If you are having thoughts of suicide and need help right away, call 911 or call the VOA Crisis Line at (800-584-3578).

 The Counseling Process

What are the key differences between psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed mental health counselors and social workers?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) and can prescribe medication in addition to providing therapy. Clinical Psychologists (Ph.D, Psy.D) have Doctoral degrees; Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Licensed Clinical Social Workers have Master's degree in Psychology (M.S., M.A.), Education (M.Ed), or Social Work (M.S.W.). Clinical Psychologists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Licensed Clinical Social Workers are not medical doctors and do not prescribe medication. They all provide services ranging from psychological assessment to psychotherapy, counseling, case management and more.

What is the difference between counseling and therapy?

These terms tend to be used interchangeably and have quite a bit of overlap. In a very broad sense, counseling has historically been seen as more focused on helping clients develop skills for coping with immediate concerns in a relatively short course of treatment. Psychotherapy tends to refer to a deeper process of examining long-standing ways of perceiving and responding to the world that aren't working very well and can be changed. 

How long will I be in counseling/how often should I come?

As your counselor, I will not keep you in counseling any longer than necessary to help you reach your goals. Most people come in once a week at the beginning and then less frequently as they feel better. You can stop coming anytime you wish. If I think you would get better results with a counselor who uses a different style or approach, I will refer you to one.

How will I know when I'm done with counseling?

Because you will have met the goals we established together at the beginning of treatment. The issues you came in for will be either resolved or will be greatly improved.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Yes. For counseling to be successful, it is essential that you are able trust your counselor to keep your personal and private matters completely confidential. I take this very seriously and am extremely careful with all client information.

Are there any exceptions to my confidentiality?

If I have good reason to believe one of the following is occurring, I am required by law to contact the authorities:

  • Serious child, adult, or elder abuse
  • Serious or imminent threats to harm someone else
  • Threats of property destruction
  • Thoughts of harming yourself and unwilling to develop and follow a safety plan/contract.

Many people with mental health and emotional problems experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others. I will work with you to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Who else might see my records?

I will get your written permission (Release of Information) before releasing any treatment records.  If you want me to bill your insurance company, I will need a release of information to provide them with certain information, such as your diagnosis and the type of counseling provided. If you don't want your insurance company to have access to any of your treatment records, you can choose to private pay for my services. If you change your mind later, we can assist you in billing your insurance company. If it would be beneficial for me to disclose information to another party, I will only do so after we have discussed it and you have signed a Release of Information.

How does online counseling work?

Online counseling allows you to receive treatment from the comfort of your home or a location that you choose while still being able to communicate with your counselor through voice, sound, and video. As long as I can see and hear you, I have enough information to perform my job at the highest standard. Appointments are still required.

If I am receiving online counseling, will I ever see you in person?

I would prefer to meet with you in person for your first session, however, it is not required.

How secure is online counseling?

I do online counseling sessions through a high security private videoconferencing service in order to protect your confidentiality. Videoconferencing software such as Skype is *not* secure, and although other counselors use it, I am not willing to risk your privacy by doing so. 

What equipment do I need for online counseling?

A headset and microphone are required to have a conversation. A webcam is strongly encouraged because being able to see you is very helpful, but it's not absolutely necessary. I will make sure you know how to use the secure videoconferencing service; it's user-friendly. 

What is telemental health and is online counseling legitimate/effective?

Online counseling, also known as telemental health, is a branch of telemedicine. (It may also be called e-therapy, Internet therapy, distance counseling, among other terms). It's not a completely new therapeutic approach; it's a different way for counselors to deliver therapy services when it's hard for the client to get to their office. Existing research indicates that online counseling can be equally as effective as traditional face to face counseling in addition to being convenient and time/cost effective. Because there are some important differences between the two methods, it's best to find a professional with specific credentials in distance work. I am a Distance Credentialed Counselor (D.C.C), a course of training approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and an Affiliate of the Telemental Health Institute, Inc.