Frequently Asked Questions

The very first session will be an Evaluation. You will be evaluating your counselor while they are evaluating you. You will be considering if it might be a good fit and you want to come back. They will be trying to figure out what is going on and if they can help. They will ask you many questions, including what prompted you to call, then your counselor will present if/how they can help you. Afterwards, you will decide if you wish to go forward. If you do, our standard practice would be to complete an Assessment.

The next 2-3 meetings would be a more in-depth Assessment of the problem(s) and how they came to be. At the end, your counselor will present their findings and, together, you would develop goals along with a plan-of-action to move forward. The assessment would provide recommendations that might (but do not usually) include a full psychiatric, psychological or medical examination. At the end of the Assessment, both you and your counselor would have the opportunity to discuss/reframe/develop our findings into a plan-of-action, including how often you meet (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) from then on.

Certainly, this is our normal practice. If you come to us in a crisis, the flow may be different at first but we would eventually want to slow down and get back to the in-depth Assessment when things calm down.

It all begins with scheduling your first session. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all sessions are held through HIPAA-compliant teletherapy.

Click here to schedule your first session. Simply select “I’m a new client” then pick a counselor. Each counselor offers a free consultation and technology check to make sure your device is capable of working with teletherapy (most devices are!)

Our mission will be to improve how you feel and/or function in your world. To that end, we will start by identifying and building upon your strengths (which you may not fully appreciate right now) rather than focusing on a diagnosis. We look to incorporate an understanding of systemic pressures as well as the depth and range of your personal experience. The definition of a disorder is clear (dysfunction and/or dysphoria**) but with little meaning, to us,  when it is someone else’s perception of the problem framed as an individual’s issue (not systemic). At their best, diagnoses are a communication tool between professionals and necessary only for insurance/disability coding. It is pretty clear to us that everyone can be diagnosed with something if there is a good reason to do so.

If you do not want to use insurance or do not have insurance, we will not need to present a diagnosis. However, we will work from themes which may be akin to diagnoses. If you have insurance and will be using it as payment or seeking reimbursement, whether in-network or out-of-network, we will need to present a diagnosis to the insurance company. We will always be clear with you about your ongoing diagnosis (it can change) and hope you will help in defining it via the Assessment. If there is not a diagnosis that meets the criteria of your insurance (meaning, your counselor believes you are okay), we will tell you and we will not be able to go further with the insurance company paying. If you have a diagnosis already (e.g., bipolar disorder), then we will begin from that framework.

**Dysfunction: Client is not functioning properly in their system (e.g., can’t keep a job, consistent relationship issues, etc.) Dysphoria: Feels bad, depressed, confused, anxious or worried/afraid, etc.

Our counselors have been trained to provide many different types of therapy. While most have practical experience with this modality, we consider the CBT model to be helpful, but incomplete.

For most people, we believe problems are in systems, not individuals. That is, a person’s mental health (or dysfunction) represents interactions with the people around them, their system. Systems create and/or maintain positive or negative mental health within individuals. While we cannot always adjust our systems, we may be able to redefine, create boundaries or learn to accept their dynamics. The common therapeutic lenses of our counselors include applied-developmental, eco-systemic, structural, relational, insight-oriented, emotion-focused and client-centered.

First, all of our counselors have different relationships with insurance companies. If you have insurance but not one that our licensed counselors accept, call your insurance company and ask if you have “out-of-network benefits” for mental healthcare. If you do have out-of-network benefits, there will probably be a deductible and then they will reimburse a percentage after the deductible is met. (They will tell you, write it down.) Our receipts provide all of the necessary information (license & NPI #s, procedure codes, etc.) specifically intended for insurance companies.

For example, one of our clients has out-of-network benefits that include a $400 deductible. After the $400 is met, the insurance company reimburses 70%; that is, you must pay the first $400, then they pay you back 70% of what you spend for the rest of the contract year.

If you do not have insurance and are serious about finding help, we can work something out based on your financial situation. Be sure to talk about this with your counselor when you first make contact. 

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

We will do our best, but prepare yourself to do some work. While our counselor will meet with your child and seek to help them resolve their inner turmoil, increase motivation and/or aid in successfully navigating a healthy childhood/adolescence, we know we can only get so far without support from their system. We see systems. We believe problems are in systems and are expressed through individuals.

After getting to know your child, it will be highly likely that your counselor will be inviting you (and any other parents/care-givers) into individual sessions and/or family sessions. Sometimes we may bring in other counselors to help support members of the system, as they learn to work better together. We will review the tenets of eco-systemic structural family therapy and attachment-relational therapy. Be very clear: we are not behaviorists, although some behavioral constructs may serve as foundations to our discussions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. Learn more about EMDR here.

Connect Counseling is here to support you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with one of our team members to see how teletherapy can work for you. We're here for you during these troubling times.

Uncommon Local Counselors Online
Lancaster, PA - Carlisle, PA