Q: How does counseling work?
A: Counseling works by allowing a counselor access to your world, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to help you discover ineffective patterns causing you pain and upgrade your interactions with the world and yourself to more effective methods. Counselors generally are people who have experienced years of counseling as clients themselves and found the process so rewarding that they could not help but want to help others realize the life changing benefits of counseling too. Counselors are trained to focus therapeutic interventions in the client’s best interests for their mental health. Though well-meaning, family and friends tend to nudge you in directions that satisfy their own needs or desires. Counselors have your best interests in mind from the start. Our goal is to guide you out of pain and into effectiveness in many areas of your life. Counselors are trained to notice patterns of dysfunctional thinking and behaving that often result in your unwanted emotional distress. They then guide clients through interventions that improve clients’ ways of thinking and behaving so that clients’ experiences in relation to others is more satisfying and less painful. Some common therapy methods include psychodynamic, experiential, existential, behavioral, family systems, cognitive-behavioral, and narrative. Gottman Method couples therapy integrates many of these types of therapies into one comprehensive method. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) is one of the widely used methods for resolving traumatic backgrounds. Most therapists use combinations of a few methods, referred to as “eclectic.”
Q: How do I know whether I really need counseling?
A: Counseling is a great idea when you keep running into the same types of issues repeatedly in your life. Do you keep getting into relationships that make you feel badly about yourself? Do you keep finding jobs that suck the energy out of you and leave you feeling empty inside? Are you depressed? Anxious? Lonely? Angry? Do you find others rejecting you often because of your anger, alcohol use, or telling lies? Do you seem to keep noticing the same struggles recurring at in different areas of your life? Did you endure childhood abuse or trauma that you have not yet resolved with a counselor? If you feel stuck in any of these situations, counseling is a great way for you to finally overcome that which has been holding you prisoner in your life. If you are wondering if you really need counseling, you likely need counseling.
Q: Why should I tell my innermost secrets to a stranger?
A: We all experience life through our subject lenses, shaped by our early experiences in life. When we have been abused or traumatized, especially in our childhoods, we learn to filter even “good” events in life as “bad” or “threatening.” Often times what was once a helpful survival method in our youth turns into very harmful dysfunctional behavior in adulthood. Our brains tell us we are still under attack when in fact we are not. We still operate hypervigilantly toward others or ourselves, defending against perceived threats that may not still exist even though we believe so. We never saw the signal that we no longer need to defend against others at all costs.
Counselors are highly trained in recognizing and providing insight into these patterns people develop yet cannot see in themselves. Counselors hold your disclosures confidential in a space where you can allow your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors the freedom to express themselves. Unlike friends and family, counselors are held to strict ethical and legal standards of confidentiality and positive response toward your goals. We focus on helping you recognize and achieve your best interests rather than persuading you to meet our personal agenda like most friends and family do.
Q: Does it mean I am a weak man if I go to counseling?
A: Absolutely not. Men who seek out counseling on their own display more strength than those who refuse to go. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and maturity. It takes courage and humility to admit we do not have all of the answers. It just so happens that courage and humility are two of the core traits of successful men, whether in relationships or work. Weak egos prevent men from seeking help when needed because they believe they have to somehow already know everything all of the time. Read any biography on any successful man and I guarantee you will read about a man who reached out to a counselor, mentor, professor, or role model who helped them along their way to success. Asking for help from a counselor shows that you are teachable, willing to learn, ambitious, and humble. These are traits of men and women enjoying fulfilling lives.
Q: How much does counseling cost?
A: The more effort you put into counseling, the less it costs overall. Contrary to what you are probably thinking, the more you invest in counseling per session the more effort you will likely be motivated to give to it. Ok, I know you want hard numbers, so here they are. My regular session rate is $100 per 50-minute session and $150 per 75-minute session. The average rate per 50-minute session in the Folsom, CA area is approximately $150 and as high as $360 per 90-minute session. As a Registered Associate MFT, my rates are much lower than the average rate in the area. Once I am fully licensed, my rates will be commensurate with local rates.
Q: How long does it take therapy to start working?
A: It greatly depends on how much effort you put into it, as well as the extent of the issues we are working on. Many clients feel relief after the first session, with increasing improvement over time. Therapy is a process, not a pill you swallow when you get a headache.
Q: How long do I need to be in therapy?
A: The only honest answer is as long as it takes. Think about the problems facing you right now. How long did it take those problems to develop into what they are today? Chances are that these problems have taken many years to develop into what they are today. The good news is that therapy tends to be successful in much less time, but it can take months (or a year or more for early childhood trauma) to resolve most issues. The important thing is to recognize that whether or not you delay starting to work on the problems in your life, it will not shorten the amount of time needed to improve your life. If anything, problems tend to get worse over time until we are willing to face them head-on. So, the question really is: How long do you want to stay stuck in your current painful situation?
Q: How do I know which counselor is right for me?
A: It is no secret that finding the right counselor can be very confusing because there are so many different levels of qualifications for professionals in the mental health field. The short answer is: If you are seeking counseling to improve your relationship with yourself or others, you will likely get the most benefit at the lowest cost by working with a Master’s Degree level counselor or therapist (Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)), such as myself.
Let me give you an overview of the three main types of mental health clinicians are out there, what the difference is between them, and how to find the best one for you.
