What can you expect as part of a counseling experience?
In an effort to make the process of counseling feel as familiar as possible, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions here.
What can I expect in a first counseling session?
Counseling is all about an intentional relationship, and the first session is the start of that relationship. Whether virtually or in person, there are a few things that happen during the first session.
The necessary parts of a first session:
- Brief introduction from the counselor
- Reviewing the “Informed consent” paperwork
- Reviewing practice policies and procedures
- Review confidentiality
Once those things are covered, the rest of the first session depends on you and your counselor’s style. In general however, the focus of the first session is on building a relationship. It is an opportunity for the counselor to learn about you and your life. In a lot of ways, it can feel a little bit like a detailed interview.
Is counseling a good fit for me?
In short – yes. Counseling is a good fit for anyone and everyone.
That said, every counselor is different and provides counseling in their own unique way. It is likely that one counselor may be a better fit for you than another. In light of that, it is good to remember that having a poor experience with one counselor does not mean it will be the same with every counselor.
How do I know if a specific counselor is a good fit for me?
It is the same way you know when you connect with a friend. More than there being an exact formula, it is something that you feel.
This is important because the effectiveness of counseling is almost entirely based on the relationship between the counselor and the client. So, if you meet with a counselor and you don’t feel as though you could really connect with them or can trust them – don’t force it. You deserve the best counseling experience possible, even if that means switching counselors.
If this happens, just let them know that it didn’t seem like a good fit and set up a meeting with a different counselor.
Is there anything i can do to improve my counseling experience?
This is a question that a lot of people ask about their counseling experience. The truth is that the biggest thing you can do to improve your counseling experience is to be yourself. Being yourself is the most effective way to make progress through counseling.
That said, if your counselor is doing something that is making it difficult to be yourself – it is okay to tell them.
What counseling services does Olive Counseling offer?
Olive offers a variety of services that include both individual and couples counseling.
All of our services are offered virtually in order to make it as convenient as possible to fit counseling into your life.
For more information, please check out our services page.
What does it mean for a counselor to have a “theoretical orientation”?
A theoretical orientation is the roadmap a counselor follows as they work with people. Every counseling theory has its own specific focuses that separate it from other theories. The different focuses guide the way that the counselor looks at and addresses what a person brings to counseling.
Typically, counselors are familiar with around two or three theories that they use predominantly. As an aside, it is good to be wary of counselors who list 20 or 30 different counseling theories on their profiles. This most likely indicates that they are not actually knowledgeable about any single theory, which is not a good thing.
If you’d like to learn more about Jacob’s theoretical orientation, please check out the “about” page.
How long does the process of counseling take?
Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to this question as it depends on the person and their experience.
That said, there are a few things that are generally true:
- Research indicates that people often begin to feel noticeable change after around 8-12 sessions of counseling.
- That said, it is common for things to actually feel a little worse before they feel better. It can most easily be described as cleaning a cut – the cut does not start to heal until the dirt gets cleaned out, but cleaning the dirt out is usually unpleasant.
- Working through deeply rooted issues takes time. While you are working through those issues, it is important that you are still able to function in your daily life. This means that at times it can be more important to address some day to day struggles and set aside the bigger picture goals for a brief period.
Does getting counseling mean that I have major issues?
No, getting counseling does not mean that you have major issues. Counseling as a profession is based on a model of thinking known as the Wellness Model. At the core of the Wellness Model is the idea that health exists on a spectrum and that the purpose of counseling is to support people in the process of becoming more healthy.
Does counseling have to be expensive?
On the front end, counseling almost always seems expensive – and it very well can be. There are a few reasons for that. First, counseling isn’t like a “regular” job where the counselor is paid equally for each hour of a 40 hour work week. In general, counselors only get “paid” for the time they are with clients even though each client requires additional time outside of sessions.
This other time is spent working on notes, messaging, billing, etc… so when you pay for the “hour” of counseling, you are actually paying for all the time that the counselor is investing in you that you may not directly see. In addition, there is the overhead of running a business (renting space, utilities, practice software, billing costs, etc).
So does all of that mean counseling has to be expensive? Not necessarily. The most obvious way counseling can be cheaper is through use of health insurance. This can mean seeing a counselor who is in-network with their insurance and the client only has to cover their deductible/co-pay.
Often counselors and other mental health providers will offer some amount of sliding-scale services. This means offering a limited number of lower cost sessions to those who could not otherwise afford services.
Alternatively clients can always use out-of-network benefits through their insurance company.
What is an “out-of-network” benefit?
When you want to work with a counselor or other healthcare provider, and they are not considered in-network for your insurance, it is often possible to get out-of-network benefits. This entails the client paying the full cost of services up front and then submitting an invoice or “Superbill” to their insurance company.
Insurance companies will often reimburse the client approximately 50% of the cost for services. This number is dependent on your insurance plan, and it is highly recommended that the client reach out directly to them and ask what is covered.
Does Olive Counseling take insurance?
We are excited to say that we do accept insurance!
Currently, we are contracted with Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, and Cigna.
We are also in the process of contracting with Aetna, so stay tuned on that.
Are there risks involved with using insurance?
Unfortunately, there are certain risks associated with utilizing insurance.
The first risk has to do with the privacy of your information. When you utilize insurance benefits, it gives your insurance company access to some of your records (diagnosis/treatment plans). So while we take HIPAA and the privacy of your information very seriously, we cannot guarantee what will happen with the information when it leaves our office.
Another important note is that using insurance requires that things shared with your insurance company are added to your permanent health record. This is not necessarily a concern, but it is important to note.
The second risk is that utilizing insurance does not guarantee that they will cover the cost of the sessions. In the event that the insurance company does not pay, you will be responsible for the cost of your sessions.
Have a question that was not answered here? Feel free to reach out via the contact form below and we’ll get you the answer.