FAQ

Questions about Counseling

 

Is therapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. You may be experiencing a level of stress in your life that overwhelms your ability to cope with the situation. We often want to see ourselves as being able to handle all things without seeking outside assistance. Unexpected changes in one’s life can give rise to anxiety or depression. Sometimes therapy is used to assist with long-standing psychological problems so we don’t feel so alone. Other times it’s a gift for yourself to explore, better understand yourself and grow. Whatever the reasons, or circumstances of life, therapy is right for anyone who wants to take responsibility in changing their life for the better.

Please feel free to use one or more of our inventories to help you talk with a therapist about the issues that are currently coming up in your life.

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Do you offer crisis and/or mental health emergency services?

Transitions does not offer after-hours on-call services in case of an emergency. We ask clients to call 911, or a crisis/suicide hotline Santa Clara County408-279-3312, and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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I’m not sure I need therapy. How can therapy help me?

Individuals enter into therapy because they are experiencing a level of distress that is no longer tolerable. Initially in therapy, you and your therapist will work together to obtain relief from the intensity of this stress by getting symptom relief. Your therapist will provide you with support as well as teach you problem-solving skills and better coping strategies. The benefit you obtain from your time in therapy is based on how well you make use of what you learn and by putting it into practice. Once the intensity of the distress has passed and you begin to feel better, each individual is then faced with a choice: to either leave therapy or to enter into a deeper kind of work which involves a process of self-exploration leading to changes at a much deeper level than mere symptom relief. This type of therapeutic work is much slower in nature but ultimately much more rewarding because it supports you changing at a core level. The benefits of this type of long-term therapy are life changing and often lead to a much deeper connection with yourself and others.

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What is therapy like?

Therapy sessions typically occur on a weekly basis, but may also be scheduled for every other week depending on the frequency needed to achieve your goals. Each session is unique and can focus on your issues, your concerns, your worries and/or your goals. You take the lead and your therapist follows as you talk about your life. Your therapist will listen attentively, ask questions, provide feedback, teach you strategies and may encourage you to take certain actions outside of therapy to achieve your therapeutic goals. The process of therapy and its ultimate effectiveness is based on your willingness to take self-responsibility for your actions and to put into practice, outside of the therapy room, what you have learned. This requires your active participation both in and between sessions. Therapy can be hard work, but the personal rewards are without compare and your therapist is there to support your efforts in reaching your goals.

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Is therapy confidential? Is my therapist going to talk to others about me?

Be assured that your therapist is required by law to keep anything you discuss with him or her confidential and private unless you provide your therapist with written permission. There are certain conditions under which the law either allows for or requires that confidentiality be breached. Some of these conditions are noted below:

  1. If you threaten to harm yourself, your therapist may be obligated to seek hospitalization for you or to contact family members or others who can help keep you safe.
  2. If you disclose that a child, elderly person or dependent adult is being sexually or physically abused, your therapist is bound by law to report it.
  3. If you are a danger to yourself or others, than your therapist is bound by law to protect you and/or the other person. The other person would be warned and the police notified. This also includes a threat to another’s property.

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Do therapists prescribe medication? Why would I need both medication and therapy?

By law the only individuals who can prescribe medication are those with a medical degree or M.D.. Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Interns do not have a medical degree and therefore cannot prescribe medication. However, there are certain conditions, such as depression and anxiety, that respond very well to a combination of medication and therapy. When medication is used in conjunction with therapy, the medication helps relieve the intensity of depressive or anxious symptoms making it possible for you to do the necessary therapeutic work to address the root causes of your symptoms. Medication without therapy provides a “band-aid” on your symptoms, whereas medication used in combination with therapy is much more likely to result in sustainable long-term symptom management and/or relief.

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What if my spouse/partner refuses to come to couple’s therapy?

