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Eleanor Palma, Ph.D.
LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Common Questions

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different reasons for coming to psychotherapy.  People often seek therapy when the discomfort of depression and anxiety becomes overwhelming. Often, a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.) or a crisis (such as an accident or loss), will trigger or intensify these emotions. Through therapy, patients can learn ways of understanding their underlying emotions and belief systems, and assist in developing skills to get through a difficult period.

 

  

What is therapy like?

 

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual.  In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development.  Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

 

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process.  The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life.  Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions,   I may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, keeping a "mood" or a "thought" record, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.

 

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

 

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them.  Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers.  Some helpful questions you can ask them:

 

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician? 

 

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

 

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office.   Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”.  Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone else on your healthcare team (such as your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

 

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

 

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.