1. What is evidence based counseling?
Evidence based counseling, or research based counseling, refers to the use of clinical interventions in practice that have been investigated and determined to have significant effectiveness on specific measurable outcomes by researchers. I currently subscribe to multiple peer reviewed journals, including the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, and regularly review the latest research findings regarding clinical techniques. My approach using cognitive behavior therapy and motivational interviewing was shaped extensively by the existing body of research literature that indicates these approaches help achieve real results.
2. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (also known as CBT) emphasizes the role of thinking (cognition) in how we feel (emotions) and what we do (behavior). For example, if one thinks something like “I am worthless,” then this thought may contribute to feelings of shame or sadness. If on the other hand, one thinks “I am a lovable and kind person,” this leads to a different set of emotions, such as feelings of contentment and happiness. CBT helps individuals identify automatic and repetitive thoughts that contribute to emotional distress and negative behavior through the use of homework assignments to monitor, identify, and replace unhealthy thinking styles. After this, the challenge is to examine these thoughts for validity and replace the irrational thoughts with more realistic appraisals of self and others.
The other component of CBT looks at behavioral change. Changing what one thinks often leads to changes in behavior. Alternatively, changing behavior can also lead to greater well-being. For example, with depression, it’s common to experience a lack of motivation and decreased activity level. The internal thoughts/feelings (i.e., self-talk) associated with depression may tell one to stay home, sleep more, not participate in many activities, etc. This is a downward spiral where more inactivity then leads to greater depression. On the other hand, by choosing to increase activity level, regardless of how one feels, one will increase their exposure to potentially pleasurable experiences. More pleasurable experiences can help improve mood.
3. What is Motivational Interviewing?
Motivational Interviewing is a scientifically tested method of counseling that is directive, client-centered counseling style well-known for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence, or the sense of feeling ‘stuck’. It is defined as a facilitative style that uses respectful collaboration techniques to foster an internal ability to confront ourselves about motivational barriers. The core interventions used in motivational interviewing include supportive, empathic listening, exploring readiness to change, and addressing internal resistance to change. This method has been researched extensively and has been found to help people feel empowered to make the changes they desire in their lives.
4. How do you choose a therapist?
Research indicates that the quality of the relationship between therapist and client is one of the most important factors contributing to the effectiveness of therapy. Therefore, when choosing a therapist, it is important that you feel comfortable with their style and approach. You can learn about therapists by speaking to referral sources (friends, doctors, etc.), reviewing their websites and asking questions about their approach and background.
I offer prospective clients a free, 15 minute, phone or email consultation to learn more about their situation, answer questions and help determine if I’m a good match for their needs.
5. What is the difference between psychotherapy and coaching?
Psychotherapy is typically for those who need help with things like depression, anxiety, grief, low self-esteem, serious relationship difficulties and addiction. If emotional and behavioral issues are having a significant impact on your life in areas such as work, school, relationships, health, etc., then psychotherapy is probably most appropriate.
Psychotherapy is also for those who may or may not be experiencing one of the aforementioned difficulties, but are interested in doing more in-depth self-growth work, which includes looking at how the past impacts one’s present life.
Coaching is for those who are already functioning fairly well in their lives, but would like to accomplish more, such as:
- Maximizing performance at work (e.g., time management, efficiency, leadership skills)
- Developing more fulfilling relationships
- Increasing interpersonal skills (e.g., communication and assertiveness skills, emotional intelligence)
- Starting or growing a business
- Achieving an athletic goal (e.g., completing a marathon, achieving a ranking in your sport)
- Getting into better physical shape, losing weight
- Discovering one’s life purpose
Coaching sessions tend to focus more on the present and future and less on the past. Similar to psychotherapy, the coaching relationship is collaborative and supportive. Life coaching helps clients identify and achieve goals in core areas, such as career, relationships, health/wellness, spirituality and recreation.
In my practice, I sometimes integrate traditional therapeutic approaches and coaching-oriented tactics, depending on the needs and goals of the client.
6. What are your fees?
When not using insurance benefits, the service fee for an individual session is $125. Sessions are typically 45 minutes long unless other arrangements have been discussed ahead of time. We work with clients on a case by case basis to determine financial factors that can be considered for a reduced session fee.
We also offer prospective clients a free phone or email consultation to help determine if we can be of assistance.
7. Do you take insurance?
We are currently in network providers with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna Behavioral Health, MagnaCare, Health Republic, and Multiplan. We also participate with PPO health plans that offer benefits that directly pay the provider. We can help you learn what kind of mental health benefits your insurance offers and what would be involved with using your benefits. Often times, health plans offer ‘out of network’ benefits that reimburse the client directly all or a portion of our session fee. We can help by submitting these claims electronically on your behalf, and then the insurance company sends you a check directly. Clients who use out of network benefits are expected to pay for the cost of the services at the time of each session.
We are happy to contact your insurance provider if you would like assistance with determining your benefit coverage.
8. What are the pros and cons of using insurance?
Depending on your insurance, partial or full fee coverage may be provided for psychotherapy services. If you elect to use insurance, some information about the services, such as a mental health diagnosis, must be provided to the insurance company in order to receive payment.
Sessions are billable to insurance companies only if a client meets the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria for a “disorder” (examples of disorders include “Major Depression,” “Adjustment Disorder,” “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” or Substance-Related Disorders).
Some clients choose to not use their insurance, but instead pay the fees themselves for greater privacy and control over the course of their treatment. As a self-paying client, I can guarantee that your needs and interests come first, rather than having our work together influenced by the insurance company.
9. How long does therapy or coaching take?
This is a difficult question to answer because each person is unique, with different goals and objectives, as well as different life circumstances that impact outcomes. Some clients achieve their initial objectives and decide that they want to continue working on further growth and development. When working with a therapist or coach, it is important to clarify your goals and to check in with your provider periodically to see if you are moving in that direction.
10. Do you provide home visits?
I provide home visits to individuals who face significant transportation barriers, individuals who have difficulty ambulating independently, and parents with young children at home, at no additional cost with arrangements made in advance.
11. Do you offer phone sessions?
Psychotherapy and coaching sessions can be held via phone. However, most insurance companies do not reimburse for phone sessions. Some people find it easier to have sessions over the phone due to busy schedules or geographic location.
12. Do you offer group therapy?
We currently do not offer any active group therapy programs. Group therapy can be helpful for many issues. PsychologyToday.com andFindGroupTherapy.com are two resources for locating groups on Long Island.