Frequently Asked Questions
Who goes to therapy?
There are many myths and misconceptions that have been generated by our society with regards to mental health and in seeking help for mental health issues. These limiting beliefs lead to people thinking that therapy is solely for severely disturbed or “crazy people”. These beliefs couldn’t be further from the truth! While in some aspects therapy does serve those with severe mental health problems, it can also serve anyone who is struggling with everyday aspects of living. At times, all we need is a listening ear so that we can get distance from our thoughts and feelings, which can perpetuate our frustrations and fears. This support can be found in the form of friends and family, but when we "vent" to friends and family sometimes we feel embarrassed or guilty in letting them know how we truly feel or what we really think. As a result, we can fall into the traps of continuing to see things from only one perspective. In therapy, when in the presence of a trained professional, the person in treatment can be fully open, not worrying about playing any roles and just being present to the present moment and exploring potentially different ways of behaving, feeling and thinking.
Is therapy/counseling confidential?
Under the Florida law confidentiality is required, however there are exceptions which are, but not limited to:
Your signing of a waiver for release of your therapist of confidentiality. This is done when the patient(s) request the therapist speak to other healthcare/other professionals regarding their needs.
If there is a mandate by the court requesting records or testimony, which may be a part of a criminal or civil case.
If there is clear and immediate present danger displayed by the patient on the intent to harm himself/herself/themselves or others.
If there is suspected child abuse and/or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
We adhere to strict state and federal guidelines in maintaining your personal health information confidential (PHI), unless the above and non-mentioned exceptions apply, please refer to the downloadable forms tab under services and download the form titled: HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices for further information on how personal health information may be used and the limits of confidentiality in therapy.
Is there a time frame in therapy and how do sessions run? What can I expect in the process of therapy what does this look like?
When a patient(s) comes in with a concern the therapist will assess and evaluate their concerns and then determine together with the patient a course of action that may be beneficial to them regarding their specific needs. During the first session, there will be several information forms where the goal is for the patient(s) to clearly understand the process of therapy, their rights as patient(s) and how their personal health information may be used and what limits there are to the confidentiality of their therapeutic process. After the policies and procedures of those providing the services and their rights as patients are understood, the patient can then decide how to proceed, whether to accept treatment and consent to treatment services after being informed to the process and recommendations that the therapist may feel are necessary. Additional forms will be filled out to determine personal information and also any past issues that may be important in impeding growth and change in the present. Then, when the problems that are sought to be changed are pinpointed, a time frame for therapy will be suggested by the therapist and a foundation for the process towards change is established. No two people are the same, so the process is different for everyone. There are no guarantees that the desired results will be obtained once the process is undertaken. The therapist and patient(s) are to work collaboratively to ensure that the patient(s) is/are getting the care that is necessary. Sessions run 50 minutes and are usually held once a week. Some patients may want to come in twice a week to continue their work on their process, while others determine that once every other week is a better fit for them. Normally as the process comes to an end some may come back to therapy to air certain concerns and for further support.
So what are potential benefits and are there risks associated with psychotherapy?
Starting therapy is a very important step towards balanced mental health. It takes a lot of thought, planning and commitment to start the process.
For these reasons it is important to express potential benefits and risks exist that may be associated with therapy. Some benefits that can potentially result from therapy are: the reduction of unwanted feelings and behaviors, improved communication, improved relationships and a development of coping skills and self-awareness. However, there may be times that therapy can bring up unwanted feelings. It is not the aim to extinguish unwanted feelings, but to add to the tools in your toolbox to help you better deal with those feelings, thoughts and behaviors that may occur during times of distress. As emotional beings, we have the capacity to experience: happiness, elation, joy, love, sadness, anger, fear and frustration just to name a few.
The therapy setting, and process is a safe place intended for you to discuss what it is that causes you these feelings, thoughts and behaviors as you wish to discuss them. Know that you do not have to discuss things you do not want to, but know that the therapist may point out how certain thinking may be associated with concerns. Therapy is based on a therapeutic relationship that is grounded in respect for your process of self-understanding and self-discovery. It is up to you to decide whether the benefits mentioned are worth the risks at this time.
What can be expected in the therapeutic process as a general outline?
Therapy is really a two-way process. While it is the therapist's job to provide: skills, insight and tools for growth, it is the patient's job to use these tools outside of each session. If these skills and tools are not helpful, the therapist and patient(s) will work together to develop an alternate set of coping skills based on agreed upon and measurable goals. It is important to share any changes in your mental and physical health with your therapist during the process, as these changes can also affect the process.
