How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, grief, stress management, and body image issues. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.
What happens during our first session?
Your first session will last 75 minutes. If you are a teen client, then I ask that both you and at least one parent/guardian attend the first session. Your parent/guardian will be part of the first 30 minutes and during this time I will ask about your personal history, symptoms, previous experiences in treatment and family dynamics. This is different from typical sessions in which your parents will usually not be present.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
I am an out-of-network provider. If your insurance allows for use of an out-of-network provider (most PPOs and Open Access plans allow this) you may be reimbursed for services. Call your insurance company for more information regarding your coverage.
I handle all the billing for individual sessions and evaluations for you so you won't have too. Once per month I will provide you with a bill which you can send to your insurance company for all sessions scheduled the previous month. If your insurance allows you to use an out-of-network provider, your insurance company will send you a reimbursement check. Services may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. Please check your coverage carefully by asking the following questions:
- Do I have out of network benefits for mental health?
- What is the out of network coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
As a general rule, I will keep the information you share with me in our sessions confidential, unless I have your written consent to disclose certain information. There are, however, important exceptions to this rule that are important for you to understand before you share personal information with me in a therapy session. In some situations, I am required by law or by the guidelines of my profession to disclose information whether or not I have your permission. I have listed some of these situations below.
Confidentiality cannot be maintained when:
- You tell me you plan to cause serious harm or death to yourself, and I believe you have the intent and ability to carry out this threat in the very near future. I must take steps to inform a parent or guardian of what you have told me and how serious I believe this threat to be. I must make sure that you are protected from harming yourself.
- You tell me you plan to cause serious harm or death to someone else who can be identified, and I believe you have the intent and ability to carry out this threat in the very near future. In this situation, I must inform your parent or guardian, and I must inform the person who you intend to harm.
- You are doing things that could cause serious harm to you or someone else, even if you do not* intend *to harm yourself or another person. In these situations, I will need to use my professional judgment to decide whether a parent or guardian should be informed.
- You tell me you are being abused-physically, sexually or emotionally-or that you have been abused in the past. In this situation, I am required by law to report the abuse to the Maryland Department of Social Services.
- You are involved in a court case and a request is made for information about your counseling or therapy. If this happens, I will not disclose information without your written agreement unless the court requires me to. I will do all I can within the law to protect your confidentiality, and if I am required to disclose information to the court, I will inform you that this is happening.
Will you tell my parents what we talk about in our sessions?
I will not tell your parent or guardian specific things you share with me in our private therapy sessions. This includes activities and behavior that your parent/guardian would not approve of — or would be upset by — but that do not put you at risk of serious and immediate harm. However, if your risk-taking behavior becomes more serious, then I will need to use my professional judgment to decide whether you are in serious and immediate danger of being harmed. If I feel that you are in such danger, I will communicate this information to your parent or guardian. I will always do my best to let you know first, before I break confidentiality.
If we ask a parent to join a session, I may sometimes describe problems in general terms, without using specifics, in order to help them know how to be more helpful to you. You can always ask me questions about the types of information I would disclose. You can ask in the form of “hypothetical situations,” in other words: “If someone told you that they were doing ____, would you tell their parents?” Even if I have agreed to keep information confidential – to not tell your parent or guardian – I may believe that it is important for them to know what is going on in your life. In these situations, I will encourage you to tell your parent/guardian and will help you find the best way to tell them.
Below are examples of scenarios in which I may break confidentiality.
- Example: If you tell me that you have tried alcohol at a few parties, I would keep this information confidential. If you tell me that you are drinking and driving or that you are a passenger in a car with a driver who is drunk, I would not keep this information confidential from your parent/guardian. If you tell me, or if I believe based on things you’ve told me, that you are addicted to alcohol, I would not keep this information confidential.
- Example: If you tell me that you are having protected sex with a boyfriend or girlfriend, I would keep this information confidential. If you tell me that, on several occasions, you have engaged in unprotected sex with people you do not know or in unsafe situations, I will not keep this information confidential. You should also know that, by law in Maryland your parent/guardian has the right to see any written records I keep about our sessions. It is extremely rare that a parent/guardian would ever request to look at these records.