Some counselors offer a free first session. This allows you to “shop around” and be selective. Become familiar with the counselor’s website and make a list of questions to ask during your initial email or telephone contact and first meeting.
You can think about mental health counseling as a personal journey with a beginning, a middle, and an end. You might not know where the journey will lead, what you might discover or encounter, or what you will learn. A good psychotherapist will accompany you during your journey, offering nonjudgmental caring, support, and guidance, and teaching new skills.
My method integrates humanistic psychology, family systems, and practical creativity.
Humanistic psychology also studies creativity. Enhanced facility with creativity can contribute to successful life transitions and positive changes in everyday life. The creative process can be used to define problems, reflect on issues, incubate ideas, and implement solutions. Creativity is used by individuals who make positive changes in relationships, gain skills in parenting, succeed at school or work, contribute to innovation in business, or respond productively to crisis - such as successful adjustment to divorce.
In general, with my clients, the psychotherapeutic process goes like this…
First, we will meet for a 50 minute free session during which you'll share information about issues that bring you to therapy. I'll ask questions about these issues to gain more understanding about your situation. I will explain what approaches would be the best for your issues. Then, we can decide whether to continue working together.
Some of our work together will involve looking at how your family of origin (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) and other significant past relationships contributed to your issues. We might explore major life events and traumas that could be having a lasting impact on you. Initially, your descriptions of family and events might be more intellectual. We would work towards gaining recognition of emotions that were involved and how your self concept was formed, integrating thinking and feeling. At the same time, you would learn skills to become more effective at coping with issues and events in your daily life.
Creativity is involved in that we will rewrite your life story so that the past does not rigidly determine and limit your present and your future. You will form a clear vision of how you want your life to be and make a plan on how to accomplish that, taking gradual steps to accomplish your goals.
Sometimes I recommend clients undertake certain kinds of "body work" that might include yoga, meditation, walking daily, massage, Chinese healing touch, or engagement in sports. The body/mind/spirit connection is powerful and body work can support, strengthen, and hasten your healing.
Again, this depends on the individual. Sometimes body work feels too similar to previous traumas and is not advisable until much later.
Sometimes I integrate care with your personal physician. I also sometimes recommend clients consult a naturopathic doctor as certain food allergies/sensitivities can strongly influence behavior, emotions, and sleep patterns.
Your care will be individualized for you because you are unique.
Generally, before clients conclude psychotherapy, we meet once to review the issues you came with and articulate what you've accomplished, how you've changed, and what your new goals are. The skills you learn in psychotherapy can be applied to challenges you encounter in the future. In a way, you will carry your own healer within you wherever you go - so that you will continue to heal and grow!
Your first free session will be 50 minutes. Usually, the 2nd appointment (the intake appointment) is 80 minutes long. Some clients prefer all appointments be 80 minutes long as longer appointments allow clients more time to bring up issues, explore issues more fully, experience and process painful emotions that might arise, find resolution, make action plans, and feel "finished." This is your decision and this decision will empower you.
Billing insurance requires a diagnosis that will remain part of your permanent record. Some clients want to protect their privacy by not billing insurance. Sometimes clients do want the financial advantages of billing insurance. This will be your decision. Generally, if I do bill insurance, I give a "mild" diagnosis that is related to some transitory situation so that the client is not identified as severely or chronically mentally ill. These are important issues to consider and discuss with your psychotherapist.
The location of your psychotherapist's office can also affect confidentiality. Unfortunately, there is still social stigma attached to seeking mental health services - even though this is a sign of strength. If you want to avoid people knowing you are engaged in mental health counseling - and you do not want to meet people you might know in a psychotherapist's waiting room or parking lot, then select a counselor that has different entrances and exits for clients, no waiting room, and a parking lot that is shared with a variety of businesses. My private practice office has this kind of confidential location.
I hope all of this information is not too overwhelming. You can use the information I provided about my practice to formulate questions to ask counselors that you interview. As you select a psychotherapist and begin working together, keep asking questions about the process. If you express your needs clearly, you are more likely to get your needs met. If you understand the mental health counseling process, you can participate more fully.
If you have further questions or desire additional information, please feel free to contact me.
Take good care of yourself.
Kind regards, Dr. Benyshek