The first two to four sessions are considered an assessment period, which is continuous in the therapy process. During this period of time, the therapist will work to understand what it is that brought you to therapy. It is not uncommon for the therapist to ask for feedback from time to time in order to address how they can better serve their patient's needs and to maintain awareness of the process as it is unfolding.
The assessment consists of gathering what is called psycho-social information meaning information on how you define what brings you into treatment and life history information will be gathered to appropriately proceed with treatment recommendations. The therapist wants to get to know who you are so that he can figure out how and if he can help. At the end of the assessment period, therapist and patient(s) will formulate treatment goals together, with appropriate strategies for working towards these goals. Discharge planning begins with the first appointment, which means that therapist and patient(s) are always working towards the long-term goal(s). Progress in therapy will be periodically evaluated in order to ensure the path towards treatment goals and to determine whether or not progress has been made. The length of treatment and the timing of the eventual termination of treatment depends on the specifics of the individual(s) treatment plan and the progress achieved by those in treatment. The therapist will discuss a plan for termination with the patient(s) as they approach the completion of their treatment goals and/or appropriate referrals will be made if it is determined by the therapist and patient shall the need arise. Patient(s) may discontinue therapy at any time.
What is Sexology?
In short, Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality. Sexology as a field sets to understand what people do sexaully and what they think and feel in regards to sexuality. It is also the foundation of the training that professionals receive to be informed on the vastness in the spectrum of the human as a sexual being. To approach something from the sexological perspective is to look at sexual issues from a nonjudgmental, permission-giving and pleasure-seeking/pleasure-enhancing perspective. The sexological perspective is to see sex as a natural part of life, to understand that different people do different things in the metaphorical “bedroom” and affirming that sex comes in all shapes, sizes and variations.
What can I expect in Sex Therapy?
As mentioned with general therapists, a qualified sex therapist may approach therapy in different ways, but there are generalizations that can be made when working with qualified sex therapists. The American Board of Sexology provides the following general expectations:
First of all, you can expect to be talking explicitly and in detail about sex. One cannot solve sexual problems by not talking about them. Neither can one gain new sexual information unless clear, direct instruction is given.
Second, you might expect to be offered the opportunity to add to your knowledge by reading selected books and/or viewing clinical films designed specifically for use in sex therapy. You should not, however, do anything which you do not understand, and you must reserve for yourself the right to question the purpose of an assignment. It is your right to decline or postpone acting on the specific suggestions of your therapist, rather than allowing yourself to be pushed into behavior which might actually increase your discomfort. Every assignment, task, or experience presented by the therapist should fit into an understandable and acceptable treatment plan and you have the right to question the procedures.
Third, you should expect sex therapists to be non-judgmental and to portray their own comfort in giving and receiving sexual information. While you might expect to be challenged and confronted on important issues as mentioned, you should also expect to experience a respectful attitude toward those values which you do not wish to change.
Fourth, unless your therapist is a licensed physician wishing to conduct a physical examination (which we at: The Center for Sexual Health and Family Counseling of Orlando, LLC are not) you should not expect to be asked to disrobe in the presence of your therapist. Sexual contact between patient and therapist is considered unethical/unlawful and is destructive to the therapeutic relationship. Neither should you expect to be required to perform sexually with your partner(s) in the presence of your therapist. Overt sexual activities will not occur in your therapist's presence, even though the talk, material and the assignments must, by the nature of the problem, be specifically sexual and at times bluntly explicit.
Finally, you should feel that you are heard and adequately represented in your sexual therapy. That is, you should not feel that you have been stereotyped as "female," as "gay," as "too old," or in any other way that interferes with your sense of unique identity within the therapeutic setting. You should feel that you are being treated as an individual(s), not as a category or a label.
Sex therapy is a new, dynamic approach to very real human problems. It is based on the assumptions that sex is good, that relationships should be meaningful, and that interpersonal intimacy is a desirable goal. Sex therapy is by its nature a very sensitive treatment modality and by necessity must include respect for the client's values. It must be: nonjudgmental and non-sexist, with recognition of the equal rights of man and woman to full expression and enjoyment of healthy sexual relationships. Source: (The American Board of Sexology).
What is Psychotherapy and what can I expect in the therapy process?
Who is a Psychotherapist?
A person who treats mental or emotional disorders by psychological means.