How do I know when counseling would be helpful to me?

Any time you are experiencing difficulties in your marriage or family relationships which distract you from having the kind of satisfying relationship you want, you can benefit from Christian counseling.

Commonly given reasons for relationship counseling are:

• frequent problems with communication in the relationship

• inability to resolve problems

• disagreements between married partners on how to raise children

• blended family situations

• frequent arguments around issues of power and control

• extra-marital affairs

• pornography

• sexual difficulties

• change in the family life cycle (newly married, birth of first child, having teenagers, children leaving home, retirement, etc.)

• spouse abuse and other anger problems

• addictions

Common individual complaints are:

• feeling depressed and tired all the time

• feeling anxious and fearful

• unresolved issues relating to previous abusive relationships

• overcoming trauma (sexual abuse, rape, military combat, serious accidents, life threatening episodes, etc.)

• addictions

• complicated grief

• thoughts of suicide

• difficulties at work

• adjusting to significant changes (recent move, change in job situation, change in marital status, etc.)

I’m a pastor. How do I know when it is appropriate for me to refer someone?

Though the work of pastor may include a measure of counseling there is a significant difference between the counseling successfully done by a pastor and the counseling done by a professionally trained therapist. Most pastors are adequately trained to conduct short term, close-ended crisis counseling. However, pastors are not, generally, trained to do long term, change oriented therapy. Furthermore, the short term crisis counseling conducted by a pastor and the more long term clinical treatment done by a therapist is very different in terms of the contractual and ethical definition of the relationships between the pastor/parishioner and the therapist/client.

Many pastors report, with some regrets, that when they redefined the “pastor/parishioner” relationship already established with a church member by moving into a “therapist/client” relationship they lost these people as parishioners. For this reason most pastors are wise to, as a rule, limit their “counseling” to no more than three sessions or occurrences. If more help is needed for the person to achieve their desired goals, then a referral to a Christian counselor would be appropriate.

As a pastor, any time you encounter the following information or symptoms in a parishioner seeking help you are encouraged to consider referral to a licensed Christian therapist:

• previous abuse suffered as a child (physical, sexual, chronic emotional)

• addiction(s) either in the current marriage or family of origin

• abuse in the current marriage between spouses or parent and child

• blended family issues

• complaints about problems with moods (depression, anxiety, etc.)

• long term marital complaints

• erratic behaviors or speech

• sexual perpetration by a church member

• extra-marital affairs

• eating disorders

• parent/child problems

As a pastor you are invited to contact Amy at any time for a brief phone consult on this subject.

If I come to counseling how much will I have to pay?

Contact Light Counseling at (434) 384-1594 to discuss payment options. Light Counseling has a standard fee for all outpatient therapy and accepts all forms of payment. In addition, services are covered by most insurance plans. Visit www.lightcounseling.net for more information.

How long will I need to be in counseling?

The best answer to give to this question is, “It depends.” The duration of therapy all depends on many converging idiosyncratic issues such as the diagnosis, the history of the problem, the personality of the client, the collaborative relationship between the client and the therapist, the current barriers to health, the amount of homework given and completed, the treatment protocol used, the nature and degree of social support around the client, the level of skills already possessed by the client, and the client’s financial ability, just to name a few.

At the outset of your therapy, goals for treatment will be established. Therapy is concluded when your goals have been achieved or when you no longer desire to pursue therapy. Please keep in mind that therapy is a collaborative effort between client and therapist. Both have to work together to make for a successful and desired outcome.

I’m concerned about someone I love and think that they need counseling. How can I get them to see someone?

It is not uncommon that the person who has a serious problem fails to recognize how much pain and suffering they are causing for themselves and others by their problem. Many caring family members and others may want a troubled person to receive counseling long before the troubled are ready to admit they need help. This can be very worrisome and frustrating for the loved ones of the troubled person.

The best you can do for your troubled loved one is to point out to them what you see and provide them with information on counseling. Inform them of the seriousness of what you see. If their behavior is damaging to you or others in the family, you may want to inform them that there will be unpleasant consequences for them so long as they choose not to get help. A period of separation until they seek counseling may be appropriate. Don’t enable their problematic behavior by making the continuation of such behavior easy for them.

However, the person with the problem must make the appointment. Don’t try to make an appointment for another adult without their consent. This will, most assuredly, result in failure. Of course, if the person you are concerned about is a minor under your authority you can make an appointment without their consent. In the meantime, while you are struggling with the fallout of your loved one’s problem, perhaps you could benefit from some sessions with a counselor.

What things do I need to know to choose a qualified counselor that’s right for me?

First of all ask yourself how important it is for you that your counselor be a Christian. If this is a high value for you, you will want to ask for a counselor who intentionally follows Biblical principles in their counseling. You should be able to contact any counselor on the phone to ask them, personally, about this. In addition, you should also expect any counselor to gladly answer the following questions:

• “Are you licensed to practice therapy in your state?” (Desired answer is “Yes”)

• What is your highest level of training?” (Highest degree achieved should be either a Masters or Doctors degree)

• From what school did you get your highest degree in counseling?”

• What are your areas of specialty?”

• Is your training in marriage and family, or in individual psychotherapy, or both?” (If your problem is of a marital or family nature you should seek the help of a trained marriage and family therapist)

• How often do you see people with this problem?” (Then give the nature of your problem for which you are seeking help)

• Do you consult with other therapists on your cases?” (The desired answer is “Yes”)

Ultimately, you may not know if you have the therapist that’s right for you until you go for two or three sessions. If you have doubts at that point you are encouraged to bring up your concerns with your therapist. If your therapist refuses to respond to your concerns adequately, it is time to change therapist.

Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:

  • 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?

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

Confidentiality & Privacy Policy

Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.
  • If a court judge were to request information and client records, I would be required to comply (must be a formal court order)

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