FAQs About Our DC Counseling

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What should I expect to happen in our first session?

We have an informal and short assessment process in our DC counseling offices. Our counselors will be conducting an assessment with you sometimes on the phone before meeting, and that process continues into the first few sessions. Usually during the first session, your counselor will let you know about how he or she will be able to help and offer a basic overview of where to get started. We will ask you some questions but you can expect that we will do a lot of listening and clarifying.

How should I prepare for psychotherapy?

Sometimes it helps to have clear what you want the most help with and be ready to share details about that. Other times, part of the struggle is not knowing how to articulate what the problem is. Our counselors are trained to help clarify and will ask helpful questions to help you both distinguish what is most important to focus on. You can also ask yourself what things you want to ask your counselor that will help you relax and open up about the issue you want help with. Would it help to know what kinds of similar issues the counselor has addressed? Ask about that. Would you like to know what kind of outcomes sometimes come from talk therapy with your issue? Ask about that too.

What makes the biggest difference in achieving a positive outcome to counseling?

There is a lot of research that strongly suggests that it is clients who feel a strong connection to their therapist benefit the most. If you notice mixed feelings about your therapy sessions or feel uncertain about your therapist, try to put a finger on what that is. Our therapists welcome someone saying, “I don’t know what it is but I’m not sure about something that’s happening from our meetings. Can we talk about that?” Your therapist should be responsive and understanding of such feelings and may often have a hunch about something that could be adjusted to address your feelings. If not, we think it’s important for you to evaluate the fit you have with your therapist.

Will you tell me if you don’t think you can help me?

Some therapists err on the safe side of being cheerful and upbeat about the prognosis of emotional conditions even if it is beyond their training or expertise. Often when someone is close to developing a new capacity or ability to overcome a certain weakness, there can be an up-stirring of self-critical or hopeless thoughts. Our therapists are skilled at distinguishing between the need to advise you to get more specialized help and the critical skill of encouraging you to address self-protective fears.

What makes your counseling different from the dozens of other therapists I see on PsychologyToday.com?

All of us share the belief that talk therapy can be focused, effective, compassionate, and even a joy! It is a unique learning experience that many people in the world do not have the opportunity to afford. As such we take pride in keeping up with some of the latest innovations in research about how the brain works to conduct psychotherapy that has systematic elements. It should never feel mechanized, like some therapies that overload you with homework exercises, but should contain the right balance for you of challenge and benefit.