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The future depends onwhat you do in the present
African American Couple

Common Questions

 

Is counseling right for me?
Do I really need counseling?  I can usually handle my problems.
How can counseling help me?
What is counseling like?
Is medication a substitute for counseling? Do you offer medication?
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?  Do you offer reduced rates?
Is this confidential?



Is counseling right for me? 

Seeking out counseling is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to counseling. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression.

Other times it is in response to finding themselves harmfully involved with alcohol and other drugs.  Many people seek advice and guidance as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a clincian can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Counseling can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief and stress management, as well as alcohol and substance abuse. Counseling is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their life.

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

It is pretty much a given fact of life that 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, counseling 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 help. Counseling 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.

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How can counseling help me? 

A number of benefits are available from participating in the counseling process. Clincians can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, and alcohol and substance abuse issues.  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. Our clinicians can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from counseling depends 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

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What is counseling like? 

Every counseling experience is unique and should cater to each individual and their specific goals in terms of what they would like to get out of being involved in counseling. It should be routine for clincians to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during sessions.  It is quite common to schedule weekly sessions (where each session lasts around fifty minutes) or to be involved in group. Counseling 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 sessions, such as reading a relevant book, keeping records to track certain behaviors or attending self-help meetings. It is an important part of the process to take what what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For counseling to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking help 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 coming to First Step:

  • 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

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Is medication a substitute for counseling? Do you offer medication? 

In some cases a combination of medication and counseling is the right course of action. Working either with our staff psychiatrist or with your own 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, we will help you  address the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb your progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

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Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?  Do you offer reduced rates? 

To determine if you have mental health or substance abuse 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 / substance abuse treatment benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per 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?
Additionally, if you are in need of substance abuse treatment services, have no insurance and you live in Baltimore County, we are able to offer a sliding fee scale which can greatly reduce the cost of sessions.  We will require proof of Baltimore County residency as well as proof of whatever income you may have so that we can determine your fee.

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Is this confidential? 

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

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
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