What is a session like?
Therapy has its share of stereotypes: supine on a couch while you cry into a tissue about your mother. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy are different. In fact, focusing on past hurts and frustrations can be counterproductive to your progress as it can encourage negative rumination and even more anxiety. Sure, your past is relevant and will be addressed, but the main focuses of each session are your strengths and how to harness those into symptom relief and goal attainment. Many people are afraid to come to therapy because they don't want to talk about their feelings or get all touchy-feely. If that sounds like you or a loved one, this type of therapy might be a good match. Clients describe sessions as intense conversations in which we focus on solutions and learn new tools.
Sessions are around 50 minutes in length. The session usually ends with a recap of the discussion and homework for the next week, such as making a list of goals or having a conversation you've been putting off.
What is the difference between a counselor, psychologist, and psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a doctor who has attended medical school and done a residency in psychiatry. In many states, psychiatrists and other medical doctors are the only professionals who can prescribe psychiatric medications. Many psychiatrists focus on severe issues such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. These challenges usually require a combination of therapy and medication.
A clinical psychologist is a professional who has earned a PhD or a PsyD in clinical psychology. In most states, psychologists cannot prescribe medication, but are trained to work with individuals who have either mild or severe psychological issues. Some psychologists do not work as therapists, but instead teach at universities or conduct psychological research.
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are generally Master's-level psychotherapists who are focused exclusively on providing therapy to individuals, couples, or families. Many counselors focus on common life issues, including stress and anxiety, mild to moderate depression, relationship conflicts, and work or career development. Although counseling graduate programs include a great deal of psychology, the emphasis is more on working with "problems of normal living" rather than severe mental illnesses, which is the focus for many psychiatrists and psychologists.
How long can I expect to be in therapy?
"My therapist is great! I’ve been seeing her for ten years!" Seeing a therapist for that long with little change serves as a way to keep you stuck in your own anxious patterns—and you're paying for it! You’ve simply transferred your anxiety to the therapist office. Using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy, most clients see a significant change after weekly appointments for 8-12 weeks. Some clients take their skills and put them to use on their own, and discontinue therapy after a few months. Some clients decide that they want to continue with regular check-in sessions to capitalize on the work that we have done. Most of the work happens in the first few weeks, but the positive changes will snowball as your new skills are put into practice and you plant seeds for future success. Therapy is work, but with persistent small changes, you can create the life that you've always wanted. This time next year, your life can look vastly different—in a positive way.
How much does it cost? Do you take insurance?
Sessions cost $145. Like many therapists in Dallas, I do not take insurance and have chosen to be an out-of-network provider. Why? Most insurance carriers require that you receive a diagnosis, and while diagnoses can be helpful in certain cases, they become part of your medical record. Many clients highly value their anonymity while receiving treatment for anxiety or depression and prefer to keep this private mental health matter confidential. Still, if you would like to use insurance, I can provide you with a receipt for service, which you can give to your insurance company so that they may reimburse you for your session if mental health treatment is part of your plan.
Therapy is a monetary investment, but consider the financial implications of the anxiety itself: missed days of work, more frequent trips to the doctor, lost opportunities in your career, not to mention the psychosocial implications of lost fun times with friends and family. Further, this type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is time-limited, which means that you are in and out of therapy faster, which cuts down on overall costs. Still, if you feel certain that this clinic is a right fit for you and you are concerned about cost, reach out to discuss sliding scale options.
I went to my doctor for a physical symptom, and the doctor said that my symptoms were actually due to anxiety. How can therapy help?
In primary care, more than half of outpatient medical visits are for somatic (bodily) complaints that are are often associated with depression and anxiety. Many people are surprised to find that anxiety is at the root of some of their physical sensations, such as stomach or bowel problems, nervous system issues like tremors or migraines, etc. That is not to say that your anxiety is why you got sick, but anxiety can trigger a cascade of physiological reactions that result in a nervous stomach, headache, and more. The connection is so prominent that gastroenterologists and neurologists increasingly receive specialized training in the psychology behind many of the common disorders they see. If your doctor has concluded that your physical symptoms are due to anxiety, treating the anxiety effectively can help relieve or sometimes even eliminate the physical symptoms.
Do you prescribe medication?
No, I am a licensed professional counselor, not a medical doctor. Internists and psychiatrists prescribe medication, and I do work with and refer to both types of professionals should medication be a necessity. Still, a vast majority of clients can eliminate or reduce their anxiety effectively by learning the right tools and coping mechanisms, without the side effects or dependence upon medication. Medication does have an important place in mental health treatment plans and should always be considered a viable treatment option. Still, the tools offered by therapy are often just as effective as medication in studies comparing the two, and the skills learned in therapy last for a lifetime—not just for the length of the prescription.