Frequently Asked Questions

How Can Counseling or Psychotherapy Help?

Counseling or psychotherapy provides a safe place to talk with a person who is an expert in people and relationships. By talking with a trustworthy professional, you can get new understanding into unhealthy life patterns, find better ways to cope with stresses, and learn to change your feelings, thinking, and behavior. We can also list some common mental health problems for which counseling and psychotherapy have been proven to be effective and helpful. These include:

  • Anxiety, Panic, and Stress Disorders
  • Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Mood Disorders
  • Abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Marriage and Relationship problems
  • Family problems and behavior problems of children and adolescents
  • Drug and Alcohol problems and other problems with addictive or impulsive behaviors
  • Personality Disorders
  • Impulsivity and Anger problems
  • Problems of self-esteem and difficulty making life decisions

What is the difference between psychotherapy and counseling?

We use these words interchangeably since we blend counseling and psychotherapy techniques in our work, and we often use the word “therapy” to refer to them both. Counseling generally refers to giving advice or guidance, teaching skills (for example: relaxation training or social skills), and helping people change their behavior to have better results in life. Psychotherapy more often refers to helping people change how they think and feel about themselves and about other people and situations, These internal changes then lead to changes in behavior. Your therapist will use a combination of counseling and therapy techniques, selected according to your individual needs and goals.

How long will therapy take? How will I know if therapy is working?

The length of therapy will vary depending on the nature of your problem and the frequency, intensity, and duration of your symptoms. Successful therapy can be done in a few sessions or may take a year or longer. Research on psychotherapy shows that change begins early in the treatment process. In fact, the majority of people in therapy tend to experience relief within the first eight psychotherapy sessions. You may not be finished with your therapy in that time frame, but you should expect to see improvement in your symptoms and your outlook. If you are not sensing that you are making progress by the eighth session, you should discuss this with your therapist and consider finding another therapist or therapeutic approach, since research also shows that increased “dosage” of a therapy that is not working early on does not lead to an improved outcome. Happily, most of the time, clients will sense that they are on the right track and feeling somewhat better early in the therapy, giving them further hope and determination to pursue their goals.

What if I think I need to be evaluated for medication, or I am already prescribed medications?

We are not medical doctors and do not prescribe medications. We often consult with physicians who prescribe medications to our clients, and we can work with your doctor to integrate your therapy with your medication treatment. We can also refer you to physicians who can evaluate you for psychiatric medications and can advise you about whether you might benefit from medication.

What are your fees? Do you take health insurance?

Our usual fee is $130 for a 45-minute therapy appointment. We participate with many, but not all, health insurance plans. If we participate with your health insurance, your insurance plan is likely to cover a portion of the fee. Some of the larger insurance plans we currently participate with include:

  • Adventist Healthcare
  • Aetna
  • Anthem/Wellpoint
  • APWU Health Plan
  • Beacon Health Options
  • Carefirst – Blue Cross Blue Shield ( including: Federal BCBS, Carefirst PPO, and Blue Choice HMO plans)
  • Cigna
  • GEHA
  • Johns Hopkins Health Plan – EHR Network
  • Medicare
  • United Health Care- Optum Health Care – MD-IPA

Please note that not all of our therapists participate in every health insurance plan listed, and that we participate with other health plans besides the ones that are listed above. For insurance plans we do not participate with, we qualify as “out-of-network providers” , if your plan includes out-of-network coverage. When you contact our office, we can discuss our fees and insurance coverage in more detail.

How do I get started?

If you would like general information or if you are unsure about which therapist is the best match for you, you can contact us by phone (301-428-3557) or email. One of us will get back to you promptly and help you decide on a next step. During the initial phone call (or email exchange), we will ask you to tell us briefly about the concerns that are leading you to look into therapy. We want to make sure that we are a good fit for what you need. During this conversation, we will also be able to discuss availability, fees, office location, and any other questions you have. If you already have a sense of which therapist you would like to talk with, you are welcome to contact that therapist directly, either through our main phone line (301-428-3557) or at their email address (listed on the therapist’s page on this website). After you make the first appointment with a therapist, our billing specialist will contact you to get your insurance information if you will be using health insurance. we will find out what your benefits are and what your share of the cost will be. The billing specialist will also arrange to email or fax to you our registration paperwork, for you to fill out and bring to the first appointment.

How do I prepare for my first session?

In the first session we will want to learn about what is bringing you to therapy at this time in your life and about your hopes and goals for the therapy. We will also be asking many other questions to get an overall picture of who you are and some history of your problems and concerns. It is likely that there is much you will want to say, and your therapist will be listening carefully. It’s best to come with the intention to be as open and honest about yourself as you can be. At the same time that your therapist is learning about you, you will be finding out how it feels to talk with the therapist. You will likely be asking yourself questions like: Do I feel safe in the room with this person? Does he or she seem to understand what I’m talking about and have useful things to say or good questions to ask? Does this person seem like they will be able to help me? By the end of the first session you and your therapist will each have a sense of each other and will have talked some about the possibility of working together. Research shows that the success of therapy is determined more by the quality of the relationship, than the theoretical orientation of the therapist. If you and the therapist decide to work together, then you will schedule a next appointment.