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Archive for the ‘FAQ about Therapy’ Category

What Does Feeling Better Look Like?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

NopainWhat does ‘feeling better’ look like?

You probably don’t have to ask yourself that question when you have physical pain. When you have a pounding toothache, you Google ‘dentist in my town,’ or you phone your friends and ask who they use. You will probably book an appointment with the professional with the most stars, highest friend recommendations, lowest price, and earliest opening (not necessarily in that order). Most important, you will already know exactly what you want as an outcome: no more tooth pain.

Should emotional pain be any different? I don’t think so. Whether we are experiencing emotional or physical pain, we want relief. According to research you can get varying degrees of relief from different forms of treatment including diet and exercise, acupuncture, counseling therapy, meditation, medication, or a combination of all of the above. If your emotional pain is a manageable two or three out of a high score of ten, you might even take your time to explore different options and develop what are commonly known as coping skills. Ideally you would work those coping skills into a daily regimen of self-care (think daily tooth brushing) to keep emotional pain manageable.

If your emotional pain started creeping past manageable to a level-10-toothache pain, however, your need for relief would become urgent. Your criteria for a counseling professional would resemble the criteria you had for your dentist: expert skills, affordable price, accessible location, available immediately, and most important, the ability to relieve your pain.

Counselors are highly skilled professionals trained in the art of emotional pain relief. We use our skills to promote insight in our clients so they feel better. When they feel better, we terminate treatment. If they don’t feel better, then we look at our treatment plan and make adjustments. If we make adjustments and our clients are still not feeling better, we help them find a specialist who can meet their needs and hopefully accomplish what we could not.

What we’re not so good at is explaining how what we do alleviates pain.

So when talking to clients, perhaps a counselor should think more like a dentist and clearly explain what he does and what to expect from his sessions. This ‘solution-focused and goal-oriented’ approach could begin with the first phone call. Once the client explained her emotional pain, he would be able to tell her three things:

  1. Whether or not counseling with him could help her specific issue,
  2. A step by step map of the first three to four sessions, and
  3. Specific tools she would gather by that fourth session that might offer symptom relief.

When we have physical or emotional pain, we all want the same thing: pain relief. Counselors need to be able to explain just as well as a dentist how their skills can help make that happen.



Getting the Most From Therapy: Sleep Better

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Coming to therapy is a big decision. Individuals come to therapy for personal marriage, and family issues. Therapy works because of the relationship between you and your counselor. She will help you achieve insight by showing you roadblocks holding you back, and thinking errors keeping you stuck.

Whether you are coming to therapy for yourself, your marriage, or a family member, you will get the most out of your time and money if you commit to work both during your sessions and on your own. Take time to make small changes and talk to your therapist if you are not getting the results you want. While there are no guarantees, therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. Here are some week-by-week tips for getting the most from your therapy:

Week 1
Start cutting back on caffeine and get a journal. Cut simple sugars from your diet. Take a walk outdoors. Make an appointment for a physical.

Week 2
Cut caffeine from your diet and add something healthy. Each day walk outdoors and write something in your journal you are thankful for.

Week 3
Start a bedtime routine. One hour before bedtime take a warm bath or shower. Thirty minutes before cut out TV and computer. Five minutes before breathe and relax.

Week 4
Help someone in need. Give your time at a soup kitchen, meals on wheels, or a thrift shop.

Want more detail? Check out or 30 day transformation. It’s a FREE download here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Why see a therapist? The reasons people choose to see a therapist vary. Therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of problems such as depression, loss, marital strife, parent-child concerns, or emotional distress. Some people need help getting through a specific life event. Some want an unbiased perspective on an issue they are struggling with. Regardless of what brings you to therapy, it can be an opportunity to grow, learn, and heal.  

Who do I choose? Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral care counselors, and life coaches are several options for individuals who are seeking help. How do they differ?

