What exactly is marriage counseling and how can it help? Learn what marriage counseling is and is not in this article by Joey Mowery, LPC and couples therapist at Pecan Branch CounselingRead More
Making the decision to see a therapist or counselor is a brave decision. It’s pretty common for folks to wait a long time before they decide to seek out therapy. We are told and come from a culture of self-sufficiency and “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”. Most of the time we do our best to incorporate coping skills and lean on friends for advice and support. It’s only when everything that we can think of doesn’t work, that we tend to reach out for help with a professional counselor or therapist.
Once you make the decision to seek therapy, finding a therapist or counselor can feel overwhelming.
Here are some helpful aspects to research and consider when looking for and finding a therapist.
Titles: When you are looking for counseling or therapy you will find that people call themselves by different titles. This may be due to credentials (which we will get to below) or just because of a choice. The word counselor or therapist is used interchangeably most of the time. People will call themselves a Counselor or Therapist much like people refer to counseling or therapy. BEWARE: The terms Counselor and Therapist are not protected terms and so individuals without credentials may use these terms and not have the training to be licensed. People may also choose to call themselves a Psychotherapist. Individuals sometimes choose this term to designate that they practice some form of psychological practice but not focus on using their license as their title. Other terms are Psychologist, which refers to a specific license, and Psychiatrist which is a medical doctor that can prescribe medication. Some individuals may go by “Dr.” which can refer to a Ph.D. OR a medical degree. We talk more about the credentials with the titles in the next category.
Credentials: There is a lot of alphabet soup and letters after the names of people that conduct therapy. It’s important that you can interpret the letters that designate someone’s license which authorizes them to practice counseling and therapy in your state. Here are some of the most common Master’s level credentials in Texas
Licensed Profession Counselor (LPC): An LPC is an individual with at least a Master’s degree in a counseling field that has met the requirements of the state to practice counseling/therapy. These individuals have to complete 3000 hours of post-graduate work under supervision prior to being fully licensed.
Licensed Professional Counselor- Intern (LPC-Intern): Individuals that are working on their post-graduate hours are designated LPC-Interns. They are kind of like doctors in residence. They have the knowledge but are supervised to assist them as they are practicing their newly acquired skills. This doesn’t mean that someone will be sitting in the room with you. It does mean that they will confer with a more experienced counselor (LPC-S) about your therapy and enhance their efficiency.
Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S): Some LPCs choose to take additional training in order to work with LPC-Interns. The choice to be a supervisor does not mean that they are better therapists than those without the supervisor title. These individuals do have at least 5 years of clinical experience.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): These individuals have at least a Master’s degree in social work and are required to complete additional post-graduate hours prior to obtaining their license. Like an LPC, these licenses also have a supervisory and intern/associate component.
Read the Bio: Normally you can find a bio or summary of the therapists philosophy, training, and experience somewhere. You can check their personal website, Psychology Today, of Good Therapy as these are the most common places to find information. Counseling is about change so look for information about how the counselor believes change happens. This might be listed as a theory but hopefully they break it down into plain English. It might be something like, “I believe that working with people’s behaviors and beliefs and addressing past events helps people to move in a different direction”. You want to get a feel or flavor for who the therapist would be with you. Do think they will “get you” after reading the bio. Feeling connected with your therapist is important! You might also want to look for information on specialized training which tells you that the therapist might have more of a niche than someone who is more of a generalist.
Google: You already know that you can find all kinds of things when you Google. Many therapists have a professional social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. This will give you a little bit more of a feel for who they are. You can also find reviews and rating sometimes on Google. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find too much in regard to ratings as leaving a rating requires a person to admit they attended therapy. You may be pleasantly surprised what you find though.
Ask a Friend: This might feel a little scary but the fact is that many people attend counseling and therapy; they just don’t talk about it. If you are brave enough to ask some friends, most of the time they will may know of someone to recommend or someone to steer clear of.
Finally, remember that it is OK for you meet with a counselor or therapist a few times and decide that it’s not a good fit. This sometimes happens and counselors know it. It’s kind to let them know this and sometimes they may be able to recommend someone else if you are able to tell them what you need instead. Fit is the most important part of the process so you can feel comfortable sharing and making changes in your life!
If you need help finding someone that is a good fit for you in Denton, TX., give us a call for a free 15 minute phone consultation today! 940-565-8300
There are some pretty common questions when it comes to checking into therapy and counseling. Here are some of the most common questions are are asked at our office.
Can you help me with _____________?
