What to expect during therapy

During your initial appointment, you are going to be interviewed for approximately 1­ to 2 hours about yourself and the reason(s) you have decided to seek our services at this time. This is a very important interview. You may be asked to complete some questionnaires during this initial interview or at some time in the future. The interview serves several important functions. It establishes a relationship between you and your clinician that will allow you to feel more comfortable and at ease during therapy. It also helps your clinician determine the factors that might be contributing to the problems you are experiencing.

  • Some people have concerns that they are embarrassed to tell others, such as alcohol and substance use, physical abuse, marital problems, etc. Do not be shy about providing “embarrassing” information to your clinician. The more honest and open you are, the easier it will be for your clinician to help you. While the interview is being conducted, the clinician may take notes during the conversation. You may also be asked some questions about your family background. This kind of information can be of great assistance in helping your clinician to understand the nature of your problems, therefore, please do not be offended if asked these type of questions.
  • Once the interview is completed, your clinician will schedule your next appointment date and time with you. She or he will also tell you what you can expect to happen during future therapy sessions.
  • Initially, your therapy sessions will involve talking about your concerns and letting your clinician get to know you better. This will help you to define realistic goals, explore options and make responsible decisions. A trusting relationship is essential to useful therapy. If you feel uncomfortable or have concerns about the work you are doing, please discuss these issues. This will make your therapy experience more productive and worthwhile.
  • We think it is important to offer treatments that the research suggests will help you with your concerns. Many of the treatments supported by research are somewhat structured. That is, they contain specific goals, treatment strategies and techniques which are most likely to be helpful. Typically, therapy sessions are scheduled once per week for 50 minutes (a therapy hour). For some types of concerns, we suggest treatment should happen more frequently (i.e., 2 times per week).
  • When you are in the process of ending your treatment, it is not unusual for the therapist and patient to decide to “taper” the treatment by meeting less often for a specified period.
  • Many of our treatments involve asking patients to complete tasks outside of the therapy session. As 50 minutes per week is only a small portion of your life, it is necessary to try to do some of the things you are working on in treatment outside of the therapy room in order to achieve the progress you are looking for.
  • Regular attendance at your scheduled sessions is also advised for achieving your best outcome.
  • Don’t worry if you find it hard to open up about your feelings. Your therapist can help you gain more confidence and comfort as time goes on.
  • Because psychotherapy sometimes involves intense emotional discussions, you may find yourself crying, upset or even having an angry outburst during a session. Some people may feel physically exhausted after a session. Your therapist is there to help you cope with such feelings and emotions.

Except in rare and specific circumstances, conversations with your therapist are confidential. However, a therapist may break confidentiality if there is an immediate threat to safety (yours or someone else’s) or when required by state or federal law to report concerns to authorities. Your therapist can answer questions about confidentiality.

Length of Psychotherapy

The number of psychotherapy sessions you need — as well as how frequently you need to see your therapist — depends on such factors as:

  • Your particular mental illness or situation
  • Severity of your symptoms
  • How long you’ve had symptoms or have been dealing with your situation
  • How quickly you make progress
  • How much stress you’re experiencing
  • How much your mental health concerns interfere with day ­to ­day life
  • How much support you receive from family members and others
  • Cost and insurance limitations may take only weeks to help you cope with a short term situation. Or, treatment may last a year or longer if you have a long term mental illness or other long term concerns.

Insurance Coverage

Mental health care is just as important as medical care, and avoiding mental health treatment due to cost is as risky as avoiding medical care. Since the passage of the mental health parity law in 2008 and the Affordable Care Act in 2010, most people with insurance now have mental health coverage. This is a significant improvement compared with the situation before the laws, in which many plans didn’t offer coverage and the importance of mental health care was minimized. However, mental health coverage is sometimes not as comprehensive as you might expect, and some health plans are still exempt from having to provide it. Treat mental health services just like any other medical service: Check your insurance coverage beforehand so you don’t get surprised. We can also check for you in a matter of minutes.