What IS counseling and/or psychotherapy? Counseling is a place to talk about ANYTHING that is on your mind with an open-minded listener who is trained to treat emotional health concerns or work through the normal challenges of being human in a stressful world. We don't often have the opportunity to sit down for an hour and focus solely on our own growth and development with an unbiased guide/listener/coach. Counseling gives you that opportunity.
In most cases, counseling works best when there is a weekly or bi-weekly session. How many sessions is determined by the needs and goals of the individual client.
Isn't it sort of weird to talk to someone you don't know? Well, yes...it can feel sort of weird at first. It's perfectly reasonable to be wary about talking to someone you don't know. Kyrie and Anna are accustomed to clients feeling nervous, and they work to create an open, inviting, and comfortable environment. By the end of the first session, clients are usually feeling all of the following; a) much more comfortable; b) happy it wasn't thatweird, c) relieved to FINALLY talk about what's going on.
Wouldn't it be easier to just use medication? In some cases, medication can be quite helpful for individuals with diagnoses such as clinical depression or anxiety. Kyrie and Anna routinely refer clients to medical providers and work together with prescribers to form a supportive and effective treatment plan.
However, decades of research in mental health clearly shows that the most effective treatments usually include a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Over the long term, therapy often has a superior outcome to medication alone. This is because therapy teaches you problem-solving skills, examines unhelpful thought patterns, and assists you in creating a lifestyle that is supportive of emotional health and personal goals. Medication alone cannot do any of those things.
How do know if I need counseling? If you are looking at this website, chances are there is something in your life that isn't feeling right. You may be struggling with your mood, struggling with your body, or feeling stuck in distressing patterns or behaviors. You have probably tried to help yourself through it but aren't making the kind of progress you would like. Consider trying a session or two to see what it's like. Truthfully, counseling can help almost any person who is motivated and interested in personal development. We all have the potential to learn and grow.
What kind of therapies do Kyrie and Anna use? First and foremost, we believe that a strong, therapeutic relationship is the vital ingredient that allows counseling to work. A therapist could have the best skills and experience, but if you don't trust or feel comfortable with that person, then those things won't matter. For that reason, we place great importance on building rapport and a "team" approach.
That said, a therapeutic relationship is not the full story. It's necessary but not sufficient. We stay on top of mental health research and participate in continuing education and consultation so we can provide evidence-based treatment. This means that clinical studies show that our methods are helpful. To make a comparison, when you go to your doctor, just talking about the problem isn't enough. It might feel good to vent, but you will actually need to DO something specific to address the issue.
This is where evidence-based treatment comes in. Kyrie and Anna often use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has strong research support for issues like disordered eating, OCD, depression, anxiety, and managing chronic pain. The cognitive part of CBT looks at common thought patterns and underlying core beliefs that may feed into your issue. The behavioral component encourages you to take actions that will be helpful in breaking the negative feedback loop between thoughts and feelings, moving you closer to your goals, such as feeling less depressed. For anxiety and panic treatment, helpful actions often include gradually exposing yourself to your fear triggers. Over time, your brain habituates to these triggers and stops sounding the alarm bells.
For OCD treatment, Kyrie uses a specific subset of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention. This is a very effective treatment for OCD, and in fact, one of the only treatments that tends to work in the long-term. For more info on OCD and treatment, visit the International OCD Foundation, of which Kyrie is a member.
Kyrie and Anna are additionally trained in a mindfulness-based behavioral approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT helps clients develop "psychological flexibility" which includes the ability to hold and accept difficult emotions and experiences while at the same time taking committed actions towards important values. ACT is well researched and helpful for many issues that people may address in therapy.
Your therapist will always be upfront with you if she is recommending a particular treatment. It's important that you feel comfortable and have a good understanding of any therapeutic approach. Please contact Kyrie or Annawith questions!
Does health insurance cover counseling? Insurance covers issues considered "medically necessary." This means that a person must have a diagnosable condition (such as depression or anxiety), in order to use insurance. Your therapist is trained to provide diagnosis and will be up-front in discussing this with you in the first few visits. Mental health parity laws mean that mental health conditions must be covered the same way as other medical conditions. This means that if you normally pay your doctor a co-pay or deductible, the same payment will likely apply to counseling visits (although there are some exceptions). We recommend that you contact your insurer prior to your first visit to discuss your plan, so there are no surprises. Your therapist can also check your benefits for you and discuss your out of pocket costs.
Many people ask about using insurance for Couples Counseling. If one member of a couple has a diagnosis, and couples therapy will be helpful in treating that issue, then yes, couples counseling may be covered by insurance. The complicating issue is that most couples are interested in working on communication, conflict, infidelity, or other common relationship issues - and these presenting issues are likely not considered "medically necessary." Your therapist will not diagnose a mental health issue just so insurance can be used. That would be considered insurance fraud. In those cases, couples counseling will be self-pay.
Is counseling really confidential? Yes. Kyrie and Anna take confidentiality very seriously and follow legal and ethical requirements of the profession. In most cases, your written consent is required before any information is shared. There are a couple of exceptions:
Mental health professionals are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. If a client tells a therapist of an abusive situation involving a person currently under the age of 18, they have to make a report to Child Protective Services.
Therapists have to take action if a person is immediately at risk of harming oneself or harming someone else.
In rare cases, a client's clinical record could be subpoenaed by a court and therapists may legally have to comply, but would provide only the minimum information required. Please note that neither Kyrie or Anna seek to become involved in legal disputes and do not perform child custody evaluations or expert witness services.
If a client is a minor (under age 18), then parents and/or legal guardians may legally have access to parts of the clinical record. However, we work with parents and minor clients to honor the spirit of confidentiality when possible. We want all clients to feel that counseling is a safe place to process difficult issues.