Psychiatrists (MD):

  • Are licensed medical doctors who can prescribe medication
  • Have completed training in a psychiatric residency program
  • May provide therapy (also known as psychotherapy) but most focus on medication management  (some do both)

Psychologists (PhD):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral program as well as post doctoral experience under supervision and passed a licensure examination
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Professional Counselors (PhD/MA LPC):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed either a doctoral or a master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Work with individuals, couples, families and groups
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (PhD/MA LMFT):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral or master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Specialize in working with families to improve relationships among family members; also work with individuals, couples and groups

Pastoral Care Counselor

  • Training depends on the religious denomination. Most denominations require licensing and post-graduate training and supervision

Coach or Life Coach

  • No standardized training or licensing required
  • Since the field is unregulated at this time, clients must   

rely on information provided by the coach

How do I find a therapist? The most common ways to find a therapist include asking:

  • Insurance carrier
  • Physician
  • A friend or family member

Will insurance cover the sessions? You may choose to see a therapist who is on your insurance company’s provider list or you may choose to see one who is not on the list. If you choose a therapist who is not on the list, the insurance company might consider the therapist to be an out-of-network provider. In such cases, it is up to the discretion of the insurance company to decide whether or not they will reimburse you. You also have the option of self or private pay which means you pay the fee yourself.

How do I know if I’ve made the right choice? The emotional connection that a client makes with a therapist oftentimes has a greater impact on the success of the therapeutic process than the type of therapist chosen. The therapist must provide an atmosphere of safety and trust for the client. If, after a few sessions, the client doesn’t feel that he or she is making any progress, it is important to discuss it with the therapist.

The client determines his or her own goals in therapy, not the therapist’s. The client and therapist work together toward achieving client’s goal. It is normal to experience a certain amount of discomfort when facing difficult issues during the course of therapy. If the client feels that a change of therapist would be best, the therapist should be supportive of that decision. A proper fit between therapist and client is essential toward goal achievement.

How long will therapy last? Many people think that therapy is a long and drawn out process. Very often that is not the case. There are many different approaches to therapy. The needs and goals of the client determine which approach would be most suitable. Some clients achieve their goals in as few as two or three sessions, some take longer.  A goal is defined by the client during the first session. The client and the therapist work together toward attaining that goal.

Achieve Balance: Balancing Life and Work

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In today’s fast paced world, at times it may seem impossible to balance your life. Many people feel they must wake up with their feet on the ground running in order to meet the demands of the day.

Whether it is taking care of the household duties, meeting the needs of a demanding job, or pleasing the spouse and children, balancing your life without being struck down by physical or emotional issues can be challenging at times. When an event, task, relationship, or thought is overpowering, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Managing tasks, emotions, relationships, and retain self-respect is essential to a healthy and balanced life. It is important to not be too one sided about anything, and balancing life and work is key. In fact, combining opposites is the key to staying in balance. For example, all work and no play is just as unhealthy as all play and no work. Being too invested in self-interests and having no interest in others will cause an imbalance just as too much time invested in others and not enough time in self.

While it is important to strive to enhance and make ourselves better, self-acceptance is essential to balance. Know the difference between dieting to combat obesity or diabetes and dieting to look like the swimsuit models you saw in last month’s People Magazine. Accept your body shape and your genetic makeup while dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Do you feel like your life is out of balance? A therapist utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can help you move away from extremes and attain balance again by helping you learn mindfulness, distress tolerance skills, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. Finding balance in life and achieving balance can lead to healthier relationships, greater self-confidence, and a more fulfilling life. If you are struggling, why not call a therapist today?

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.


What is an Intern? Defining “Intern” and “Counseling Internships”

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

When you hear the word intern, you probably think of a time between sophomore and junior year of college when students can “try out” their chosen profession. This is not the case in the counseling world when it comes to counseling internships. When you choose a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC-I) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) in the state of Texas, you are getting a professional trained to help.

Interns and associates in Texas receive their license to counseling only after completing an undergraduate degree (bachelor’s degree) and a master’s degree. The master’s degree must be in counseling, psychology, or a related field. University programs are accredited by a national accrediting body that insures course work is rigorous and comprehensive.

