Answers to Common Questions
Does Going to Counseling Mean There is Something Wrong With Me?
Absolutely not! The decision to seek counseling is actually the opposite of that - it means you are taking a first step to improve a situation that is causing you difficulty. By seeking counseling you are taking control of your mental and emotional health; it is a positive sign of strength, and most definitely not one of weakness.
How Do I Know What Type of Counseling is Best for Me?
There are many different types of counselors. Even within these disciplines, individual therapists may specialize in certain kinds of problems, or serve certain populations. The letters after a counselor’s name give you your first clue. Here is a quick rundown of which types of counselors do what:
Psychiatrist (M.D.) – Is a medical doctor with postdoctoral training in mental and emotional disorders. Psychiatrists are well-trained to assess and diagnose mental health disorders, and prescribe medication. Most do not do outpatient counseling, but refer clients for counseling support while working with their therapist to provide medication management.
Psychologist (Ph.D or Psy.D) - Has a doctorate in the scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes. Psychologists are trained in assessment and treatment. They do educational and personality testing, work in private and organizational settings, and are equipped to provide outpatient counseling services. They do not prescribe medication.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – Trained to consider individual problems in a social context, LCSWs often work with institutions such as hospitals, schools, and social service agencies. They are well-equipped to coordinate multiple community resources to assist clients.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) – Utilizes the principles of psychotherapy, human development, learning theory, group dynamics, and the causes of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior in treating individuals, couples, families, and groups. LMHCs deal with normal problems of living, and treat more serious mental illness.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) –This specialty is based on the research and theory that mental illness and family problems are best treated from a family relationship perspective with an understanding of symptoms and interactive patterns within the family environment. LMFTs can effectively treat individuals, couples, and groups along with families. .
Will You Tell Me What to Do?
No. You might be surprised to know that I will not tell you what to do, unless your - or someone else’s - safety is at risk. The goal of counseling is to help you develop skills to find your own solutions to what is causing difficulty for you.
Will You Make Me Talk About Things I Don't Want to Discuss?
No. Your emotional safety is of utmost importance in every counseling session. While counseling can be uncomfortable at times when we are confronting difficult or denied feelings and experiences, you always have the control to discuss and explore whatever you are interested in working on. If you are not comfortable discussing a topic, please know that I want you to tell me.
Are You a Christian Counselor?
While I was reared Catholic and live a faith-based life, my practice welcomes clients of all faiths, and those who do not share a faith perspective. My own life experience, along with counseling research, supports the importance of faith and spirituality as an effective tool in healing and personal growth. I encourage clients to explore and embrace how their own faith and spirituality can serve them as a foundation and resource for healing. I welcome faith as a topic for discussion in counseling, but will not impose my own beliefs on clients.
Will You Keep Confidential What I Share With You?
I will keep confidential anything you say to me, with the only exceptions those required by Florida law: We will review these in detail at your first appointment. Whenever possible and appropriate, I will advise you in advance of divulging confidential material to others, and explain why it is necessary to do so. Unless you have provided permission, I do not acknowledge to anyone, including members of your family, that you are a client.
I Don't Think Counseling is Helping. What Should I Do?
While counseling is a very effective tool for many people, it does not work for everyone. If you find our time together is not helping you, please tell me. There can be many reasons for this, and I am here to help you figure out what can work best for you. You will not hurt my feelings (I am a trained professional!), but honesty about the process is the best way to have it work for your benefit. After exhausting all options to assist you, if you have still not reached the desired result, I will be happy to provide a referral to another professional who might be able to be more effective.
How Will I Know When My Counseling is Complete?
When we meet we will set goals together for what you would like to accomplish and discuss how long this might be expected to take. I will guide your treatment toward meeting those goals. It will become apparent in a short while whether you are progressing or not, or whether a different approach might be needed. Once you have made satisfactory progress toward your stated goals, you will be ready to “graduate," and I will work to bring counseling to a satisfactory conclusion so that you are well prepared to meet life’s challenges on your own.