FAQ - love and respect counseling
Individuals ask me many questions on the phone while considering counseling. Below are some of those questions and a typical response.
What shapes your beliefs or what is your worldview? Or some ask more specifically - Are you a Christian?
Many psychologists or counselors may be uncomfortable answering such a question, as it is quite personal. Clients are left wondering what motivates their counselor, what they believe, and through what grid or worldview the counselor is viewing the issues. I believe it is important to discuss this up front. My approach to counseling is shaped by my Christian worldview and I refer to myself as a Christian psychologist. I have no expectation that you share my beliefs, but I respect a client's desire to be informed. Christianity teaches that although we are created to be in relationship with God and one another, brokenness entered the world and problems continue as a result. It is my belief that psychological problems--like all problems in our world--ultimately come from this brokenness. While simple sounding, it is not simplistic, and matters greatly from my perspective. To further the point, many aspects of our fallen world contribute to psychological problems, including historical, cultural, biological, experiential, personal, relational, and emotional factors. From that Christian worldview, my style involves exploring your personal history and current circumstances to identify feelings, thoughts, behaviors, assumptions, and relational patterns that contribute to your desire for counseling. Of note, my Christian worldview also teaches that you have dignity and worth simply because you were born, and despite the brokenness we all experience. Said another way, you matter. Both your personal values and mine will affect the process of counseling. You are free to ask for clarification about my beliefs and assumptions at any point in counseling.
Do you accept insurance?
I don't contract with insurance companies or directly bill them, but the good news is that you can. Some of the reasons are because it can hinder the counseling process: treatment can be terminated with little warning, only certain kinds of treatment may be allowed, and it can be difficult to be reimbursed. There are also times when client confidentiality or insurability is not maintained when health insurance is involved (for instance, getting disability or malpractice insurance after receiving a psychiatric diagnosis). Also, I keep a client load that allows for flexibility and responsiveness, which includes ample time between clients to reflect, write, and plan. With insurance reimbursement rates, I would need to see many more clients and the quality of service to you would erode.
Out-of-network reimbursement for mental health may be available to you via direct reimbursement from your insurance provider (often, couples or group therapy is not included), which you would get by submitting a statement of services and claim form. I do not submit these for you, but some clients do choose to do this. If you have requested it, I will provide a diagnosis if applicable, dates of service, and all charges on the statement, but will not divulge more detail than that about a client. Some insurance companies request information that I am unwilling to provide as a matter of policy, such as clinical information about your treatment or more detailed treatment reports. Please check with your insurance company about whether they require this so you will know if reimbursement could be problematic due to my policy.
Finally, you may be able to pay for counseling if you have a flexible spending account (FSA or HSA) through your employer. Counseling can be a significant out of pocket expense and I take that seriously, which is why the process of continual feedback is welcomed to make sure what is being done is working.
"Once you label me you negate me."
How many sessions are needed?
One way of answering this question is to say that counseling will last as long as you find the process useful and no more than that. That might be one session (rare, but does happen) although it is often more than that. It depends if you are looking for a brief consultation on a specific issue or are dealing with issues that are more long-term. While feeling better (symptom reduction) is important, many people (individuals and couples) find that counseling becomes more than that for them, they end up enjoying the process and exploring things beyond why they may have initially come in. Life circumstances may interfere as well and you may circle back to the process at a later date. Answering this question specifically would just be a guess but do know that overall well-being tends to improve the longer you are in counseling. Finally, it is a collaborative process, we discuss this early and as often as necessary to fit your needs.