Eddie Theokas, M.Ed, LPC, NCC, ACS
Mindfulness Based Psychotherapist specializing in Trauma, Anxiety & Stress
***Please note that I will have limited daytime openings in January. Please book a consultation call, send me an email if you would like to schedule a consultation call or sign up to be added to my newsletter for updates on any openings.
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So what should you do in the meantime?
Keep looking and be patient. Due to the pandemic and the destigmatization of mental health, many people are looking for therapy and counseling so waitlists are full. Consider opening up your search to Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Life Coaches and other Licensed Professional Counselor types. While you may have a preference, it may help to broaden your horizon to find the right person for YOU. Consider out of network providers. While you may limit your search to someone in your network, the right fit may be outside the list you find in your directory. There are many ways to afford therapy with someone is outside of your network provider
What is the difference between a therapist, a counselor, an LCSW, a Psychologist a Psychiatrist and a Life Coach?
These terms are often interchanged and it can be confusing to be able to differentiate who the best person is for you. Before I attempt to clarify, let me just tell you that most of this does not matter! Study after study has shown that it is the relationship that you develop with the clinician that is the number one most important determinant of client progress. The relationship matters most over any of the initials after your name. So please do not get hung up on the fact that it has to be an LCSW over a PhD. over PsyD. over an LPC. If you like the person, and get a feel a connection to them, that comes above all else. Now, clarity is important if there are extenuating circumstances, like insurance will only pay for an LCSW. In saying that, credentials are determined mainly by the theoretical focus of the degree. This is not black and white and there is overlap in the teachings, but there is greater emphasis on some areas vs. others. So lets' break it down.
A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor. They have the ability to prescribe you medication for mood disorders. You need a diagnosis and often you may need to work with a primary care doctor to manage the effects of medication on your physical well-being. A Psychiatrist often does a once a month check in to see how the medication is working. They often do not typically address life issues.
A Psychologist (PhD.) focuses on research. Their focus is on understanding the statistics and conducting research to support or challenge behavior, theories, etc. PhD's often teach at colleges and graduate schools, with the emphasis being on helping students foster a clinical mind.
a Psychologist (PsyD.) focuses their attention on research in practical everyday settings (i.e. community agencies, etc.) A PsyD's focuses in less in the laboratory and more in the real world.
An LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor. The focus of their studies is on the individual. Recognizing a person's inner world and how their inner world impacts their functioning with the people, places and things around them. The greater focus is on the individual and helping the individual heal. (P.S. this is the license that I currently hold).
An LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The focus for an LCSW is on the individual and the world around them. The focus is on recognizing that a person is made up of their environment around them and looks at those factors which may be impacting a person.
The difference between a therapist and counselor is the focus during therapy. A therapist typically looks into current and past issues. A therapist wants to identify the influences of a person's family history to help them understand where current issues may stem from. Therapy engages you longer term because it understands that longstanding patterns need time to change. Think back to the days of Freud when a person went to therapy for years and years and years often 5 days a week and talked about their mother, analyzed their dreams (a total oversimplification FYI). A counselor typically focuses on current issues, and looks very little into the past or family history. This focus is not necessarily interested in looking to the past, but rather looking at the problem facing you now and helping you to solve it so that you can move on and get better. This may mean being in therapy a few short sessions (6-12) and you're only addressing one or two issues currently affecting you.
A life coach is someone who typically helps you set goals and work towards achieving this goal through action steps. While a life coach may recognize that there are mental health issues, this not their focus. It is primarily focused on getting you to your goals. With coaching, there is no diagnosing or seeing the person as having a problem. Instead it is focused on helping a "healthy person" get to the next level. Coaching is not reimbursed by insurance, because it does not follow the medical model wherein something is wrong with you that needs to be fixed. P.S. a life coach may also be all of the above but has engaged in separate training in order to offer you a different skill set than the skill set used in therapy.
Are you seeing clients in person or only virtually/online?
At this time, I am only seeing clients virtually. I have found that clients have enjoyed the online experience, as it allows them flexibility in their schedule. Many of the tools used during in person sessions have transferred well to the telehealth space.
How long does therapy take?