We work with individuals with many struggles. There are actually too many to name but here are some of the most common that we work with are anxiety, depression, anger, trauma, relationship issues (either individually or as a couple), communication, feeling stuck, self-sabotage, struggles with “adulting” or transition from one phase of life to the next, grief, addiction, infidelity, and many many others. The best way to find out if we can help is to contact us for a free 15 minute consultation. We will be honest with you and put you with the counselor we think is a good fit for you or give you a referral to someone we think would be.
Are you Christian based? Will I be judged?
We seemed to get asked this question quite a bit. Maybe it’s because we are in the South. We are not Christian therapists as that is a specific type of therapy in which scripture is used. We are happy to incorporate our client’s spirituality into session if they wish. We are a JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE. We work with a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and sexual and gender orientations. We keep an open mind when working with clients. NO JUDGEMENT.
Do you provide counseling for kids?
At Pecan Branch Counseling, we work with individuals 11 and up. We have 2 therapists that specialize working with “tween"s” and several therapists that specialize with high school teenagers. If you are looking for counseling for children younger than 11, we would recommend seeking a play therapist as they have specialized training in the younger age range.
What is couple counseling like? I’m afraid the counselor will take sides!
Couples counseling can feel very exposing as you have to confront issues with your partner and then go home with them! Our couples therapists provide two sessions to gather information, one for the couple to attend together and share the struggles and goals, and one that is split between the two partners to share personal history and struggles. This gives the counselor a clearer picture of you as a couple. The therapist may also ask you to complete an in-depth assessment regarding your relationship. The third session is used to establish goals and start counseling. A couples counselor will not take sides. Both partners have their own perspectives. Counselors will help partners to hear each other, challenge you to try new skills and techniques, and coach you through forgiveness, resolution, and greater intimacy.
What if my partner won’t come to couples counseling with me?
While it’s not ideal, it’s not uncommon for one partner to seek help to make change in their relationship. We can help you individually make an impact on the relationship and help you to heal.
Is it REALLY confidential?
Absolutely. What you share in sessions is completely confidential except in the case of 1) immediate threat of harm to self or other, 2) suspicion of child or dependent elder abuse, 3) in the case of a court subpoena. If you use insurance, we are required to submit dates that you attend to your insurance carrier as well as a diagnosis. All of this will be discussed with you at your initial session.
What do you charge?
Our therapists have a range of experience, expertise, and specialized training which helps them to determine their rate(s) which range from $90 - $150.
Do you accept insurance?
We are happy to help you to access and find out your mental health insurance benefits! Many times we are considered out of network. In that case, we are happy to complete and file paperwork for you to get reimbursed based upon your available benefits. HSA accounts can be used to pay for therapy Some of us are in network with Aetna and BCBS PPO plans.
Is therapy really worth the cost?
Therapy is an investment in yourself and demonstrates your desire to change. Your ability to think and behave differently can make a positive impact on your quality of life, relationships, and joy that you experience. You’ve probably invested a lot of time and energy into your education, career, home, and physical health. People often ignore investing in their mental health which can have a great impact to achieving the life you want to live.
I don’t want to sit around and talk about my problems! Does therapy really work?
While talking about the issues are part of the process of therapy, that is just the start! Therapy is about taking action in the present. Our therapists are direct and engaged in your process and your success. Homework and actions steps to take during the week help to make therapy more brief and you see progress. Just like working out, it’s a process, and what you put in, you get out.
How long is a session?
A session is commonly called a “therapeutic hour” which is 50 minutes. You counselor or therapist will start to wrap up their time with you about 45 minutes into session in order to complete payment and paperwork before the beginning of the next hour. Some therapists choose to have longer sessions (90 minutes) in order to be able to get more in depth with clients during session which often leads to more progress in a shorter period of time. If you are using insurance, this may limit the amount of time you can have with your counselor as they determine the limits of therapy. Check with your counselor for more information.
If you have other questions, we would love to talk to you and offer you a free 15 minute consultation. Give us a call at 940-565-8300 or contact us via our website.
People are often very nervous the first time they meet a new counselor or therapist. There are worries about what therapist will think about you or what the therapist will say. Will they think my problems are silly? Will they believe me? Will I be too much? All of those thoughts and feelings are very natural but to help, here are a few things that you can expect during your first counseling session.
Your initial session will consist of the sharing of information. Your therapist may have had you complete paperwork ahead of time or you may need to arrive early to complete it prior to your session. There are usually quite a few questions that may seem really personal but those questions help your therapist to know you better and have a more complete picture of your history and who you are. You may want to ask prior to your first session is you need to come early to complete the paperwork.
