We’re glad you’re here. It isn’t always easy to reach out and talk to someone when something in your life isn’t working. But you’ve taken the first step, and maybe now you’re wondering what happens next. If you haven’t already, read over our therapist bios to get a feel for our different styles. And if you’re still unsure, or just want to confirm which of us seems like the best fit, give our office manager a call.
Your first session and beyond…
Your first therapy session is a chance for you to get to know your therapist and better determine whether he or she is a good fit for you. In that session, your therapist will also work with you to set goals for therapy and introduce some treatment approaches that could work with your particular presenting concern. You may have heard of approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), humanistic therapy, or mindfulness, for example. Your therapist will identify approaches that have been proven to work with concerns like yours, and the two of you can decide which one(s) to use. We not only want to match you with the therapist who meshes well with you, but also with the treatment modality that does. And if, after that first session, you don’t feel like you clicked with your therapist, please let us know. Much of the success of therapy depends on the strength of the therapeutic relationship, so it’s important that you feel that connection right away.
Though we at Brentwood Counseling Associates want to tailor our approach to therapy to each individual client, we all practice “talk therapy,” meaning that we use discussion to talk through clients’ presenting concerns. However, some of us may have different emphases during the course of those discussions, or differ in the ways we challenge you to “work on” your problems outside the therapy sessions. We do all expect that, in between therapy sessions, you will either think about or try things differently out in the real world, however. After all, that’s where the majority of your life takes place, and most importantly, where you want to see change happen.
How long will therapy take?
Many clients will ask how often they should come to therapy, and for how long. Both of these things will be determined by you and your therapist, and will usually depend on a number of factors. Most importantly, we want to ensure that any symptoms you may be experiencing (such as those related to depression or anxiety) are not interfering with your functioning. In cases where a client’s performance at work or school is suffering, for example, we may decide to meet more frequently. But most of the clients we see at Brentwood Counseling Associates come to therapy weekly or every other week. When deciding how often to meet, we also take into consideration that therapy is both a financial and a time commitment. Therapists and their clients together make the decision about when to end therapy, but it is usually based on improvement in the presenting concern.
Who else will know that I’m coming to therapy?
Federal and state confidentiality laws, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and our therapists’ professional ethics guidelines all prohibit the sharing of your information with anyone else, without your consent. In other words, what you talk about in therapy stays between you and your therapist. There are, however, a few exceptions in which we have to break confidentiality:
- A confession of a plan to harm self or another
- Disclosure of child or elder abuse
- Coordination of care in the case of an emergency
Additionally, there are times when it is beneficial to both the client and the therapist to consult with another provider. This most commonly occurs when a client is supplementing the work done in therapy with medication management of symptoms. In these cases, with the client’s permission, our therapists at BCA are happy to consult with a physician for coordination of care.
How Much Does Therapy Cost? What About Insurance?
At Brentwood Counseling Associates, our per-session fee ranges from $125-$160. We want to make therapy accessible, however, so should the cost be prohibitive, a reduced fee is sometimes available. You may discuss this with your therapist individually during the initial session.
Many clients ask whether they can use insurance to cover the cost of therapy. Some of our therapists accept some insurance, and others do not. Our office manager can provide you with this information. Keep in mind that if you have out of network mental health benefits, we are happy to provide you with the documents needed to file on your own for reimbursement of some of the cost of therapy. To learn more about this, please ask your insurance provider about coverage for therapy sessions with an out of network provider. If needed, our office manager will be happy to give you some guidance on obtaining this information.
The decision about whether you should use insurance to pay for therapy can be a bit more complicated. Certainly, therapy is a financial commitment, with the benefits of not paying out of pocket being obvious. However, some people still choose to forego their insurance coverage when working with a therapist because insurance companies do not provide coverage for “counseling.” Insurance claims must be filed as “psychotherapy,” and require a mental health diagnosis, which becomes part of the permanent record. Insurance companies then have the right to request and receive those records, and the diagnosis becomes a “pre-existing condition” on any future insurance applications. And where our younger clients are concerned, parents of children and adolescents often prefer that a mental health diagnosis not go on their child’s permanent record, and therefore choose to pay out of pocket.
What happens if I need medication?
None of our therapists at Brentwood Counseling Associates is medically trained, so we can not prescribe medication for management of any mental health symptoms. We do have an extensive list of medical providers to whom we refer when we feel that an evaluation for medication management is warranted. Please work with your therapist to make the decision about if, when, and to whom, you should be referred for medication management.