I may suggest to clients that they consult with their doctor or  psychiatrist for medication. The latest research suggests that psychotherapy can be as effective as some medications, and that for some conditions, therapy and medication together provide the best outcomes.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Usually,  clients pay me my regular fee, and  I  provide coded billing statements for you to send to your insurance provider. If your insurance covers out-of-network providers, you may be able to receive reimbursement for some of the cost of sessions.
You may want to call your insurance carrier to check on your coverage first. Some helpful questions you can ask them:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician? 

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components of good therapy, and I take it very seriously.  For therapy to be successful, clients need to feel a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subjects.   In the first session, I provide a written information packet about confidentiality and my office policies. What you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone, unless:

-You authorize me to share information with someone--usually another health provider.  But by law I do not release information without obtaining your written permission.
State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* You disclose suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, or elders which may need to be reported to Child or Elder Protective Services or law enforcement, based on information provided.
* If I have reason to suspect you are seriously in danger of harming yourself or have threated to harm another person.

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Ellen Case, MFT