Your therapist or counselor will bring you back to a safe and private location in their office. Many offices are set with comfortable furniture in order to make clients (and honestly the therapist!) feel more comfortable.
Usually the therapist will start with a brief overview of who they are and how they work as a therapist. They will then probably go over the “Informed Consent” part of the paperwork that you probably signed prior to coming back to the room. Many people do not read what they sign and so the information is reviewed to make sure you understand your rights as a client, confidentiality, payments, and other aspects of therapy including how to file a complaint if you have one. What you say in session is kept in session with the exception of a few areas. Your counselor will explain this as well.
The therapist will then review your paperwork with you possibly clarifying aspects of your answers. They may have you share more information about specific situations or aspects of your history. From there you may lead the session by either providing background information or why you have decided to come to counseling.
There is no “right way” to begin your session. You begin where you feel comfortable. Your therapist is there to provide a non-judgmental atmosphere for you to explore what you are struggling with.
You may choose to jump right in or to take your time getting to the meat of the matter as you build a relationship with your therapist.
At the end of your session you and your therapist will discuss goals or homework for you to work on between session. You will also decide on an appoint for you next session. As a therapist, we want to help you move forward and not keep you with us forever and ever. We want to see you progress as quickly as possible so you can move through the difficult stuff and have a more joyful life. It will be common for your therapist that you come weekly for about 6-8 weeks to get things moving in the right direction quickly.
You do not have to be “crazy” or “broken” or benefit from counseling. You just have to have the courage to take the step to give us a call. We are happy to provide a free 15 minute consultation to see if we can help you! Give us a call at 940-565-8300 or click on the contact us page.
Counseling is a very intimate process. It can be nerve wracking to think about going into an office with someone you don’t know to spill your guts for the first time. We often fear judgement and hold back until we feel more safe. This can actually delay the impact of counseling. Counseling and therapy is relational and thus, counselors and clients need to be a good FIT for each other. Here are the TOP FIVE QUESTIONS you can ask your therapist during a 15 minute consultation before scheduling with them and make ease some of the anxiety of coming in for your first session.
#1 How do you think change happens?
This might seem like a weird question but a counselor or therapist should be able to be very clear about how they are going to work with you to help you make the change you want in your life. Sometimes they might tell you they have a theory that they use. If you are not familiar with it, ask them to explain more. Sometimes they put things in plain English like, “We will go through the negative talk and trash in your head and work to change the messages you tell yourself. We will also work on changing behaviors and examining feelings and self-talk that get in the way of you being who you want to be”. There are many ways that therapists work and some use specialized training or techniques like Gottman techniques or EMDR. Work to get a clear picture of what you may be doing in therapy to help make change.
#2 What type of availability do you have in your schedule?
You want to ask this question for many reasons. Does their availability match up to yours? Do you need days but they only work in the evening? Do they only have availability for you to come once every couple of weeks? Do they have space for emergency appointments? You want to not only know if your calendars match up but how quickly or intensely you will be able to work with them. The brain is a muscle and so the more often you work it out, the quicker you will see change and growth happen in your life. Slow progress, slow results.
#3 How would you describe your counseling style?
Therapists are all different based upon their own background, experiences, values, beliefs, personality, etc. They all receive similar basic training but they also bring themselves to the therapy room. Thus, the experience you may have in therapy can be different. If you struggle with people being direct and need a softer touch, you want to know if that therapist works in that manner. Likewise, if you struggle with ambiguity, you may want a more directive confrontive therapist to challenge your thoughts and behaviors. Asking about their style should give you want you are seeking in this regard.
#4 How to you track progress or know I am making progress?
Therapy and counseling is not a lifetime commitment. Counselors should address the goals you have for therapy and work to help you achieve these goals. Now, they don’t have pixie dust and you have to do the work. There was no magic wand that came with the training! BUT, they do make a plan to help you move through the issue and track how you are doing with the plan. It’s always beneficial for a counselor and a client to check and see if they are making progress with the goals they have set, if they need to be adjusted, or if new goals need to be set due to other issues popping up. They probably cannot tell you, “this will take x sessions” but they can outline what they see the benchmarks for progress. It’s helpful to know if this is how your therapist works.
#5 What do you expect from your client?
Therapy and counseling is a relationship between two people. It’s good to know what the other person expects from you. Expectations might include 24 hour cancellation, paying in advance or at the time of service, homework, honesty, or several other aspects. This will again help you decide if you are a good FIT for each other.
Now you have the questions to ask. If you are ready to take the next step, give us a call to set up your free 15 minutes consultation or go to the contact page on our website!