Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a typical session and how many times a week should I come?
A standard session is 45 minutes for individuals. I generally recommend that the initial session for couples and families be extended to 90 minutes, but I understand that finances may dictate otherwise since insurance plans will not cover a 90-minute session. Most clients attend sessions once or twice a week in the beginning, then less frequently as time goes on. The number of sessions depends on your current needs.
How long will I be in counseling?
The length of time a client is in counseling depends on the nature of the problem and the goals of the counseling. Some clients have a very specific problem that can be worked through in a set course of counseling. For others, counseling is an ongoing learning process and they choose to receive counseling for a longer period. And remember, be patient! Sometimes, ironically, the most "productive" therapy session or time while you are in therapy is when you feel frustrated or even depressed.
What if I want couples counseling, but my partner won't come?
Unfortunately, at times one partner is not as willing as the other to come in for counseling. However, we often find that it is possible to improve the relationship with just one person involved in counseling.
Do I need to take medications?
As a psychotherapist, I am not legally allowed to prescribe medications. However, based on a joint assessment of problems you are facing, it may be advisable to consult with a psychiatrist to determine whether medication is warranted. Typically, clients see someone under their health insurance coverage or I can refer you to a qualified psychiatrist.
What makes therapy successful?
In short, you make therapy successful. Effective psychotherapy usually costs more than money. Psychotherapy is a professional service that involves a relationship with a skilled practitioner who is there solely to understand you and to help you deal effectively with your issues and grow into your own. A self-help book or an occasional workshop will cost you much less in time and money than psychotherapy. However, studies have indicated that although education (such as a workshop or a book) can be extremely helpful (particularly for people who are already in therapy), clients report better results when they participate in long-term, rather than short-term, therapy.
Psychotherapy does take a commitment on both sides. As such, I try to limit my client load in order to be more fully present for each and every client throughout the work week. Additionally, I have found over the years that the more consistent (and sometimes frequent) the client is in attending their sessions, the greater and quicker their progress. Likewise, when I agree to work with a client, that time is reserved for that person and I don't give that hour to someone else unless appropriate notice is given. So even when you miss a session, you still know that I have reserved an hour in my schedule for the following week when you return. In fact, some clients who have been unable to make it to the office during any given week will arrange to have their session via telephone or video conference. I do, however, typically prefer face-to-face sessions, as a big part of therapy involves nonverbal cues (especially during couple sessions) that I might otherwise miss during a telephone or video conference session.
In short, clients commit to their readiness to change by attending every session. The frequency of visits differs from client to client, but most people start psychotherapy by scheduling one session per week. It is also important to start and end each session on time. But most importantly, you need to bring a willingness to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You may want to prepare for your session, in your mind, on your way to my office. Some clients find it helpful to keep a diary of thoughts and dreams as a way to review the past week. The work you do in and between sessions is another important part of your investment in psychotherapy.
So, you need to decide whether you are ready to invest a certain amount of money each week and, more importantly, to invest a certain amount of your PSYCHIC time while we would be working together. Therapy is hard work, and it's an investment in your mental health. The rewards, however, can be invaluable!
Change is inevitable; we will always exist in the midst of it. It is our choice whether we will be its victim or its architect.
- Merikay McLeod