First of all, there are three main categories of clinicians out there, differentiated by their level of education: Master’s Degree (MA/MS), Doctorate (PhD and PsyD), and Medical Doctor (MD). The Master’s Degree level counselors are your LMFT/MFTs and LPCCs, referred to as “Counselors” and “Therapists.” I have my Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology. We are designated to help individuals, couples, and families improve their relationships with others.
The next education level up is the Doctorate level with your PhDs and PsyDs, who are referred to as “Psychologists.” These professionals can do the same work Master’s Degree level clinicians do as well as administer psychological tests and mental health diagnostic assessments. Psychologists are often hired by school districts, attorneys, courts, and other officials to determine the official mental health diagnosis and condition of individuals. In accordance with their additional education and skill sets, they typically charge higher rates than Counselors and Therapists.
The highest level mental health professionals are Psychiatrists, who are Medical Doctors (MDs) with an additional two or more years of training in psychological and pharmacological applications beyond medical school. These professionals prescribe medications for patients with psychological challenges, from depression to psychosis. Though typically you would not seek out counseling from a Psychiatrist, they do spend some time asking counseling type questions in their medical assessments. Counselors/Therapists and Psychologists often work in conjunction with Psychiatrists when counseling indicates medical intervention may be in the client’s best interest.
As with any professional you hire, finding the right fit for you may require a bit of trial and error. Effective counseling requires that clients feel at ease with their counselor. One would likely never open up with anyone with whom they do not feel comfortable. Personality and counseling style or approach are two major factors influencing whether you will work well with a given counselor.
Master’s Degree level “Counselors” and “Therapists” focus on developing interpersonal counseling skills
Doctorate level (PhD & PsyD) “Psychologists” focus on developing teaching or research skills and perform most forensic and legal psychological tests
Medical Doctor level “Psychiatrists” focus on developing skills in treating mental health conditions using medicine
If you are seeking counseling to improve your relationship with yourself or others, you will likely get the most benefit at the lowest cost from working with a Master’s Degree level counselor or therapist, such as myself.
Q: What geographic areas do you serve?
A: I provide therapy services at The Place Within in Folsom. With offices just off Folsom Blvd and Highway 50, I am conveniently located to serve clients in the Folsom, Granite Bay, El Dorado Hills, Fair Oaks, Gold River, Orangevale, Roseville, Rocklin, and greater Sacramento areas. I also offer video/tele-therapy for some existing clients who move out of the Sacramento area within California.
Q: What is expected of clients in counseling?
A: Great question! Some people think that counseling is a pay-for-answers transaction. Maybe Lucy from the Peanuts gang has given the general population the wrong idea. The fact is that counseling is not a pay-for-answers transaction. If you have ever been to a “counselor” or “therapist” who has simply handed over the answers to life, then you have not been to a counselor or therapist - you’ve been to a psychic. MFTs are legally and ethically forbidden from telling you what you should do with your life. It is not even in your best interest to have someone else tell you what you should do. The point of counseling is growth. There is no growth in paying someone else to do your work. You wont be happy with the results anyway, because you’ll still be living your life according to someone else’s values and interests.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get onto what is expected of clients in therapy:
Clients show up on time. It’s really a great way to set yourself up for success by arriving early, so you can use the restroom, get a drink of water, etc. before our session begins.
Clients do the work. Therapists guide clients through the process. Some clients are under the impression that the therapist operates on them like a dentist extracting a rotten tooth. This is not how therapy works. Clients are the experts on their inner world, so the therapist cannot do the work for you. Only you can operate on you. Therapists are simply guides on your journey. Part of being prepared for a session includes clients bringing stuff to work on to every session.
Clients must exert themselves despite challenges. Poor people think rich people have it easy in life. Rich people wish they had fewer problems. College grads with they had 20 years of experience in life. 45-year-olds with they were 22 again. Remember this: everyone has problems. Everyone. Even people you know who appear perfect, like they always have everything together - they have problems too. They’re just hiding them from you. So, clients are expected to focus on themselves and put solid effort into doing the work every session. There are 168 hours in a week. I ask for solid effort for 1+/- hour. You can do it, and I will help you overcome the hurdles. Like I always say, “Just because things are difficult to do doesn’t mean we can’t do them!”
Clients need to be honest with themselves, their partners/spouses, and the therapist. Therapy does absolutely nothing for you if you are not honest throughout the process. One might pull off lying to oneself, their spouse, or me for the time being, but ultimately they will fail. The truth always prevails. There’s no sense in wasting time in therapy if one cannot be honest. Showing up because your spouse “forced” you to go while being dishonest or disingenuous will result in the same outcome as not coming at all.
Clients must admit that they way they’re doing things now is not working. Clients come to counseling because things are just not working the way they’re going now. Some clients come is wishing the world would change. I get that frustration. I live in this world too. However, the truth is that it’s much easier to change one person (you) than change 6 billion humans over which you have no control. Maybe all that is needed is a little tweak here or there. Maybe a major overhaul in thinking is needed. Either way, clients should be open to the expectation that some sort of change is in order.
Clients must be willing to do things differently. It is often said that people do not like change. I honestly do not understand why not. When things are not going as planned, the only thing we can do is change what we are doing. Change can drastically improve our lives. Change can give us so much pleasure and relieve us of pain.