What can I expect from working with you?
Before working with a client, we like to conduct a free, 1/2 hour phone consultation. This allows a person to get a sense of the kind of person and counselor they are speaking to, without presenting any out-of-pocket costs. It also gives us a sense of how we might best be able to serve that person. Our first 1 to 2 sessions are more focused on assessment, as we work with a client to understand their current concerns, as well as the various elements in their life that may impact those concerns and present resources for working on them. We work out of a relationship-based, collaborative approach to the counseling process, and use research-based theories and techniques to addressing client concerns. Our therapy may be brief, about 6-8 sessions on average, but it may also be longer if a client feels it is needed. We work from a perspective that people aren't "broken," but rather "stuck" in their life's journey; our therapy serves to help them get "unstuck," and headed in the direction of life they'd like to go.
What should I look for in a counselor?
Take time to get to know your counselor before committing to therapy with them, and try to avoid making decisions based solely on financial concerns alone. Ask the counselor what you can expect in your work with them, and for them to explain the theories they use in their work. It's important that a counselor be able to defend their practices with research and demonstrated effectiveness, as this will have implications for how well your work with them will go. We also recommend getting a sense of the time frame your counselor operates under; do they favor a brief therapy model, or long term therapy? This will impact the financial considerations for your treatment. Lastly, and we think, most importantly, take this time conversing with your therapist to get a sense of their personality, and how it matches with your own. Are they empathetic and nurturing, or deliberate and direct? Perhaps they are a mixture of the two? Do you find them to be relaxed and non directive, or more regimented and precise? Such considerations will help you to ensure that you and your therapist fit well together in the work you conduct.
What should I do if therapy with my counselor isn't helpful?
Firstly, don't hesitate to give feedback to your counselor; we want to know what is working and not working. If your counselor is ethical, they will be working as efficiently as possible with you - meaning, they won't be trying to unnecessarily stretch out the treatment, or skim past important things. Barring something unethical taking place (you feel your counselor is verbally, emotionally, or physically inappropriate, not behaving professionally, etc.) I recommend having a conversation with your counselor to see if the relationship, and the therapy, can be put onto a more productive track. Having specific things to point to (let's try doing more X, and less Y) helps. Remember, your counselor is invested in helping you to reach your goals. Working from a place of collaboration is an important means to accomplishing this!
But, let's say that having done all this, that you still feel like you're not getting what you need from your counselor. That's okay! You're entitled to a counseling experience that works for you, and sometimes the "fit" just doesn't work the way you'd like. I try to let people know that counseling, while very personal, is in some ways no different than hiring or firing a plumber. If the pipes aren't getting fixed like you need, you want to find a different plumber. In this vein, I strongly advise you find another counselor, rather than dropping therapy altogether; after all, you wouldn't live with a clogged toilet forever simply because your first plumber didn't get the job done, would you? Same goes for counseling. Your goals and needs are important. You deserve to meet them even if your first counseling experience hasn't gone the way you'd hoped! Take what you've learned (both about yourself and what you need from therapy) and bring it to the new counseling experience.
What do counselors actually do?
We're so glad you asked! The American Counseling Association (ACA) has created a convenient infographic that talks about what counselors do and how we work [click to make larger if needed]:
How should I prepare for the first session?
Clients may often feel nervous about coming to therapy, particularly if it is their first time in treatment. Typically, we send clients some paperwork to be completed between our consultation and first meeting (basic items like consent to be treated, privacy policies, and general contact information.) You'll want to bring that with you to the first in-person session. Be assured that we, like you, are just people. We are interested in helping you reach your personal goals, and don't want to hinder your personal journey; therefore, know that we will do everything we can to create a safe and accommodating experience for you. In your first session, we'll largely be getting to know each other. We'll ask you a lot about what's bringing you in for counseling, what your goals are for treatment, your family history and background, etc. You'll get to know our personalities, style of counseling, training, and thoughts about how we can work together. We work from what is sometimes called a fellow traveler's model for counseling; this means, that we rely on you for direction and expertise about your own life, and you rely on us for feedback and perspective that will help to guide your personal work. If there were a leader in the relationship, it would most definitely be you! Therefore, it's good to have an idea of what you'd like to do in our time together. Sometimes people like to bring specific notes and agendas with them, while other times, it's a general theme or thought they'd like to explore. Do what works for you based on your comfort; we'll always work to go with your flow.
What are your fees and rates?
We operate on what is known as a sliding-scale fee system. What this means, is that while we have a set rate for a psychotherapy hour (50 minutes), we are able to offer variable rates depending on your personal financial needs and limitations. We consider it to be an ethical mandate that anyone who needs counseling be able to get it; for this reason, we will always work with you to come to a fee that you feel doesn't add more stress to your life! If, for some reason, the sliding scale fee feels too much for you, we will work with you (free of charge) to get you connected to someone in the community that you can afford.
You can also see our
Local Resources page for additional information about low-cost counseling and other community resources in the South Florida area.
Do you take insurance?
In all honesty, the answer to this question is a bit tricky. Insurance, and managed care in general, put a lot of constraints on the length and kind of treatment an individual can receive. It also requires providers to administer a formal diagnosis to clients receiving treatment; these labels tend to carry with them many different messages and potential stigma. Additionally, as a health provider, we're required to supply confidential information (compliant with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, of course) to the insurance companies about your care and treatment; by avoiding the use of insurance, we are able to guarantee that your information remains completely confidential.
For this reason, we are not directly affiliated at this time with any specific insurance company. We are happy however, to support anyone who is interested in pursuing out of network coverage; in this form of claim, you would file a form with your healthcare company and receive partial-to-full reimbursement for your counseling. You get to control the sharing of information, however, which we believe is an important benefit to you. We can walk you through the process of checking coverage and filing a claim during one of our consultations, if needed.
Additionally, resources like
Better can conveniently file out-of-network claims directly on your behalf, with the use of therapy superbills that we can provide to you!