Getting Started in Counseling
Finding the right counselor for you
Something has happened in your life, either a single event or a series of events, that has caused you to look for help. Perhaps a friend or colleague or your doctor recommended a counselor to you or your insurance company gave you several names or you did your own research and found my website, and maybe you have several names to consider. Follow your instincts if you are calling several counselors: the first one you try may be just the counselor for you, or perhaps not. You can always try another if the first doesn’t fit for you.
Making an appointment
To schedule an appointment call Dr. Ann’s office at 407-265-6100
When you make your appointment, let Dr. Ann’s secretary know if you would like a reminder call prior to the first appointment. If you would like to be seen sooner than the next available appointment, tell the secretary that you want to be called if there is a cancellation. Give her parameters about your availability.
Dr. Ann is available for appointments Monday through Thursday, 8am to 9pm. She may be able to accommodate special needs so get in touch with any questions.
Prior to your appointment
Call your insurance company to find out:
- Do you need an authorization for counseling?
- Is Dr. Ann in your network?
- If not, what kind of payments do you make for out-of-network services?
- Is there a deductible? Has it been met?
- What is your mental health copay? Be sure to specify mental health. Copays often differ from regular or specialist office visits.
If you’d like, you can fill out the necessary paperwork prior to your appointment. Download the forms, print them out, and bring them to your first appointment. If you want to fill out paperwork at the office, simply allow 5-10 minutes prior to your appointment. Required paperwork: Intake form.
How to get the most from counseling
You decided to make a counseling appointment because you are ready for things to change. What you want to change, of course, varies: it may be you; it may be someone else; it may be a situation. Probably you have already tried some things to fix your problems, but they didn’t work well enough. Counseling is another tool. It is a good one, with many aspects, some simple, and some complex. Things sometimes change simply through the process of attending counseling sessions. Sometimes, work outside the counseling session greatly increases the benefit you receive. Here are some ideas that others have found helpful to maximize the results you obtain:
- Keep a list during the week of things you want to talk about in counseling. Remember to bring the list with you to your appointment.
- Keep your appointments. If you are juggling a busy schedule, consider that taking care of yourself first might be the best way to keep the rest of it under control. If you really don’t want to come, consider that this might be the most important time of all to keep the appointment, a wonderful opportunity to learn how you keep yourself from getting what you want. If you are angry with the counselor, consider what might be gained by confronting instead of avoiding. If you need to change an appointment, reschedule as soon as possible.
- Make a list of your goals for counseling. Periodically, evaluate your progress towards those goals. Your counselor can help you with that.
- Let the counselor know if you want homework. Not everyone does. If you ask for homework, do it. This may include books, movies, exercises, art, writing, etc.
- Journal. Make this an almost daily habit. Choose a length of time you can tolerate, 5-20min/day is good. Keep your journal hidden, if you are worried about someone reading it. Journaling is for you. You can share as little or as much of it as you want with your therapist.
- Ask to bring significant others to some of your counseling sessions. This can include spouses, partners, parents, children, and friends.
- Sign releases so your counselor can communicate with other professionals involved in your care.
- You don’t have to tell your therapist everything. Many things can be healed without revealing all the details of an issue. On the other hand, secrets begin to heal when they are revealed. Confidentiality provides you a safe place to do that.
- Be open to trying new things. The ways you already knew weren’t working well enough. Something new might work better.
- Consider whether you are open to hypnosis. Discuss your goals/concerns in this area with Dr. Ann. Hypnosis is a very powerful tool for change as well as being deeply relaxing.
- Let Dr. Ann know if you read. Many counseling books are now available in audio versions if you prefer to learn that way.
Good Luck. You have given yourself a gift. Enjoy.