What questions will be answered by an assessment or evaluation of my child?
Developmental concerns - When parents or pediatricians notice a delay in one or more area of a child's development (speech, motor, social), an assessment can reveal the extent of the delay, determine if cognitive development is being affected, and document the need for early intervention or special education services.
ADHD & related concerns - Even when it seems obvious that a child has ADHD, information about the child's intellectual strengths and weaknesses can increase the success of medical and behavioral interventions. Co-occurring conditions of anxiety and/or depression are not uncommon and may need to be considered when a physician chooses a medication and when parents and teachers begin to implement behavioral strategies.
Suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder - A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is considered to represent a lifelong condition. Research shows that children who are identified early and provided with appropriate intervention have better outcomes. Children with ASD whose nonverbal intelligence is in the average range also have better outcomes. It takes a trained eye and a sensitive, skilled evaluator to assess nonverbal cognitive functioning of a child who has a significant language delay.
Adolescent issues - The preteen and teen years are a time when communication with parents often declines and conflict may increase. Depression and/or anxiety may cause further withdrawal, and teens often turn to alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate. It can be difficult for parents to determine when a teen's irritability and withdrawal are a normal part of growing up or a problem that needs to be addressed. Because of their growing need for independence, teenagers will often share their feelings and problems more readily with a therapist than they will with their parents. Rather than indicating a flaw in your parenting, seeking help at this time shows that you want what is best for your son or daughter. Often, teens are intimidated by their parents' well-developed and expressed problem-solving abilities. It requires patience, objectivity, and some humor to encourage teens to begin to come up with their own ideas to solve their problems. Parental concern makes this process difficult, and a few sessions with a skilled therapist can make it easier. With adolescents, my goal is to assess how their emotional and behavioral issues compare to others in the same age range, to communicate this knowledge to the teen and parents, and to facilitate both improved communication and increasing independence for the teenager. When teens share information that parents need to know, I offer them the opportunity to tell their parents with my support or to share the information myself.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Developing skills for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis--depending on your needs, schedule, and goals of your therapy.
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
Medication is sometimes necessary to help clients maintain their daily functioning. Research has consistently shown that a combination of medication and therapy provides the greatest and most long-lasting benefit. In less severe emotional and behavioral disturbances, psychotherapy has been shown to be somewhat more effective than medication alone. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
While I no longer file insurance for my clients, I do provide the information necessary to those who file for reimbursement. For privacy and convenience, some clients choose not to file their insurance. Because of my focus on short-term therapy, some clients who do file find that their out-of-pocket expense is below the amount of their yearly deductible for mental health care.
To determine the mental health coverage you can expect through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is check your plan. In many cases, reimbursement for my services will be at the level listed for an "out-of-network" provider. Check your policy carefully and make sure you understand it. Some helpful questions you can explore:
What are my mental health benefits?
Is there a deductible amount I must pay out of pocket before benefits are offered for mental health services?
How much will my insurance pay the provider per therapy session?
What is my co-pay? (This is the amount your insurance requires you to pay for each session)
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components of the therapy relationship. Successful psychotherapy requires a great degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every mental health provider should give notice of their commitment to confidentiality, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This process is called “Informed Consent." On occasion, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team, but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
State law and professional ethics allow therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.