Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy
Q. How do I decide when professional help is needed?
Emotional problems can range from mild to severe. These could include substance abuse, self-inflicted injury and thoughts of suicide to more routine issues such as difficulty sleeping, feelings of frustration, anger or fears that are bothersome and impact on daily living. Problems that disrupt functioning or create a significant change in behavior should be further evaluated by a trained therapist
Q. How do I choose a Therapist?
The relationship between a therapist and a client should be a good fit, with the client feeling comfortable, supported and understood by their therapist. It is always a good idea for a client to interview a potential therapist to ensure a good match. I recommend speaking with a potential therapist on the phone prior to making an appointment. Most therapists are used to this and comfortable with being interviewed. If you find a therapist has a problem with this, be wary. This is a relationship in which you must trust the individual enough to disclose your innermost thoughts and feelings, perhaps some you have never shared with anyone else.
Q. Do you have experience dealing with my specific problem/issue?
Many therapists specialize in specific problems or disorders. If a client is looking for help dealing with an eating disorder or substance use disorder for example, this is an important question to ask. Typically, therapists will assist clients with referrals to other therapists who focus on specific areas if they don’t work with a certain issue or disorder. It is alright to ask a therapist if they know of a therapist who has a level of expertise in a specific disorder.
Q. Where did you go to Graduate school and what degree did you obtain?
The therapist you are seeing should have graduated from an accredited university and be licensed at the highest level within the state in which they are practicing. Board certification is also recommended.
Clinical Social Workers should have a Master’s or Doctoral level degree in Social Work. Social Workers are licensed as an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) by the governing board where they practice. Social Workers do individual, group, family and couples counseling. Social Workers cannot prescribe medications.
Clinical Psychologists should have a PhD or PsyD and be licensed through the governing board in the state where they practice. Psychologists do therapy, and are also trained in psychological testing and research. Psychologists cannot prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists have an MD or DO degree and may or may not be board certified (having passed a special test in the field of psychiatry). Psychiatrists can also be skilled counselors, but are primarily medical doctors trained in prescribing psychotropic medication.
Q. What are your policies on confidentiality, missed appointments and insurance reimbursement?
Confidentiality is maintained in all circumstances with the exception of imminent harm to self or others, child or elder abuse, or a court order such as a subpoena. As a general rule, most therapists require at least 24 hours in advance for a cancelled appointment to avoid fees. It is the clients’ responsibility to know their financial responsibilities and limitations. If the therapist does not participate with your medical insurance, check with your insurance company to determine if you may have “out of network” coverage that may provide some reimbursement for your therapy costs. Most insurance companies reimburse for mental health therapy, including group, family, and couples therapy.