Is therapy right for me?

Counseling and psychotherapy services offer a variety of supports that can help you obtain life balance, find solutions, and achieve overall wellness. There are many reasons why people come to therapy that range from every day growth issues like job performance and stress management, or big life events like divorce, the death of a loved one, or traumatic experiences. You may want to seek counseling due to an unexpected life event. Or you may want the advice of a therapist as you pursue personal growth and exploration.

While working with a therapist, you will develop insight, gain support and learn new strategies for all types of life's challenges. Counseling can help address many issues including anxiety, couples and family conflict, depression, grief, body-image issues, child behavioral problems, and general life transitions.

Generally therapy is a good fit for those who are motivated to do the work in counseling that it takes to find balance and wellness. These individuals are willing to take responsibility and ownership over their lives to become more self-aware in order to create lasting change.

Do I really need therapy?

It takes great courage and self-awareness to recognize when an extra support is needed. Everyone can use some extra support at times in life and therapists are specifically trained and experienced in listening and guiding individuals and families through life transitions, events, concerns and problems. Sometimes it is helpful to get the insight of someone who is not directly involved in the situation, who has an impartial view in order to offer valuable support that is weighted in years of training and experience.

Feel like your problems are not that serious? That is OK. Many people come to therapy as a self-care tool. You can utilize therapy to carve out "me" time in order to personally explore different areas of your life.

How can therapy help?

Counseling provides long-lasting benefits and support. Coaching, psychotherapy and counseling services can increase your problem-solving skills, help you identify triggers, re-direct damaging life patterns, support you in overcoming obstacles, and enhance your coping strategies for issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and family conflict. Services like parent coaching, help you to gain specific, research backed strategies and skills.

Many find therapy to be an asset for managing issues, personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns and the hassles of every day life. Everyone can benefit from therapy; it can help you handle emotions from problems or life stressors, even if they are not life-altering or traumatic.

  • Develop specific strategies and skills
  • Find purpose
  • Stay accountable for your goals
  • Assist with dissecting a problem, and then help you solve it
  • Improve the quality of your relationships
  • Change problematic behavioral patterns and develop healthier patterns
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence
  • Move forward instead of feeling stuck
  • Provide you with scheduled time to focus on your own needs
  • Develop new and improved perspectives
  • Lower feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Teach you how to manage your anger
  • Learn how to regulate your emotions

What is a therapy session like?

Counseling can look different depending on the individual or family's needs and goals. It can be more directive and follow a protocol or less directive flowing into an overall process. During the initial session, the therapist will conduct an interview to understand your current issue or concern and then work with you to develop counseling goals. Sometimes people are seeking guidance for a specific and current life event. Others wish to explore early life events that are triggering current, problematic life patterns and interrupting relationships. Generally, clients attend counseling once a week and then gradually taper off to every other week, once a month and then every few months. Depending on your goals, counseling can be short term or long term. The options are quite flexible and can change depending on things like your schedule, finances and current life events. For therapy to be effective, you need to have a good relationship with your counselor and be an active participant both during and between sessions.

Can I use my insurance for therapy?

Often health insurance can be used to cover all or part of your counseling services. It is important to know that in order to use your insurance for counseling and psychotherapy there must be what the insurance companies call "medical necessity". In other words, the insurance company views counseling and therapy services in a similar way to any other medical service, like visiting the doctor. This means that you must meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis as established in the DSM or ICD manuals.

Due to the medical model used by insurance companies, it is not typical for your insurance plan to cover things like parent coaching or couples counseling. There are cases where this may be covered, but only when one "identified patient" qualifies for a mental health diagnosis. Please be wary of counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological services that do not disclose this information. If you are using your health insurance, a diagnosis has been made. It is our goal to make this as transparent and clear as possible. Again, it is very common for clients to use their insurance to reap the benefits of counseling and therapy services at a reduced personal cost.

You will need to check with your individual plan and insurance company to determine your particular coverage for counseling and therapy services. The best language to use for our services is "behavioral health" and "outpatient counseling or psychotherapy services". The amount you pay at the time of your session depends on your plan, required co-pays and deductibles. The insurance company may also have specific rules, session limits, and required treatment interventions and procedures that we will need to discuss.

Chicago Counseling and Rachael Miller are currently in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO insurance plans. If you have a different insurance plan, you can be provided with a "superbill" to submit to your insurance in order to receive "out of network" reimbursement from the insurance plan. This reimbursement rate will depend on your individual insurance provider and plan. Sometimes Chicago Counseling is able to submit the superbill on your behalf, meaning that you pay for the visit when you attend, we submit the necessary paperwork on your behalf, and once your insurance company has processed the claim, you will receive a check for the "out of network" percentage covered as determined by your plan.

What information about my involvement in therapy is given to my insurance company?

HIPPA has laid out the rules for how your mental health and medical records can be used. For more details about the information exchanged and your rights in protecting that information please go here. Generally speaking, the insurance company may request certain records, including case and session notes. The insurance companies basically hold the point of view that since they are paying for the services (or part of the services) they retain the right to make sure the counseling and psychotherapy services are "medically necessary" and that the diagnosis has been properly established. Each time your insurance company is billed for a session, they are sent the same information that your primary care physician or any other medical service would submit about their services. So each time your insurance company is billed for counseling and therapy sessions, they will receive a diagnosis code and procedural code. A procedural code is the identifier for what happened in session, for example, a "60 minute psychotherapy session". Sometimes your insurance company may request to see session notes in addition to the other information for the reasons mentioned above.

It is becoming more and more common place, and may eventually be the case with all insurance companies that they require "treatment update reports" about your progress in counseling. If you decide that you do not want such information released, then you will have to become a "fee for service" client and pay for your services out of pocket.

Is therapy confidential?

Counseling and psychotherapy services are confidential. This means that whatever is shared between you and your counselor will not be shared elsewhere. However, there are exceptions.

  • As discussed above, certain documents and information will be requested by your insurance company if insurance is used to help pay for services
  • If you have given written permission to share information
  • If you are involved, or become involved in a court case and you inform the court that you are involved in counseling and therapy services, your records may be subpoenaed
  • If the counselor believes that you are in danger of harming yourself
  • If the counselor believes that you are in danger of harming someone else
  • If the counselor has concerns about the abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult

For child and family services:

  • In general, children under the age of 18 will be required to have parental involvement. Information shared by the child to the counselor will only be shared with the parents when deemed therapeutically necessary by the counselor. The counselor will discuss this with the child before parents are informed whenever possible.
  • Illinois State law offers a few exceptions to this general rule. You can view these exceptions at this website.

Starting out counseling and therapy services for the first time can be intimidating, and we are here to help. Please contact us or call us at (312) 647-2308 for any questions or concerns.