If your spouse/partner refuses to come to couples therapy, we highly encourage you to come to therapy on your own. Here’s why: Often couples develop long-standing habituated patterns that stifle and deaden the couple’s relationship. This deadening effect becomes status quo and couples can reach a place where they begin to despair if it will ever change. When one spouse/partner comes into therapy and begins the hard work of personal growth and change, he or she begins to change the status quo by no longer behaving the same way when the pattern emerges with his or her spouse/partner. As a result, the spouse/partner who is not in therapy begins to change as well in order to accommodate the change of the partner who is in therapy. Don’t be surprised, when your spouse/partner becomes more open to the idea of couples therapy as he or she experiences you changing and leading your partnership in the right direction.

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What if my child/teen refuses to come to therapy?

Many children or teens that have problems would rather clean their room, eat vegetables, go to the dentist (you name it) than go to therapy. Typically, children and teens know very little about therapy and what they do know leads them to believe that “somebody has to be crazy” to go to therapy. Ironically, children and teens may also have a romanticized view of therapy and view it as a source of status among their peers because they have their own therapist with whom they talk about their problems. Once started, they may want to dig in their heels and not come anymore because therapy involves talking about things about which they don’t want to talk. At Transitions, we want children and teens that have problems to get the help they need. If your child/teen is under 18 years old and you, as their parent, believe they need help, we encourage you to frame the therapy as an opportunity for them to work on their friend and family relationships. This removes the focus from them and directs it towards relationships as the problem. Often times, by shifting the focus off of them, they become more willing to come to sessions where their therapist can work to create a safe environment that encourages them to return.

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How do I get started?

The first step in getting started is the initial phone call or email where you make a request for counseling services.  When contacting Transitions by email, we recommend that you include your telephone number so one of our therapists can contact you for a phone consultation. All of our prospective clients have a phone consultation where we gather some basic information about your concerns and place you with the best therapist to meet your needs.

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What can I expect during the phone consultation?

Before you begin therapy, one of our therapists will conduct a free 10-20 minute phone consultation. During the phone consultation, you will be asked some basic questions to better understand your problems and goals. If at any point in the phone consultation either you or the therapists conducting the consultation decide that Transitions is not the right therapeutic fit for you, the therapist will provide you with other community referrals to better support you in meeting your goals.

Please feel free to use one or more of our inventories to help you talk with a therapist about the issues that are currently coming up in your life.

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How long does a session last and how long will I have to come?

A counseling session will typically be for 50 minutes and begin on the hour. Sometimes, 90-minute sessions are scheduled as part of the treatment plan due to the number of people in session and the goals of treatment.

The amount of time you spend in therapy depends on many factors, most important of which is your sense of meeting your therapeutic goals. If you’re coming to therapy to get symptom relief, you may find that you see improvement within a few sessions or months. If you’re coming to therapy for sustainable change and personal growth, the length of time needed for therapy to achieve these goals is much more difficult to define. You may also find that your initial goals of therapy are met, such as symptom relief, and decide to set new goals which require a longer stay in therapy to achieve. Either way, the benefits of coming to Transitions for counseling is your freedom to stay, grow and heal for however long it takes.

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When do you see clients and what are your hours?

Le and Nancy set their own schedule and hours. We have morning, afternoon, evening and some weekend appointments. During your phone consultation, the therapists will ask you about your availability.

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How often would my sessions be?

The typical frequency is weekly 50-minute sessions. Sometimes people benefit meeting less, or on occasion, more frequently. The frequency will be set in consultation with your therapist and its role in meeting your treatment goals.

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What if I have to cancel my session or change my appointment?

Le and Nancy have a 24-hour cancellation policy. This time is set aside for you by your counselor and is unlikely to be filled without giving your therapist enough time to fill the vacancy. Likewise, the same courtesy is requested of other clients so your therapist can provide you with an alternative time during the week if you are unable to make your regularly scheduled appointment. Typical policy is to charge the full fee for failures to show for your appointment altogether or missed appointments when cancelled less than 24 hours in advance.

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