How many sessions should I expect to need?
This is a very common question, but it is difficult to give a pat answer for it! Most people would like to feel better and solve their problem as quickly as possible and therefore hope to meet for less time than may be necessary. Of course length of treatment depends on many factors, including the severity and complexity of the problems, how long you've had the problem, and development of your relationship with your therapist. At the end of your first session with your therapist, he or she should be able to give you an idea of the course of treatment. For couples therapy, you should plan to come in at least six sessions, to give the therapy adequate time to show a change.
How frequently should I expect to come?
You should probably count on meeting with your therapist weekly for the first few weeks. Then discuss frequency with your therapist. Many times bi-monthly or even "as-needed" is adequate once the symptoms have stabilized.
How long is a session?
A session is 50 minutes long
Do you expect me to lay on a couch?!
No, unless you need to (like you just sprained your ankle in the parking lot!) Our counseling is done face to face.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the light bulb has to WANT to change!
When do I seek counseling for my marriage?
The earlier the better! Just as with a physical ailment in your body, the doctor can treat the problem much more quickly and effectively in the early stages. Some signs that you probably need counseling are:
- If you are past frustration to feeling bitter or resentful
- Lack of communication
- Lack of sex
- If you no longer feel love for your partner
- If there is any verbal, emotional or mental abuse, and DEFINITELY if there is physical abuse
A friend of mine needs counseling. What should I do?
Let your friend know that you care about him and that you have some concerns. Mention that you know counseling can help his problem (a personal story here helps!). Remind him that coming to counseling doesn't mean he's crazy everyone could find use in talking to a counselor and nobody is perfect. He does not need to commit to it, just give it a try! If your friend still resists, urge him to run his symptoms past his physician. Most medical doctors have no reservations about suggesting therapy if there is a bonafide psychological component to the symptoms.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who has specialized in psychiatry. Psychiatrists primarily evaluate the need for medication, prescribe medication, and monitor the patient. In addition, a psychiatrist can do counseling. A psychologist has a Ph.D. and cannot prescribe medication. They provide counseling as often as needed. In many instances (such as with depression) a combination of drug therapy and talk therapy is the most effective treatment, so you may work with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist.
How do I know if I need medication (such as antidepressants) and should I be concerned about taking medication?
You can discuss this with your therapist or psychiatrist during your visit. Research has proven that medication can be very effective in treating certain symptoms. Discuss all of your concerns with your doctor. Most medications are not addicting and have few if any significant side-effects. There is no blood test for diagnoses such as anxiety or depression. You will be interviewed by your doctor to determine if you have a diagnosis that can be effectively treated with medication.
How can I tell if my child has A.D.D.?
As with depression and anxiety, there is no blood test for A.D.D. (or A.D.H.D. - Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity). The parents, child, and often the teachers will all be interviewed and possibly given a measurement (such as the Connors Scale) and the doctor will use her best judgment as to a diagnosis of A.D.D.
Do you do assessments?
Yes, to a limited extent. Our doctors have done assessments for custody evaluations, disability status, personality factors, and various assessments for children, including intelligence testing. Please call to ask if we can supply the type of assessment that you require. We do not provide neuropsychological testing and can refer you to others for that service.
What if counseling appears to be too expensive for me?
First of all, most of our doctors are on multiple insurance plans, so it is likely that if you have insurance at least half of your bill will be covered by your insurance. Even if your River Valley doctor is not on your insurance s list of providers, your insurance will likely still cover the counseling at a lower percentage than it typically does. If you are paying out-of-pocket, we have the "SimpleCare" plan. This plan offers you counseling at the lowest possible price we can give you with the utmost level of confidentiality. Please see our link to SimpleCare
on the home page for more information. Finally, if you have some difficulties making payments, we can set up a payment schedule (such as bi-monthly, or an extended payment plan). If none of these approaches helps you, we can refer you out to lower-fee counselors. Remember that a true life change is invaluable!
What if I have an emergency after-hours?
All of the doctors at River Valley can be paged at any given time by our answering service if you have an emergency. When your doctor is out of town, he will provide coverage by another experienced professional.
How confidential is what I say in counseling?
EXTREMELY!! Your session material is completely confidential. There are only a few instances where by law your therapist must break your confidentiality. In cases of danger, such as indications of child or elder abuse, suicidal intent or homicidal intent, the doctor must seek outside help to make certain of safety. Also, there are certain subpoenas which a doctor must reply to, however these are rare. It is important to note that if you third party payment (such as health insurance) they have the right to review certain aspects of your treatment including diagnosis and progress.
What is EMDR?
Some of our doctors are trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a technique which is proven to be very effective in helping individuals who have experienced a trauma in their life which is still stuck in their mind. EMDR has been found to be helpful with other issues as well. It helps the mind process information in a new and accelerated way. Ask the receptionist which doctors provide EMDR so she can direct your questions to them.
Do you treat addiction?
Yes, we can treat addictions and compulsive behaviors as long as they are not extremely severe. We have a cooperative relationship with groups that offer more intensive addiction treatment. Addictions can be very variable, such as alcohol, marijuana, eating, shopping, gambling, sex, and relationships.
How do you define "addiction"?
Addiction occurs when you have crossed a line in the behavior. Some warning signs are:
- feeling the need to do the behavior to feel better
- thinking a lot about doing the behavior, to the point that it distracts you from your daily activities
- centering your life around the behavior
- getting into legal trouble due to the behavior
- building a tolerance to the behavior (need to use more, spend more, or do more to get the same thrill or good feeling)
- experiencing problems with relationships or job matters due to the behavior
If I go to counseling, does that mean I'm "crazy"?
Absolutely not! Often people have this fear, or believe there will be a negative stigma against them for going to counseling. However, many people go to counseling at some point in their life, it's just something that we don't tend to discuss a lot with others! Again, no one is perfect and we can all gain some insight and wisdom from counseling no matter what we are struggling with. If you had a broken leg, you would not hesitate to visit the medical doctor to heal the problem, rather than trying to heal it on your own. Although it is less tangible, a psychological matter can also limit your life and hold you back from achieving your potential, so it is wise to seek professional counsel in these matters, as well.
How much information does my health insurance need to know?
Health insurance companies vary in the information they need. At a minimum they will require your name, the name of your doctor, your diagnosis, and dates of service. They usually do not require session notes. If you need to request further sessions than those originally authorized, then the company may ask for details such as the nature and course of your symptoms, progress in treatment and future treatment plans. If you have concerns about insurance and confidentiality, please talk with your doctor.
Do you do couple's counseling? Will my insurance cover it?
Yes, we do couple's counseling but unfortunately most insurance companies do not cover it. Call your insurance company to check or discuss this with your therapist.
Should I "shop" for a therapist?
You may certainly shop for a therapist by attending one appointment to determine if the therapist is someone you feel you could trust and click with. Let the therapist know that you are doing this. Most will charge you for the session, but you may be able to meet with some for 15-20 minutes free of charge or for a half-session at half the charge.
Is there a charge if I late-cancel or no-show?
Yes. When you make an appointment, you are reserving your provider's time and space. If you forget your appointment or cancel at the last minute, your provider will have to charge you to cover their cost. No-shows and late-cancels are billed at the rate of $150 and are not covered by insurance. Our policy is 24-hours notice if you are changing or cancelling an appointment.
Can I get a reminder call or text for my upcoming appointment?
Yes. As a courtesy, River Valley provides automated reminder calls and texts for upcoming appointments. Please check with the front desk if you would like to receive this service. Calls usually go out the evening before your appointment. Keep in mind, this is a courtesy and technology is not always perfect. As a patient, you are ultimately responsible to keep track of your appointments.