Here are several questions of the most common questions that people ask about therapy.

How does therapy work?

Different therapists might answer this question in different ways, but my take on how individual therapy works is that it is the practice of learning to understand and accept yourself. In individual work, each session focuses on your experiences, thoughts and emotions and exploring these more deeply. Improving your understanding of yourself, then allows you to be more authentic in your everyday life, as well as clarify what you need and want in your life.

Couples therapy works in a similar way, only the focus is on the relationship, and better understanding yourself as well as your partner and learning together how to relate in a more authentic way. Creating emotional safety for each partner so you are each free to be yourselves in the relationship, then allows your couple to build the life together that you want.

How long will this take?

This is a very common question that people ask for different reasons, but the answer is always, “it depends”.  It depends on what kinds of problems you would like to work on, and it also depends on what kinds of things you do in between our meetings.  Usually I give my clients something to think more about on their own, or some new behavior to try in between sessions which can give us a lot to discuss in sessions and can also speed up the process of increasing self awareness that is so key to making progress in therapy.  The good news is that coming to therapy is completely your choice, and I make a point to check-in with my clients regularly about how they are feeling and if they feel they are progressing in our work together.

How will I know if therapy is helping me?

Generally, therapy is intervening in some aspect of your emotional life and/or how you relate to other people.  Because therapy “exposes” you, so to speak, to emotions that might be painful or difficult, sometimes people report that they actually feel worse for a bit after starting therapy.  However, if you can stick it out through this rough patch (which doesn’t happen for everyone) then the ways that you will know you are being helped is by your increased tolerance of these unavoidable emotions as well as an increased understanding of what triggers certain emotions for you.

Therapy will not get rid of negative emotions in your life.  Often my clients tell me things like, “I wish I could I stop feeling like this”; or “I wish {insert situation} didn’t bother me so much”.  Therapy will help you accept your emotions and reactions, and learn new ways to respond to them, and when you begin to see yourself doing this, you will know therapy is helping!  Again, I check in regularly with my clients on this, and encourage open communication about how you are feeling about our work and your progress.

Will my insurance cover this?

Insurance can be a complex and tricky issue for people.  If you want to use your insurance, I always recommend that my clients call their insurance companies and get detailed information about deductibles, modalities of psychotherapy covered (individual therapy is usually covered, but some policies don’t cover family therapy which would include couples therapy), and how many sessions they will cover per year.

Most insurance policies do cover psychotherapy, however, they each have their own policies and limitations on what they will cover.  It is important to educate yourself about your insurance coverage before starting psychotherapy.

Something I remind people of with insurance, is that in order for me to bill your insurance carrier, I have to submit a psychiatric diagnosis to them.  People who are uncomfortable with this, may choose to pay out of pocket to maintain their confidentiality.

What insurance policies do you accept?

The Family Institute is in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO.  If you have this plan, the Family Institute will bill BCBS directly for services.  If you have a different kind of insurance, you may be eligible for out-of-network benefits.  In these cases, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for services and I will provide you with a detailed invoice each month that you can submit to your insurance carrier to obtain reimbursement.

Do I need therapy? Is there something seriously wrong with me?

Probably the most common fear I hear from new clients is that of wondering if they are abnormal or “crazy”.  I think it is extremely unfortunate that we live in a culture that doesn’t speak openly about mental health issues (we are getting better, but have a long way to go!) which seems to be why many people when suffering from disturbances in their mood or when not feeling the ways they believe they are “supposed to feel” immediately begin to feel panic about their sanity.  My experience has taught me that there is a much broader range of what is normal for human beings than what we may believe, and if you are seeking psychotherapy then you are simply being proactive about dealing with how you are feeling!   I make a point to be open and honest with my clients about what their symptoms may mean, and collaborate to come up with a diagnosis when it is needed or desired.

How am I supposed to open up to a complete stranger?

Of course, you will get the most benefit from psychotherapy if you are being open and honest with me.  However, it may take some time to begin to feel comfortable doing this.  Psychotherapy can feel very odd at first, but usually once we get to know each other it gets easier to be more open.  I also do my best to provide a safe space for my clients so they can be as candid as possible.  One way I do this, is by being very open and honest myself!  It takes courage to begin the process of psychotherapy, but the good news is that we are in it together!
If you have questions or concerns not addressed here, please do not hesitate to contact me at nlively@family-institute.org.