Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Counseling or Therapy?
Psychotherapy, also known as counseling, therapy, or talk therapy, helps people to improve their lives by exploring the way their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affecting their life and well-being. Choosing to enter a counseling or therapy relationship means that you will work one-on-one with a mental health provider who will help you to explore and overcome your current struggles, and to find a way to live a happier and more fulfilling life. Your therapist will work with you to set goals for therapy (and for your life) and she will help you to achieve those, sometimes by working to improve your communication in relationships, taking better care of yourself, talking about past painful experiences or losses, problem-solving, etc.
Common therapy goals include working through grief or a loss (a death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a life transition - even "good" life events such as getting married or having a child can be difficult and stressful), improving relationships, improving social support, or improving mood, anxiety, and sleep.
The positive effects of therapy have been studied over and over, and research shows that therapy can lead to many positive benefits including:
-Improvements in mood
-Reductions in anxiety
-Improvements in sleep
-Improvements in health outcomes (reduced impact of chronic pain or other health conditions on one's life)
-Improvements in relationships and communication
-Overall improved well-being and quality of life
At Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling, we hope to help you not only reduce your symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., but also to help you have stronger relationships, more pleasure, and overall sense of well-being in your life. By the time you finish your therapy experience, we hope that you will have developed new skills for facing challenging life situations so that you can better cope with whatever life throws your way.
What is a Psychologist? Is that different from a Counselor or Social Worker or Psychiatrist?
A psychologist is a mental health provider who has completed a doctoral level program in psychology, which is the study of human behavior and well-being. Academic studies usually last 5-7 years, including at least five years of clinical training, several years of research and statistics courses, an intensive research project called a dissertation, and a year-long full-time clinical training year before the degree of “Doctor of Philosophy” (PhD) or “Doctor of Psychology” (PsyD) is awarded.
A psychologist is different than a social worker or a counselor, both by the specialty and emphasis of academic studies and the length of time spent in training. A psychologist is a doctor who has training in both the clinical practice of therapy and in the science and research of human behavior. This means that psychologists have been trained to provide “evidence-based treatment” to their clients/patients, and that your psychologist will offer you choices regarding your treatment based on knowledge of the science of psychology. For example, for trauma, anxiety, and depression, some treatments have been shown to be more helpful than others, and your psychologist will share this science with you to help you choose the best approach for your needs. There are many great mental health professionals who are counselors or social workers, but their training and focus will be different.
Psychiatrists are also different than psychologists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (“MD” or “DO”) who specialize in mental health issues. Their primary role is to prescribe and manage medications and most psychiatrists have very little training in talk therapy. Psychologists, on the other hand, receive intensive training and supervision in conducting psychotherapy and are the only mental health providers who can conduct psychological testing.
Is Everything Confidential?
Yes, except in a few extreme circumstances. We understand that it can be difficult to ask for help with mental health problems, particularly in a small community. Confidentiality is very important to successful therapy, and in general everything that happens in therapy sessions (or even the fact that you inquired about mental health services) is confidential. There are a few exceptions to this, which your therapist will talk about with you during your first session. These include when you pose a risk of serious and imminent danger to yourself or someone else, child or elder abuse, or if records are legally subpoenaed by the court.
What Should I Expect When I Come to Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling?
Therapy involves talking about very private things, and we recognize that making the decision to begin therapy is a sign of your courage and desire to grow and overcome life's challenges. We believe strongly that therapy is an important step in improving your life and we are excited to begin this journey with you.
You can think of an initial visit as an opportunity to learn more about the therapy process and your therapist; there is no obligation to continue after that point, and your therapist will work with you to make sure that you feel comfortable with her and the expertise and approaches that she offers.
On your first visit at Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling, your therapist will ask you to complete paperwork about your personal, family, work, and mental health history. She will then spend about an hour talking with you about your current concerns, your history, and your hopes for your future. If you feel ready to continue working in therapy, you will work together to come up with a plan to help you feel better, including how often you will meet and what your goals are for therapy and for your life.
How Often Will I Come? How Do I Know When I’m Done With Therapy?
If you decide to continue with your counseling process, your therapist will work with you to come up with a personalized treatment plan. How often and how long you attend therapy can vary a lot; sometimes, people hit a bump in the road and just one or two visits with a psychologist is enough to help them get back on their path and feel better. Other times, especially after trauma or with chronic mental health problems, you might meet regularly for a year or several years.
You might work through one problem and be ready to take a break from therapy and then find yourself struggling with something else; just as you would with your family doctor, you can always come back for more support when you need it. We expect that within six to ten sessions you will begin to feel better and to see some of the positive effects from therapy. We will talk openly throughout the journey about your progress and your desires for therapy.
How Can I Make the Most of My Therapy Experience?
Therapy works a little differently than a visit to your doctor or dentist, where you typically rely on the medical provider to provide you with a diagnosis and tell you what to do to get better. In therapy, you won't be told what to do, but instead, you'll work closely with your psychologist to problem solve, feel emotions, work on relationships and communication, and make positive changes in your life. It will be an active collaboration, and research has shown that good outcomes result from you being an active, engaged participant in the entire therapy process.
What does this mean?
Help set goals for treatment. Work with your psychologist to come up with a timeline. Ask questions about your treatment plan. If you don’t think a session went well, share that feedback and have a dialogue so that the psychologist can respond and tailor your treatment more effectively. Ask your psychologist for suggestions about books or websites with useful information about your problems.
And because behavior change is difficult, practice is also key. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of thought and behavior, so stay mindful between sessions. Notice how you’re reacting to things and take what you learn in sessions with your psychologist and apply it to real-life situations. When you bring what you’ve learned between sessions back to your psychologist, that information can inform what happens in his or her office to further help you. Through regular practice, you’ll be able to maintain your progress after you’re done and apply these skills to other difficult situations in your life.
Keep in mind that as psychotherapy progresses, you may feel overwhelmed. You may feel more angry, sad or confused than you did at the beginning of the process. That doesn’t mean psychotherapy isn’t working. Instead, it can be a sign that your psychologist is pushing you to confront difficult truths or do the hard work of making changes. In such cases, these strong emotions are a sign of growth rather than evidence of a standstill. Remember, sometimes things may feel worse before they get better. Don't be afraid to talk about this with your therapist!
(Information from the American Psychological Association – you can find out more at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx)
What If I Have a Specific Approach I’m Interested In?
Dr. Welter has training in a variety of evidence-based treatments, including Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining (EMDR), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Elizabeth Watters has training in a variety of evidence-based treatments, including Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), Solution Focused Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), and Bowen Multigenerational Family Therapy.
If you have a specific approach you have benefited from in the past or are interested in, please let your therapist know. She will work with you to tailor your mental health treatment to meet your needs.
Insurance and Payment
Effective January 1, 2019, Prairie Home Wellness will only be accepting Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicare insurance plans for new clients. For all other insurance providers, expenses will be due at the time of service. If you have another insurance provider, we will be “out of network” and are happy to provide a detailed receipt of services so that you can seek some reimbursement, as some insurance companies will cover a portion of your costs to “out of network” providers. If your insurance will not cover your care and you are unable to pay out of pocket, we are happy to make referrals to other local mental health providers who accept other insurance plans.
All co-payments are due at the time of service.
If you must miss a scheduled appointment, please make every effort to cancel at least 48 hours in advance. Given the shortage of mental health service providers in the area and the importance of full engagement in your healthcare, missed appointments or those cancelled less than 48 hours ahead of your appointment time will be charged the full fee. Insurance will not cover these payments.