You made the decision to start therapy, and now things aren’t really going as well as you would have hoped they would go. Therapy is not only a very personal and private choice, sometimes it is hard to know what to expect when you haven’t ever been before. If you don't feel like sharing with others, it can be difficult to get the information you need in order to feel more prepared. If you are more familiar with what to expect, things may work a little more smoothly. Below are some things to know ahead of time before you start therapy.
Most states have a boards that monitor people who have licenses. For example, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist. My board is the Board of Behavioral Sciences. I encourage you to look up the person you may want to begin treatment with, and make sure they are licensed. If you do a google search, you can find what board governs each license.
Therapy should NEVER include sex. If this has happened, or if you find that you are unsure and have questions regarding this, your therapist should have a pamphlet they can give you titled “Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex.” You can also find the information here: Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex.
Any therapist you go to should be reviewing a document(s) with you called something similar to “Informed Consent and Practice Policies”. This will cover expectations of therapy and their own individual policies related to their practice. If you have any questions related to their policies or consent form, make sure you ask before you sign it.
If you go through insurance, it will be a part of your medical record. If you do not go through insurance, it will not be a part of your medical record.
If the therapist you choose does not accept insurance, but you would like to go through insurance, you can ask for a “super bill”. This has all the information you would need to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Make sure you check with your insurance company first to see what they cover, if anything, for out of network.
Some therapists offer a “sliding scale” for people who are struggling financially. If you do not feel like you can afford a fee, you can either look for a place that offers a lower fee or ask if the therapist you are seeing can offer a lower fee.
Therapy is not a one size fits all. Sometimes a person may only need to go into therapy for 3 months before seeing improvement and other times they can go for a year before seeing improvement. It really depends on the person, the situation, and the therapist. It is pretty common for people to go for 50 minutes each week. However, your therapist may suggest twice a week for 50 minutes, once every other week for 50 minutes, or they may suggest a 75-90 minute session.
Most therapists will recommend what they think is best for you based on their assessment. With that being said, you really do get to decide if you want to follow their recommendations or not. If something doesn't feel good, don’t do it. Talk to your therapist about it so you can collaborate and find something that works better. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your therapist about something, it may be time to re-evaluate if it is the best match for you.
Look out for my next blog in the series next month. It will address some of the reasons why therapy may not work once you have already started.