Frequently Asked Questions
Psychotherapy can be a positive, life-changing experience. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about psychotherapy. Psychologists in the Genesee Valley Psychological Association abide by an ethical code set forth by the American Psychological Association which ensures that clients are treated fairly and respectfully.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ's) that people ask about psychologists and psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy is a process of learning to cope with emotional challenges and problems in living. There are many different forms of psychotherapy. Some types you may have heard of include cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis. You will need to discuss with your psychologist what type of therapy he or she uses in order to determine if that modality is right for you. Generally, psychotherapy involves sharing your concerns with the therapist and working collaboratively to change your feelings, your moods, your thoughts or your behavior.
Psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between you and the psychologist. As such, it is important to feel comfortable with your psychologist. Begin by selecting a psychologist who has experience with your particular problem and who is comfortable working with individuals in your age range. Speak with that psychologist on the phone and see if you make a personal connection. Ask the therapist any questions you may have about the process and his or her approach. When you meet with the psychologist, feel free to decide at that time whether you would like to continue therapy with that person. Be aware that most psychologists will charge a fee for the evaluation session.
Depending on what kind of insurance you have, it often pays a portion of the cost of psychotherapy. In January 2007, Timothy's Law went into effect, which provides mental health coverage at the same rate as other medical specialists. You will need to check with your insurance company to determine the extent of your benefits. In most cases, there is a minimal copay that you will need to pay directly to your psychologist.
Psychologists treat a range of challenges, from mild depression or difficulties adjusting to a new situation, to more severe disorders, like schizophrenia. Most psychologists emphasize specific disorders in their practice. Some prefer to work with children or adolescents; others work primarily with adults. Psychologists may also specialize in couples counseling or family therapy as well.
During their graduate education, psychologists learn about brain functioning and the effect of medication on mood and behavior. However, in New York State, by law, psychologists do not prescribe. Some psychologists have advanced training in medications for psychological challenges and all psychologists will collaborate with your prescribing physician or nurse practitioner to determine the most effective medication for you.
No. Although you may be on medication for your mood or behavioral concerns, it is often quite helpful to work with a psychologist to effect behavioral and attitude changes in addition to those brought about by the medication. Studies show that medication combined with psychotherapy is a more effective treatment than medication alone. Your psychologist may recommend that you consult a medical professional to begin a medication regimen or he or she may feel that your issues will be resolved more effectively without medication. Ultimately, the use of medication to treat your emotional issues is your decision.
Generally, your relationship and the content of your conversations with your psychotherapist are completely confidential. However, there are important exceptions. All mental health professionals in New York State are required to abide by a mandatory reporting law which compels psychologists to notify appropriate authorities if they suspect child or elder abuse. Also, if there an indication that the client is likely to harm self or others, then the psychologist is ethically required to take appropriate action to prevent harm from occurring. Occasionally, in certain situations, such as child custody evaluations, the psychologist will be required to produce a report for the court. In those cases, you should discuss the purpose of the report with the psychologist ahead of time.
Yes. Speak with your psychologist about your needs to include others in your therapy session. If your psychologist does not include couples counseling or family therapy in his or her practice, you will be able to get appropriate referrals.
Psychologists are individuals who have earned a doctorate academic degree, (usually a Ph.D., Ed. D., or Psy.D.) in clinical psychology. This means that they have spent several years in school after college to learn about current research in psychology, including psychopathology and various treatment modalities. Other types of mental health providers include psychiatrists, who have medical degrees, and counselors and social workers, who have master's degrees. Different educational backgrounds mean that the various types of therapists will approach your concerns differently from each other. As you talk with your therapist, you will determine which approach is right for you.