Therapy FAQs

Who attends therapy and why?

We believe therapy can be beneficial to anyone seeking to improve their personal or professional lives. Therapy is a great opportunity to better understand ourselves and the ways in which we relate to others and to events in our lives. This process can lead to richer, more satisfying experiences and relationships, as well as a deeper sense of calm, intention, and direction in our day-to-day lives.

Others attend therapy to seek support for managing symptoms related to a diagnosed mental illness—depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc. Therapy can be extremely helpful in building coping strategies for symptom management, as well as understanding the function symptoms play in our daily lives and relationships.

Therapy can also be life saving for anyone who has experienced traumatic events or relationships. Be it physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, or catastrophe, traumatic events have a way of reshaping our worldview and our capacity to feel safe, regulated, and capable of making effective decisions. A compassionate psychotherapist can help you rebuild a sense of trust in yourself and in the world, as well as a sense of mastery over the experiences that haunt you.

If I go to therapy, does that mean I have a mental illness?

It’s important to talk with your therapist about their diagnostic impressions. Whether they believe you have a diagnosable mental illness or are struggling to adjust to current events or circumstances in your life, together you’ll decide how best to move forward with treatment.

Unfortunately for many people, medical insurance has become a popular way to finance psychotherapy. In order to use your health insurance benefits, it is required that services be “medically necessary,” which means a clinical diagnosis must be provided.

How long does therapy take?

It is really up to you and your therapist! Therapy can last from a few sessions to several years, and we encourage you to talk with your therapist from the beginning about how you will know when you are ready to leave therapy.

Everyone’s treatment is different. How long therapy lasts depends on many factors. You may have complicated issues or a relatively straightforward problem that you want to address. Some therapy treatment types are short term, while others may be longer. Practically, you might also be limited by your insurance coverage.

However, discussing the length of therapy is important to bring up with your therapist at the beginning. This will give you an idea of starting goals to work towards and what you want to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to revisit this issue at any time as therapy progresses, as goals often are modified or changed during treatment.

Click here for a helpful article on termination, the process of deciding when and how to end therapy.

 How much does therapy cost?

Therapy is an investment of your time and money. It’s important to understand up front how much therapy will cost you week-to-week, and how your therapist will collect fees. You’ll find some therapists only work for their full fee up front, while others will collaborate with you on finding the most cost effective way to maintain treatment. This should be an explicit conversation, and one that you should feel free to return to if it ends up feeling unmanageable.

At ALLIANCE, each Affiliate sets their own fees, but you can expect fees in the range of $110-$150 depending on the service provided. Your contribution toward the fee will be determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Insurance coverage
  • Network affiliation of your chosen therapist
  • Financial means

 How does therapy work?

There are many theories out there, but recent advancements in neuroscience tell us a few things. First, our brains and our personalities are shaped by our earliest relationships and what those relationships teach us, implicitly and explicitly, about emotional regulation. Second, new relationships can repair and reshape neural pathways such that we can develop more effective ways of learning from and managing our emotional responses to the world and those around us.

Therapy offers you a unique kind of relationship. It creates an unparalleled opportunity for learning more about how you think, feel, and relate to your world, as well as a mechanism to actually reshape the way your brain and body respond to the challenges of everyday life.

While our work is tailored to your specific needs and interests, this article offers tips that can be helpful in orienting  yourself to the psychotherapy process.

Which is better, therapy or medication?

Research has demonstrated that the most effective way to manage mental illness is through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medication can address biological factors and reduce symptoms so that individuals can more effectively engage with the process of psychotherapy—which in this case often focuses on the role and function that our symptoms play in our daily lives and relationships. Psychotherapy can help you build the confidence and tools you need to cope with symptoms, establish boundaries with friends and family that encourage growth and healing, and set goals for the kind of life you want to live.

 What do I need to know to use my insurance benefits most effectively?
Figuring out your insurance coverage can be a difficult process! We are here to help. It is recommended that you confirm eligibility and benefits with your insurance provider prior to your first appointment. You can usually find a phone number for customer service on the back of your insurance card. Follow the prompts or inform a representative that you want to check your mental health benefits, and ask the following questions:

  • What are my in-network and/or out of network benefits for “psychotherapy in an office setting?”
  • Check if you have coverage for individual, marital/couple, family, or group therapy as needed.
  • What is my deductible? (the amount you pay each calendar year before your insurance company begins covering services)
  • What is my copay? (a set dollar amount you are responsible for paying for each session. You may be responsible for first paying your deductible.)
  • What is my co-insurance? (The percentage you pay when your health plan pays less than 100% for a service. Your health plan will not pay toward services with a coinsurance until you have paid your deductible.)
  • Are there any required preauthorizations for behavioral health treatment?

Bringing this information to your first therapy session will help you and your therapist establish the clearest plan for financing therapy, one that feels fair and sustainable for both you and your therapist.

How do I find the right therapist for me?

There is art and science involved in finding a therapist, kind of like finding a good romantic partner. The best way to create a short list is to ask friends, family, colleagues, or care providers if they have any recommendations. There are also many resources available online, including individual websites and searchable databases like PsychologyToday, which allow you to generate a list of therapists that meet certain criteria.

We encourage you to reach out to a couple of therapists in order to decide who feels like the best fit. You can do this by phone, or you can set up appointments to determine how it would feel to work with certain people. Ask yourself: Can I see myself opening up to this person? Do they appear professional, authentic, and straightforward? Can they explain their approach to therapy in ways I can understand? Does this person’s practice fit my budget and my schedule?

Just remember, even a therapist with a great reputation may rub you the wrong way. A strong alliance between therapist and client is the single best predictor of treatment success, so take the time to find a therapist you can trust, one with whom you feel understood, comfortable, and secure.

How do I set up an appointment?

Please visit our contact page to call or email any of our Affiliates directly. You can expect a response within 24 hours. Anticipate a short conversation to ascertain your needs and establish a basic understanding of how the therapist works. If cost, schedule, and fit seem to be a go, you’ll set up a time to meet for the initial appointment. If the therapist doesn’t have an opening or doesn’t feel he or she can best meet your needs, you will be provided with an appropriate referral.

What can I expect at the initial appointment?

At your first appointment, we will focus on what brings you to therapy and what you hope to achieve. Finding out more about your life–who is in it, how you spend your time, how you are feeling day-to-day, will help you and your therapist start to think about your concerns in context.

Please bring a photo ID, a form of payment, and your insurance card (if you plan to use insurance) to the first appointment.

What if I’m not comfortable with my therapist or with how the therapy is working?

Establishing a trusting relationship is the cornerstone of effective therapy, so talk openly with your therapist about what works for you and what does not, especially if you’ve had experience with therapy in the past.

It’s also possible that a therapist’s way of working doesn’t align with your expectations or needs. Your therapist should be able to describe their method of working and the ways in which it can help with your presenting problem or concern. If the explanation doesn’t make sense to you, or you feel strongly that you need a different kind of help, let them know.

Keep in mind that for many of us, change is really hard, and talking about private and personal things isn’t easy. It may be that you are feeling anxious about opening up to ANYONE, let alone this particular therapist. Try to settle into the process and see if you grow more comfortable over time.

Remember, it’s always possible you simply aren’t a great fit. If you don’t feel you’re getting your needs met, ask for a referral to another therapist.