Questions We Hear

How do I find a good counselor?

A licensed therapist holds a state license.  This could be a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Psychologist and, in some states, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  When a therapist has a state license it means they have completed an education program approved by the state, completed a clinical internship approved by the state and passed a licensing exam administered by the state. It also means the therapist completes continuing education every year in order to keep their license. The board that oversees licensing of therapists insures a standard and provides an avenue for investigation of complaints. This is protection for the public.

You can find therapists in the phone book and on the internet.  Some of the headings for listings are Counselors, Psychologists, Family Counselors, Marriage Counselors, Psychotherapists, Child and Adolescent Therapists or Counselors.  When you call around it is your right to ask if the therapist holds a state license. We encourage people to speak with the therapist on the phone directly so they can get a feel for whether or not they might like working with that person.

What does it cost?

There is usually a base rate. (Ask when you call.)  If you use insurance you are still responsible for the deductible and co-pay charges, just like when you go to a doctor.  Insurance policies are complicated and your counselor can help you understand the benefit outline. Also, many therapists take credit and debit cards so there are many ways to pay.  Combinations work, too.

At our practice in Bigfork, we accept all insurance and EAP payment sources. For those without insurance, or those whose insurance is limited, we have sliding scale and individualized payment options, which we discuss at the first session. Our office policy is to accept all clients regardless of payment sources or limitations.

How would I know if therapy might help me?

If you have a problem you would like to see improved or eliminated, you have tried several things with little or no permanent success, and this problem has been bothering you for several months you might benefit from the help of a skilled counselor. If life without your problem sounds better than good it means you are ready for a change. Maybe your physician has suggested therapy. Or a family member. Talking to a counselor on the phone and asking how therapy might help will give you more information to work with.

What if I start counseling and find I don’t like the therapist?

Find another therapist.

Can I read my file?

Talk it over with your therapist.  Legally you have the right.

Can a therapist prescribe medication?

Medical Doctors prescribe medication.  The exception is in New Mexico where a Psychologist can prescribe once they have completed rigerous classroom and clinically supervised training and they must work under the supervision of a Medical Doctor.

Some clients who use medication can use their family physician.  Others benefit from the expertise of a Psychiatrist.  However, it is the therapist who sees clients most regularly and clients will want their therapist and doctor to co-monitor medication effects.

Is it OK to go to a therapist that I already have known in the community or should I look for someone I have never met?

It all depends on what you and the therapist are comfortable with. Some people would never consider working with a therapist they have known socially. Others prefer working with someone they know. Before beginning therapy with an acquaintance, a responsible therapist will explore the topic with the client. Ethics dictates that therapists avoid dual relationships, so if both agree to work therapeutically together, the other relationship will need to take a back seat. In small communities people will probably know their therapist and will run into them in public at times. Responsible therapists give their clients space publicly and don’t initiate interactions that might embarrass a client.

What could therapy for a little child possibly have to offer?

When the client is a young child the parent is also a client.  Therapists want to get to know the child so they can offer insight to the parent.  Child therapists use play therapy and art, as well as observation. Working with young children means teaching parents to do thing differently to help their child outside the office.  It also means assessing for the need to refer the child to other services if indicated. The benefit of individual work with the child can be significant.

If my child has ADHD will the counselor make me use medication?

No.  Skilled therapists don’t advise or insist.  They help parents make decisions that get good results.

Other questions? Contact us!