Q: How do I know if my situation is bad enough to seek professional help?
A: There remains a stigma in our society which states: “You have to be crazy to see a therapist.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact one of the biggest issues we run into is that people tend to put off seeing a therapist for too long because they think they are “not that bad.” We like to use the analogy of finding a weed starting to sprout through a small crack in your driveway. If you take a moment to bend down and pluck it out as soon as you see it there, the solution is quick and easy. If, on the other hand, you wait until it’s a small tree, then you're in for some major work!
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself:
1. Has this problem been going on for quite a while?
2. Has this problem come up repeatedly at different times in my life?
3. Have my own efforts to solve the problem been successful?
4. Is this problem interfering with other aspects of my life, such as family, friendships, or work?
Q: I’ve never been in counseling before. What can I expect?
A: First of all, almost everyone finds themselves a little nervous coming in for the first session. After all, you are about to discuss personal issues with a complete stranger. But most people are pleasantly surprised at how quickly they feel comfortable even during the first session. In fact, a common remark at the end of the first session is something like, “I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about when I first came in, but now I’m surprised at how much I did talk!” The first session is typically spent getting information about you and the issues with which you are dealing. Sessions last about 50 minutes, and are usually scheduled on a weekly or biweekly basis. Some of the most important changes can happen outside of the therapy office. Therefore, you can expect some “homework” that you can work on between session to be assigned.
Q: How can just talking about my problems help? I can do that with friends.
A: Friends and family (what we call “social support”) are vital to our mental health and well being, and in most cases they should be the first place you turn in times of need. However, there are times when it takes a trained mental health professional to recognize behavioral and psychological factors that are contributing to the problem, to recognize significant psychological symptoms, and to prescribe a course of treatment.
Q: I think we need marital therapy, but my spouse is not willing to come with me. What should I do?
A. Even if your partner is not willing in the moment to join in counseling, you may benefit from individual counseling. It can be helpful for building coping skills as well as for discovering things you can do on your own that could help improve the marriage. In many cases like this, a spouse will end up coming after their partner enters counseling.
Q: I’ve thought about coming to see someone, but I don’t want anyone to know I’m seeing a therapist—especially not my employer since I get my insurance coverage through work.
A: First of all, your privacy and confidentiality are protected by state and federal law. Beyond that, each therapist is bound by a strict code of professional ethics which include rules about confidentiality. Your therapist cannot release any of your information without your express written consent. The only exceptions to this rule involve issues of your and/or other peoples' safety. These confidentiality issues will be covered by your therapist during your first session. Finally, even though your employer may pay for your insurance, they will not receive any information from Associated Psychologists. Please be aware that if you need documentation to support time off from work, you can sign a release of information that will allow your therapist to document the fact that you are being treated and need time off work. Your work supervisor will not be informed of why you are being seen, nor will your diagnosis be disclosed.
Q: My faith is important to me. How can I be sure my therapist respect my spiritual and moral convictions?
A: All of our therapists are well trained and sensitive when it comes to issues of diversity, including religious preference. If you are interested in faith-based counseling, we have counselors who are trained and experienced in that area. Simply make your request known when you call for an initial appointment.