Responses to the following questions are some ideas shared by Renewal Resources participants. They should not be construed as policies or as being representative of all mental health professionals.
What is the difference between counseling and therapy?
Counseling and therapy are terms often used interchangeably; people often use them to mean essentially the same thing but there are some distinctions.
Counseling can address short-term solution focus treatment for a specific problem such as improving relationships, decreasing stress or making lifestyle changes. The term counseling is often used in school settings. Financial, religious and health professionals may offer advice as part of their counseling.
Therapy can include the components of counseling but it may also help the client to find the root causes of emotional and behavioral patterns. It may take longer but it also might have a more lasting impact on your life.
What are the different kinds of therapists?
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists have a Masters degree in a field related to psychology/counseling, have completed more than 3000 hours of supervised counseling and passed state board exams. They can work with people concerned about relationships: married or single of any age, about their relationships of any kind, defining family in any way they are part of relational networks.
A Pastoral Counselor has additional education to work with people on problems relating to religion, spirituality or as a personal guide for spiritual growth.
A Psychologist may have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. and has expertise in testing as well as working with more severe diagnoses.
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication and may talk with you briefly about symptoms and progress.
A Social Worker uses social theory to improve society as a whole as well as the lives of individuals through advocacy, education, linking resources and counseling.
An Intern has completed a Masters degree in a field related to and is being supervised while earning hours toward being licensed.
A Trainee is working on a Masters degree in a related field and can see a limited number of clients while being supervised.
What is therapy like?
As you share your story, the therapist listens carefully to help you unpack your thoughts and feelings and clarify your context. We try to check our understanding and rely on you to let us know if we’re hearing you well. Often within our dialogue you will hear yourself differently, begin to re-frame the situation and start to think differently in ways that change your daily life. Some therapists develop additional specialties, adding skills to help people with particularly challenging situations.
I’m nervous and embarrassed about asking for help. Will it be scary?
In counseling, you can be yourself, accepted unconditionally as you are right now, then supported and encouraged as you find your way through your concerns. The office becomes a transitional space where you can safely tell the truth as you see it. I work to provide a safe place where you can sort out what you really want in life and how to become the person you want to be in relationships that are nurturing.
Will what I say in therapy sessions be kept private and confidential?
Generally, what you say in therapy sessions will be kept confidential, however there are some exceptions. 1) If you are a threat to harm yourself or someone else; 2) If we have reasonable suspicion of the abuse or neglect of a minor, senior citizen or dependent adult; 3) your treatment records are requested by legal subpoena; 4) to collect payment for services rendered; 5) to coordinate your care with other medical and mental health professionals who work with you. Your records are locked securely and not shown to anyone without a legal subpoena.
How does talking about a problem help? I want to be sure we get something done.
Therapy is imminently practical, dealing with life’s stress and transitions, tasks and stages of grief (whatever the loss), and usually conflict resolution. As you find emotional or spiritual healing, you can only take responsibility for yourself, but the impact often extends beyond you as an individual to the family network.
As you talk, we will listen carefully and you will be able to hear yourself more clearly than if you just thought or journal about the problem. Through therapy you increase your awareness of your own thoughts and feelings so that you can make increasingly healthy, responsible choices in terms of how you relate to others around you.
Can’t I just read a book or talk to a friend?
Reading books, talking to friends, meditation, and exercise are great ways to care for yourself, and they are good supplements to therapy. There may be things you don’t want to tell your friend or you may wear out your friendship if you lean too heavily on someone. Friends don’t always keep confidences and usually don’t have the specialized training. Reading books can give you good ideas; meditation and exercise can calm your body and brain. But a confidential relationship with a skilled professional is a valuable resource for navigating challenging situations.
What are the regular office hours?
9-5 Monday Through Wednesday are the normal office hours. Sometimes an early morning or evening appointment can be arranged.
According to CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist), “under California law, ‘Telehealth’ is the delivery of health care services using information and communication technologies to consult, diagnose, treat, or educate a patient while the patient is at an ‘originating site’ and the health care provider is at a ‘distant site’. The ‘originating site’ is the site where a patient is located at the time health care services are provided through a telecommunications system.” Telehealth is a live, real-time, interactive, audiovisual, two-way communication. An example of a live, real-time, interactive communication is therapy performed over the telephone or through videoconferencing.
How much does it cost?
Sliding Scale: $150 is the full fee for a 50 minute session. $200 for 80 minute session. Fees can be reduced to $135, $110 or $80 The Sliding Scale is based on financial need, time, work in service to the community, length of appointment, and number of people participating in the therapy.
Checks would be made payable to Renewal Resources.
Credit Cards Accepted: Visa, Master Card, American Express, Health Savings Account
The charge on your card will indicate payments made to Renewal Resources.
You may request a receipt (superbill) that can be submitted by you to your insurance company. They will then reimburse you according to the details of your insurance plan.
How often would we meet? How long are the sessions?
Typically, therapy sessions are once weekly for 50 minutes for 6-12 weeks. By 12 weeks, we can discuss your situation and you will decide whether you need to continue to come weekly for a while longer or if you are ready to come every other week. For EMDR or marital work, 90 minute sessions are recommended but not required. For clients wishing to work more intensively on their issues, meeting twice per week is possible.
What are the risks and benefits? Will I come “unglued”? Will I get better?
There are no guarantees, but most people gain insight and encouragement to make the changes they want for their relationships. Many people see significant gains within the first 12 sessions.
Isn’t going for therapy a sign of weakness?
I see entering therapy as a sign of strength, maturity and courage. To choose counseling is a mark of becoming personally responsible for yourself rather than blaming others or hiding from the problems that all of us have. Therapy is a way of working towards your highest potential to gain the greatest value from life.
Renewal Resources is a nonprofit, public benefit organization which offers our community care and compassion, strategies and support, to nurture your inner resources toward bringing light into the darkness with hope, meaning, and healing. 408-420-7895