Frequently Asked Questions
How do counselors / psychotherapists help people?
Counselors are experts in assessing problems that people have in life and in selecting therapy approaches that work for a particular person with a particular problem. Counselors use a strength-based approach so they will assess your strengths and the way these strengths can be used to support you. In addition, counselors focus on the cultural context of your issues and will take your culture and life experiences into account when collaboratively establishing a treatment plan.
What makes professional counselors unique?
With a professional counselor, you get a mental health specialist who focuses on you as a person, on the relationships you have, on wellness, and on preventing problems before they occur—in the life areas of work, family, and school—as well as someone who can diagnose and treat mental disorders. While counselors don’t prescribe medication, they often work hand-in-hand with physicians who do.
Why is it better to work with a counselor than to work things out on your own?
When you are too close to the struggle, you can’t see things clearly. You might be surprised how a counselor can ask the perfect questions to give you perspective and insight. Counselors are experts in helping people with personal issues and it is much easier to deal with these issues with a professional partner than to do it alone.
What should people look for in a counselor?
First, you need to search for someone that works with the topic you want to explore in therapy. Counselors typically have areas of expertise or interest so find the ones that match up with your needs. You can often find a counselor who is licensed or certified in their area of specialty. For example, if your child is having difficulties in school, talk to a certified “positive parenting” therapist. If you are seeking support with an eating disorder, find a certified eating disorder specialist. You can ask clinicians what training or experience they have in the area you want to work on in counseling. The other most important thing to look for in a counselor is “goodness of fit” because if you don’t “connect” with your counselor after 2-3 sessions, you will likely not benefit from the services.
Does it mean there’s something “wrong” with you if you see a counselor?
It is wise to ask for support when you need it. Tackling life’s challenges alone is ALWAYS harder. Counseling is a good resources whether you are just dealing with a small hiccup in life or a major mental health emergency. Counselors can help you become more confident in how to handle situations and issues—and they can help you to grow. Counselors may view people as needing guidance, being stuck, in need of new skills, or in need of growth, but we never see clients as having something “wrong” with them. We wish everyone could have counseling because it is a great opportunity to share your burdens and feel supported.
On average, how much time do people spend working with a counselor?
The minimum number of sessions is somewhere around six to eight. Some issues can be resolved in just a few session, some require meetings over a longer term. Most clients stay in counseling for about 6 months and then slowly taper off services but often come back for “booster” seasons when challenges emerge again. Counseling can also be seen as “maintenance” for well-being and many people are in ongoing counseling for years to get support and guidance throughout life. Sessions are typically 50 minutes in length.
Is it expensive to work with a counselor? Does insurance cover counseling?
Counseling is an investment in your well-being and at Discovery Counseling Austin we try to help you fit counseling into your budget. We also work with a few health Insurance plan “In-Network” and we can provide receipts for “out-of-network” insurance plans. We also accept Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds for services. If you need low-cost counseling, there are a number of agencies in Austin that provide these services and we can help you find them.
What kind of training do counselors have?
Licensed professional counselors, social workers and licensed marriage and family therapists have a graduate degree in counseling and typically have completed more than 3,000 hours of supervised experience to get their license. Dietitians have a specialized degree and a year of post-graduate training.
What are the different types of counselors and how do I know which type I need?
In the field of counseling and mental health treatment, we use many words to describe the trained professionals that provide therapy services. The terms “counselor”, “therapist”, “clinician” and “psychotherapist” are used interchangeably and mean pretty much the same thing. If you are seeking counseling, the type of counselor you need is based on your preference. Almost all types of providers offer “talk therapy” and if you need medication, you will need to see a Psychiatrist or Nurse Practitioner. At Discovery Counseling Austin we do not have providers who can prescribe medication.
Here are some definitions for you.
- Psychologist: PhD or PsyD & 6+ years education and training.
- Counselor, psychotherapist, therapist, etc.: LPC, LCDC, LMFT & 4+ years of education and training.
- Social Worker: LMSW, LCSW & 4+ years education and training.
- Psychiatrist: Medical doctor with 8+ years of specialized education and training in medical school. Prescribes medication in Texas.
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: Medical doctor with 6+ years of specialized education and training in medical school. Prescribes medication in Texas. (some limitations)