Common Questions about Psychotherapy

Many people have questions regarding the nuts and bolts of psychotherapy. The following is a list of questions that often arise when seriously considering counseling. If you have further questions, I am happy to answer them for you. Contact me here.

Jackie Bay

Is therapy right for me?
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
What is a LPC?
What can I expect in my first appointment?
How long is a session?
How often will we meet?
Who will answer my phone call or e-mail?
How can I reach you in-between sessions?
What should I do in case of an emergency?
Are my sessions confidential?
What are my rights as a client?
What are my responsibilities as a client?
What is the nature of the relationship?
How long is psychotherapy?
How will I know I am getting better?
What if I know someone who would benefit from psychotherapy?
What is the difference between psychotherapy and counseling?
Tips on how to benefit from counseling.

Is therapy right for me? How can therapy help me?

Seeking therapy is not a statement of weakness. Everybody is faced with challenges at different points in life. There is nothing wrong with having extra support when you need it. In truth, the willingness to access help when needed is a demonstration of self-awareness and healthy functioning. It suggests that you are taking responsibility for your situation and taking action toward resolution.
People use therapy for many reasons. Some of the more frequent reasons include unexpected life transitions such as a death or a loss, family concerns, a divorce, a job change, relationship conflict, or stress management. Therapy may also deal with long-standing issues that are affecting daily living, relationships, or personal satisfaction. A person may seek therapy to address uncomfortable states of mind such as depression or anxiety or to change troublesome behaviors. Many seek the guidance of a therapist to pursue their own personal growth.
The benefit of therapy is that it can provide you with relief. Whatever it is that brings you to therapy, therapy can provide a fresh perspective, new ways to approach problem areas, improved skills, and a general sense of enhanced self-confidence and improved management of your life.
The success of therapy has a lot to do with chosing a therapist that matches your needs. Your ultimate success, however, depends on how well you use the therapy process and put into practice what you learn. Therapy is meant to be provocative and to challenge overused beliefs or patterns of behavior. Therefore, you may find yourself thinking about the session during the week, or practicing new skills learned in your session, or keeping track of particular patterns or states of mind in between sessions. To get the greatest benefit from therapy, you must be an active participant, both during and between sessions. Your efforts will pay off.
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Is medication a substitute for therapy?

Medication can be extremely helpful in managing particular states of mind such as depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors or obsessive or overactive thinking. Even with these states of mind relieved however, it is important to consider therapy to deal with the "fall out." Therapy explores the root causes, the impact, the life management skills, and the reality that medication is now a part of your life. While therapy is not always a substitute for medication, it is definately an advisable adjunct to medication. Therapy enhances the positive effects of the medication and provides longer lasting results when used concurrently. Speak to your doctor about medication and therapy.
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What is an LPC?

LPC is an acronym for a Licensed Professional Counselor. An LPC is a specialist in counseling psychology and holds a minimum of a Masters degree. Licensed Professional Counselors must complete a supervised internship and pass a state licensing exam. They have focused their education on the art and science of psychotherapy and counseling. A LPC holds a state license and practices adherence to professional ethics and guidelines.
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What can I expect in my first appointment?

Your first appointment will be an initial consultation lasting approximately 55 minutes. The initial appointment is a meeting to get to know each other, outline your needs and goals and determine the best course of action. At that time, the frequency of future sessions will be mutually discussed and agreed upon. We will address the business agreements of our relationship as well.
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How long is a session?

A standard session is typically 55 minutes in length. Having said that, everyone is different and we all move at a different pace. Therefore, over time we will evaluate whether or not 55 minutes is the most efficient amount of time for you. When something of a complicated nature is in the foreground and it is clear that more time is needed, a longer session can be arranged. Session fees will vary dependent on the length of the session.
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How often will we meet?

When a relationship is new and just beginning it is recommended that we meet a minimum of once a week. We will both be evaluating as we go along as to when it would be prudent to extend to every other week and then once a month. In some instances, it is recommended to meet twice a week. This recommendation is usually based on the type of goals you have and/or how much support is needed to realize change. Meeting frequency can be variable dependent on what is happening and whether or not you may need additional support during a period of unusual stress.
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Who will answer my phone call or e-mail message?

I will personally respond to all phone calls and e-mails. If you are a current client and your call is of an urgent nature, I will return your call or e-mail as soon as is reasonably possible and certainly within the business day.
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How can I reach you in-between sessions?

The quickest way to reach me is by phone. My confidential voicemail will take your message if I am with another client or otherwise unavailable. I generally check messages throughout the day, but may not be able to return your call immediately. I will return your phone call as quickly as possible. Sometimes this can be within a few minutes, but certainly within the day. I do not provide on-call crisis intervention, but I will respond to "urgent" situations as soon as is possible.
You may also reach me by e-mail. I am not able to respond to e-mail as quickly as I can by phone, but I will respond to your message within the business day. E-mail is available for brief communications or scheduling inquiries; however, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. E-mail is not to be used as a form of therapy. I usually read my e-mail on a daily basis during the business week. Phone or e-mail messages left after 12 noon on Friday will be returned the following Monday.
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What should I do in the event of an emergency?

I distinguish between an emergency (something that needs to be done right now to avoid possible injury or loss of life) and an urgent request. In the event of an emergency you should call 911. If you have an urgent need for consultation, then please call my main number 303-546-0792. At the beginning of the phone message indicate that you are calling with an "urgent matter" and describe the circumstances surrounding the urgent matter. I will return your call as soon as possible.
If the matter is extremely urgent and I am not immediately available or the urgent matter is after 8:00 p.m., call your County’s crisis line or go to the nearest emergency room. The number for Emergency Psychiatric Services/Suicide Prevention/Drug Abuse (24 hours) in Boulder is 303-447-1665 and in Denver is 303-853-3500. The telephone number for Boulder Community Hospital is 303-441-0400 press 1. They are staffed 24 hours a day with crisis counselors and on-call psychiatrists. Denver Health Medical Center Psychiatric Emergency Services is 303-602-7221. National Suicide Hotlines - 2 phone numbers are: 1-800-273-8255 and 1-800-784-2433. For more resources please click here.
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Are my sessions confidential?

The Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association as well as the laws of the State of Colorado insure the confidentiality of our communication. In general, nothing that we talk about will be revealed to anyone else without your specific permission. "Specific permission" requires you to sign a "release of information" form and specify what information you will allow to be shared. There are a few very specific circumstances in which your confidentiality cannot be protected by law.
Please see my "Privacy Policy" to understand the full extent of your privacy.
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What are my rights as a client?

As a client you have the right to:
  • have information about the methods of therapy and techniques I use
  • have information about my professional background
  • have information about the anticipated duration of therapy
  • be informed in the beginning of therapy of the fee structure and any changes to the fee structure
  • receive a second opinion from another therapist at any time
  • end therapy at any time
  • be informed about how to make a complaint
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What are my responsibilities as a client?

  • to come to your appointments at the agreed upon time and to be on time.
  • if you need to cancel an appointment, do so with respect to the therapist’s time.
  • to follow through on your financial agreements.
  • to be honest with your therapist and discuss concerns openly.
  • to be open to other perspectives and be willing to try a "new" or different approach.
  • to complete agreed upon assignments or tasks.
  • to let your therapist know if you are having problems within the counseling.
  • relationship and be willing to discuss solutions.
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What is the nature of the relationship?

The nature of a counseling or psychotherapy relationship is professional. Because personal information is shared by you and because the relationship can be safe and comfortable, the therapy relationship can sometimes be experienced like a friendship. It is important to remember that you are sharing information about you but the therapist is not sharing personal information about themselves as would occur in a friendship.
You are at a disadvantage if you are considering a friendship or a romantic relationship with your therapist, because the therapist knows more about what is personal and important to you and you don’t know what is personal to them.
Therapists are trained to recognize these vulnerabilities and to never take advantage of the imbalance of information shared. Therefore, it is never appropriate for a therapist to engage in a sexually intimate or "friendship" relationship with a client.
If after a specified period of relationship disengagement and after there is no payment rendered for psychotherapy services, the two parties may decide to pursue a different type of relationship. Even then, it is advisable to have very frank discussions regarding the pros and cons of this type of action and how to move forward with emotional safety and respect for both parties.
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How long is psychotherapy and when does it end?

I have known some people and/or situations to come to resolution in one or two sessions. More often, however, you can expect to attend a minimum of six to eight sessions. Of course, the length of psychotherapy will always depend on you. It depends on your pace, your goals, your readiness for change. If your goal is to change some long-standing patterns, you may need many months.
Therapy comes to a close for various reasons. Most commonly the therapy ends because the original goals have been met or the problem resolved and further therapy is not necessary. Often when addressing long-standing problems the therapy can progress in "episodes" of focused work together. Even though a person may not have come to full resolution on a particular issue, either party may start to notice a natural resistance or disinterest. This would be a time to recognize and discuss what is going on and to agree to take a break if that’s what is indicated. Breaks from therapy are not uncommon and, frankly, often necessary in order to practice and integrate what has been done in a particular "episode" of therapy.
In any event, deciding when and how to end therapy is an important part of the process itself. It is important for either party to raise the topic and have a discussion about what has been accomplished, what needs further attention at some future point in time (if anything), and how to close the relationship gracefully and respectfully.

The relationship between a psychotherapist and a client is a very personal and individualized partnership. I want to know what you find helpful and what, if anything, you don’t find helpful. Periodically we will check in with each other to make sure we are heading in the right direction and meeting your original goals. I find that clients often intuitively know what kind of help they want. Through mutual discussion and exploration we will find what works best for you.

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How will I know I am getting better?

During the first session we will establish your goals for therapy. Progress is then measured in relation to your goals. Periodically, we will ask each other whether or not either of us believe you are making progress. It is important that we both weigh in on that question, in that you are the expert in knowing how you feel and measuring what is right for you. I specialize in knowing how a psychotherapy or change process works. I can offer markers or feedback based on an overview of the overall picture of what one might expect at different points in the psychotherapy process. Exploring progress is always an important conversation to have. Generally, this particular conversation lends itself to new awarenesses and creative outcomes.
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What if I know someone who would benefit from psychotherapy?

I would be glad to discuss this question with a friend or family member and to provide care for your loved one. I am also happy to make an appropriate referral. If you are a current client of mine, I am happy to hear what your friend or family member needs and make referrals appropriate to their needs. Referrals from people or professionals who know me are a special privilege to receive.
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What is the difference between psychotherapy and counseling?

Many people ask what the difference is between counseling and psychotherapy. The difference is subtle and often more implied than real. The implied difference is that counseling is focused toward effective, short-term problem-solving. It is thought that psychotherapy is a longer time commitment that is geared toward gaining self-knowledge and changing long-standing patterns. The line between counseling and psychotherapy is a thin. It is more usual than not that the two happen concurrently.
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Tips on how to benefit from counseling.

Come to your sessions prepared with what you want to address. This can be as easy as picking up where you left off in the last session or addressing what has bothered you over the previous week. The therapist will also come prepared. In this way, you will most likely move your therapy along at a good pace and the therapy will have the feel of a partnership. Taking an active role in your own growth will make the therapy process much more rewarding.