Each person's journey to health is individual and dependent on the issues they want to work on. Because change is a process that requires time to be integrated, I often recommend that a person make a commitment of weekly sessions for a minimum of 4-6 months. Learning to trust someone and learning to trust yourself takes time. We check in on a monthly basis to make sure that we are working towards the goals you've identified. Frequent check ins allow us to course correct and explore the progress that has been made as well as explore the challenges to making progress. On average, clients have worked with me for 12 months.
Why weekly sessions? That seems like a lot
Weekly sessions are recommended it because it allows for the most progress to be made most quickly and effectively. By meeting weekly, the therapeutic relationship can be established, and you can feel supported and encouraged as you dig into deep and personal issues. Weekly sessions create structure, and accountability, helping you build on the momentum you have to make changes in your life. Weekly sessions also allow us to tweak what is working (and what isn't) so that you can get to your goals faster. As clients begin to adapt and heal, sessions are reduced to every other week for about 2 months before being discharged.
Are sessions covered by my insurance?
This depends on your insurance plan and the type of service that you are seeking. At this time, I am an out-of-network provider with many PPO insurance plans. This means you would pay me for sessions directly on the day of service. Then, I can provide you with a receipt for services (called a “superbill”) that you may submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
There is an app, Reimbursify, that I recommend to clients with PPO insurance plans to assist them with filing claims, for a small fee per claim. I am more than happy to discuss this solution with you during our consultation call. I would also recommend that you call your provider to ensure that you are eligible to receive coverage for mental health services.
If I want to use my insurance to ask about coverage, what questions should I ask when I call?
If you want to use your insurance, please call your insurance company to verify your benefits before we begin working together. I want you to feel comfortable with the financial aspect of your counseling. Here are some useful questions to ask.
What is the name of my plan? Is it an HMO or PPO?
Does my plan include out-of-network mental health benefits?
Is pre-approval required before obtaining out-of-network services in order to be reimbursed?
Are services rendered by a Licensed Professional Counselor covered?
If I submit a claim, will I be reimbursed the full amount I paid or a portion?
What is my deductible? How much of my deductible have I met this year
What will our first few counseling sessions be like?
Before we begin therapy, I will electronically send you my practice paperwork, which includes information about session lengths, informed consent, policies and cancellation policy information. The packet also includes a questionnaire which I ask you to fill out so that I can have a baseline of where you are currently in your life. I also ask clients to have some sort of journal or book to document their progress and goals. You can purchase a journal such as this one or this one I have developed, or you can just use a plain notebook, devoted for your sessions.
I use the first few sessions to conduct a thorough exploration and assessment of your day to day functioning, your relationship history and future goals. I will ask a lot of questions about your concerns, your life and family/social history, and your strengths and resources. I’m the kind of therapist that believes everything is connected. We'll also complete a genogram (a fancy word for family tree) so that I can get an understanding of about where you come from and who has influenced your life. Together we will help us create a roadmap for the course of treatment so that you can focus on the changes you want to see happen.
On your end, you can continue to ask me any questions that you may have about the therapeutic process. And if you don’t feel like answering some of my questions, that's ok. I want these sessions to help you create a sense of trust with me and the process. The focus is on balance between helping me as the therapist learn more about you and your struggles while also allowing you to begin to feel comfortable and respected, and ultimately share openly.
How do I know that therapy is working? My life looks the same
When I start working with a client, I ask them to describe what a day in the life in the future looks like for them when they have found healing. The life they describe is often the same, but what is different is that they are no longer feeling anxious, or they are feeling healthier. Therapy can be magical but it is not a magic bullet. Change is often subtle and without a huge slap in the face that tells you that change happened. Therapy is working when you're sleeping at night. When the things that used to upset you, no longer upset you. Therapy is working when you've taken a step that you have been afraid to take for the longest time. We also do lots of pre and post activities to measure your progress in the beginning and throughout the course of treatment. In cases where EMDR has been conducted, clients report a shift in their feelings about past issues within weeks. Therapy is working when you see a situation from a new point of view and don't react. Therapy is working when you stop allowing past events to haunt you on a daily basis. The success of therapy looks different for everyone, but ultimately, regular check ins with the therapist to compare where you have from to where you are now can help you see just how far you have come and where you still need to go.
I'm interested. Now what?
Contact me and let's schedule a consultation. I typically schedule consultation calls on Fridays, so let's connect and see if I can help.
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