What is Counseling?
Counseling and/or therapyis a way for people who are having problems that they can’t handle, can’t control, or just don’t know how to deal with, to find help from a trained professional. There are many types of counseling. We will deal with talk therapy. A person goes to a counselor because he/she can’t find the answers to a problem. A counselor will listen to the problem and ask probing questions to get at a deeper level of what is going on. The therapist will then either explore with you ways that you can change your thinking about the issue or teach you skills so that you can correct this concern on your own.
What is the difference between counseling and therapy?
We will be using the words counseling and therapy interchangeably. There are many different kinds of counseling such as career counseling or debt counseling. There are also many types of therapy like physical therapy or gene therapy. We will be talking about the psychological types of counseling and therapy.
How can it help me?
Therapy can help alleviate emotional pain and suffering. It can teach you new skills with which you can successfully deal with the problems at hand. It can save a marriage. It can help increase your self esteem. It can give you hope that there is a better way, or a way out. It can do all these things and more. The only thing it can’t do is change you. You have to do that by yourself. You have to take the skills or new ideas and put them into practice in your life. We continually tell our clients that unless they take what they learned and put it into practice out in the world, counseling will do them no good.
How do I locate a therapist?
The best way to locate a therapist is through a referral. It can be from a friend, your doctor or your clergy. The best referral will always come from someone who has had a successful relationship with a therapist. They will be able to tell you what the therapist is like and what you might expect from the sessions. Other referrals can be second hand from people who have heard good things about a particular therapist. Some clients will get a list of therapists covered by their insurance company. If none of these options have worked, the last resort is to usually head to the Yellow Pages. When you search the Yellow Pages you tend to have to go on a gut feeling. You call a few people and interview them, then base your decision on this brief encounter. Use our information on “how to interview a therapist” page to help you make a decision.
What can I expect to pay for counseling?
The range is enormous. You can pay as little as $10 a session from an agency or through an insurance co-pay all the way up to $250 per session and more for someone who is very good or well known (they don’t always go together), or who works in an exclusive area. No matter what the cost there is a wide range of expertise and knowledge within each price range. We highly recommend researching the counselor as thoroughly as possible and making your final decision based upon who you feel most comfortable with when you do your phone interviews. How you feel on the phone will be a good indicator of how you will feel in the sessions.
Is low-cost counseling available?
Yes! Your first option is low cost counseling provided by county mental health departments. They usually have a staff that will see you for a very low fee. Look them up in the county government pages of your phone book under mental health. The second is low fee counseling centers. They usually don’t advertise but if you interview therapists and tell them you need something less expensive they should be able to point you in the right direction. Next are schools. If you have any colleges in your area that have graduate degrees in psychology, they usually have low fee counseling centers where students train to become therapists. Last but not least are your local churches. Ministers and pastors are trained in counseling and usually offer their services free of charge.
What does successful counseling look and feel like?
Successful counseling feels like something has changed, something is different. You feel more hope and self-confidence. You are trying out new behaviors and they are working. The way successful therapy looks is other people begin to comment that something about you seems different. Maybe they don’t know what has changed in you, but you feel better to be around. You will also notice that you are having different results from actions that in the past would not have gone so well. In the end, you will always be the one to make the decision about whether therapy has been successful or not.
What do I do if it’s not helping?
The first thing you do is tell your counselor. Explain what is not working and why. Discuss things that have worked in the past. If the counselor gets defensive it may be time to look for someone else. But it is important to reflect on what your therapist says. The reason we need counseling from time to time is that we can’t see our self defeating thoughts or behaviors and it sometimes takes an impartial observer to point out to us what is obvious to others.
How do I know when I am done?
You will feel done. Most of the concerns and anxiety that brought you into therapy will have dissipated. You will have learned coping skills and new behaviors to deal with any issues that may persist. Your therapist should be able to give you feedback about your decision and discuss whether or not they feel you are ready to terminate. Ultimately the decision is in your hands.