In addition to their master’s degree, licensed interns and associates in Texas have passed the Texas State Board of Examiners Licensing Exam for Licensed Professional Counselors or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.  This is a national exam that covers not only the core components of their field but also federal requirements. Once the interns and associates pass their exam, a board of professional counselors that are licensed and highly trained supervise them for 3000 hours. These professionals oversee each and every case.

What you may not expect when you hire an intern is the wealth of experience. Many counselor interns have come from other fields including medicine, business, and university-level teaching. For example one counselor intern earned her medical degree and completed training in obstetrics and gynecology. Another intern logged over 12 years of experience as a professional psychotherapist in Mexico and Europe.

Counselor interns and marriage and family therapist associates are qualified, experienced providers. Because they are generally not paid by insurance, your diagnosis and treatment plan will never be shared unless you request it. When it’s time for help, confidently call on them.

Parent Counseling and Counseling for Teenagers: Attending the First Session

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Asking for help from a marriage and family therapist is a serious decision. Even if the problems at home are heartbreaking, the thought of sharing family issues with a stranger can be scary and intimidating. Knowing what family therapy can look like starting with the first appointment can help alleviate those fears. Here’s one fictional family’s story that includes parent counseling, and counseling for teenagers.

Joanne and John sat nervously in the waiting room. Julie, the family therapist they had decided to see after using their local therapist finder, had scheduled an initial meeting with both of them. She told them this first session would take about 90 minutes and it was a chance for everyone to get to know one another, identify some issues, and decide if she would be a good fit for their family.

When Julie appeared they handed her their completed paperwork and went back to her office. The service agreement outlined Julie’s background and philosophy, limits of confidentiality, fees and meeting times, and contact information for both Julie and the state therapist licensing board. Joanne and John had also signed a release of information so Julie could talk with John’s psychiatrist.

Joanne and John were slow to share at first, but eventually the dam broke and they shared what their family had been and what it had become. Julie listened and assured them they were resilient and she would help them work on a plan to capitalize on their strengths, not just focus on their weaknesses. It was agreed that Joanne and John would meet with Julie weekly at first, and then taper to an as-needed basis.

Joanne and John left that first meeting with hope. Neither had felt that way in a long, long time.

When you decide to seek help for your family, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different mental health professions and choose the professional with whom you feel the best fit. And remember, it’s okay to keep looking if your family is not making progress.

Finding the Right Therapist for Your Family

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Joanne finally picked up the home phone, realizing this was the most difficult call she had ever made. She was about to ask for help in the one area of her life that she’d thought she had held together: her family.

At the last appointment, Jake’s psychiatrist mentioned marriage and family therapy programs but she had felt too angry (or was it embarrassed?) to call for further information. After all, this was Jake’s problem, wasn’t it? How could therapy for the whole family do any good when Jake was the one causing arguments, getting in trouble at school, and sneaking out at night doing who knows what with who knows whom?  Family therapy techniques sounded so… intrusive. The therapist would probably pick apart her parenting and tell her she had done everything wrong.

So why was she finally changing her mind? Strangely enough it was because of Jake’s little sister Jenny. Yesterday afternoon, Jenny had asked, “Why are you and daddy so mad at Jake all the time?” In that moment, Joanne realized Jenny had not been immune to the turmoil surrounding their efforts to help Jake. Somehow she knew that her family could not get better if they stuck to the problem-focused idea that their only hope rested in “fixing” one person. Whether she liked it or not, this was a family problem.

Family therapy is a core mental health profession. It is brief, solution-focused, and it focuses on specific, attainable, therapeutic goals. Joanne’s decision to seek help for her family was very serious and choosing the right family therapist was important. She started with her insurance company and researched possible providers who could help. After consulting with a trusted family physician, she made the appointment.

When you decide to seek help for your family it is important to familiarize yourself with the different mental health professions. Remember, it’s okay to keep looking if your family is not making progress. Choose the professional and the family therapy center you feel the best fit so that you can receive the right help.

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