The following is a post I wrote for a local publication.

Thinking About Therapy? Let’s talk about some common questions. (Part 1)

With the pandemic going on, our lives are continually facing difficulties and disappointments from last year’s lost graduations to lost sports seasons. Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 10.40.11 AM

Some are undoubtedly minor inconveniences, while others are events and possibilities that only come along once in a lifetime.
With that, grief has come for all of us in different ways.
Then there is the loss of life.

Death from the virus.
Death from suicide.
Relationship stress.
Marriages strained.
Parenting skills are nearly depleted.
With all of these stressors, many people are turning to therapy for help. And yet, many others are still suspicious of counseling. Some people are afraid of what counseling is like and what happens in a session.

This series will attempt to answer the most common questions we encounter about counseling.

What does it cost?

Cost is, by far, one of the most common questions that we field with people looking into therapy. The truth is that prices vary. And the factor is often insurance companies dictate what the cost to the client is going to be. They dictate to us what we are to charge their patients. We do have a self-pay option for clients who do not wish to utilize insurance or do not have insurance. Almost all clinics that I know of have this option as well.

What about Insurance?

“Will you take my insurance?” is an incredibly common question I am asked whenever I discuss counseling options with someone. The truth is that almost every counselor I know will take every insurance that will work with them, but not every insurance will work with all therapists.

The truth is that in the state of Michigan, you can go to Graduate School and earn a counseling degree. You can pass multiple licensing stages, and an insurance company can still decide not to work with you. I wrote about this on my website at search, “your insurance company is working against you.”

The short answer is that we will take every insurance company that works with us. If you have a question about it, I encourage you to call your insurance company or the office you’re thinking of for counseling. At our counseling agency, we have many therapists in-network with a variety of insurance companies.

My company has an EAP. What does that mean?

Employee Assistance Programs, also called EAP’s are a widespread benefit for most companies today. We work with every EAP that we have ever encountered at our agency and can easily add a company if we do not currently work with them. EAP’s will typically cover the cost of a session for three to eight sessions. I have worked with one company that covered up to twelve sessions for their employees. Sometimes, churches will also cover some sessions for people in their congregation. You should check with your HR department or your local church to see if you qualify for coverage.

I can’t afford any of those options, can I still get help?

The answer to this question will vary from agency to agency. A lot of therapists will run a schedule with a couple of free slots in them. The balance that counseling agencies have to straddle is the tension between wanting to help everyone and paying the bills.

To help achieve those two seemingly competing goals, some agencies will have interns. My agency has an intern program to help people who can’t afford counseling in more traditional means.
At our agency, I am currently the Intern supervisor. Interns have state-required educational hours and courses and need to get real-life experience in clinical hours. Some people might find it helpful to think of interns like residents. Typically, there is a small charge for this service, as therapy has proven to be more beneficial for those who make some payments.

Can my company get my records?

When someone takes advantage of an EAP, they are sometimes concerned about who can get the counseling records. With minimal exceptions, your privacy trumps everything else. Your company cannot get your files unless you sign off on a form giving them permission or some other arrangement for the process to begin. In this situation, the Law requires that you be informed of those arrangements before beginning counseling.

How long is a typical session?

I've heard about sessions that go for hours and hours and can only speak for our agency. Typically, a session is somewhere between forty-five minutes to a full hour. This allows your therapist to have a few moments to transition to their next client. Most of my clients report that the time seems to fly by and are often surprised when I tell them it's time to end.

Next month we’ll cover what happens in the first session, what researchers think is the most important variable to consider in counseling and more. If you have a question for me about counseling, feel free to contact me through my webpage and I’ll try to answer it in a future session.

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