Sandy Piacente, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
FAQ About Counseling
What is counseling like?
Counseling will be a different experience for different people, as we strive to meet your individual needs based on your unique set of circumstances. In your first session, which is called an "intake" appointment, you will be asked basic, informational questions and work with your therapist to establish goals for counseling.
What happens during the course of your counseling experience may differ over time, based on your situation, progress, or changes in your life. Your therapist may at times suggest exploring potential solutions such as relaxation training, journaling, role-playing, reading assignments, or even “homework.” How the therapeutic process will progress depends on your needs and goals.
What about couples counseling?
Couples counseling is an opportunity to work with your partner on issues that may be impacting your relationship. You may focus on communication skills, conflict resolution, or making decisions about your future together. Your therapist will serve as a mediator and guide during these discussions, and will help you work together to focus on and achieve specific goals for your relationship.
How often will I meet with my therapist?
The frequency of therapy is mutually agreed upon by you and your therapist and is largely based on your presenting issues and the goals of treatment. Group counseling and workshops usually meet weekly, though this may also vary.
It is very important that you arrive early or on-time for your scheduled appointments. Regular, timely attendance of your counseling sessions will help you to achieve your therapeutic goals. If for some reason you are unable to make it to your scheduled session, please call your therapist in advance, preferably 24-hours ahead.
How long will I have to be in therapy?
Many problems can be dealt with in a brief period of time, but this is not always the case. There is no magic number or formula to determine how long it may take. During your initial intake assessment, you and your therapist will have a conversation around making a determination of how your needs are best met.
You and your therapist will speak, during your sessions, about your progress. Eventually you and your therapist may determine that you have met your therapy goals. At this point, you may discuss your need for continued therapy. You may also bring up this topic at any time during your sessions.
When will I start to feel better?
Again, there is no set timetable for how long it will take until you feel better. Relief may come from a variety of sources, including making changes in your thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and choices, and may take time to achieve. However, many clients report that counseling can be helpful even after the first session. This may be because of the relief that comes from deciding to seek help, or an opportunity to speak about problems for the first time with someone who is impartial and nonjudgmental. Please remember: it is important that you share with your therapist if you are not experiencing any improvement after working in therapy for some time, so the two of you may determine what changes may need to be made.
COMMON MYTHS ABOUT COUNSELING:
- Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Contrary to this belief, it takes a great deal of emotional strength to seek help for problems that may be too overwhelming to manage alone.
- A therapist will fix my problems right away.
The goal of counseling is not for someone else to “fix” your problems. We are here to help you to identify those concerns and to set goals for yourself. Solving those problems may involve working with your therapist to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. In doing so, you can explore your options and make a decision for how to best achieve your goals. YOU are the best one to fix your problems!
- A therapist can’t understand what I am going through, because they’re not going through it themselves.
We agree that each individual is unique, and to achieve a complete understanding of one’s situation is very difficult. However, counselors have been trained to learn about, be sensitive to, and respectful of the unique experiences of each client. Those experiences may include concerns related to gender, age, cultural background, racial/ethnic differences, sexual orientation, gender identity, family-of-origin, or socioeconomic issues.