Following a thorough evaluation, including a review of the patient's own treatment goals, a course of counseling may be initiated. The range of psychotherapy services available through Hawthorn Counseling Group includes:
Hawthorn Counseling Group clinicians have a preference for utilizing treatment strategies which have received empirical support of their effectiveness. Examples of such interventions include cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy of depression, as well as other focused, brief treatment approaches. We believe that patients are entitled to receive care which is not only individualized—tailored to their specific treatment needs and goals—but which has been scientifically validated as an effective and efficient form of intervention.
I've never been in psychotherapy before. What kinds of problems usually bring someone into counseling?
While the specific circumstances prompting someone to seek psychotherapy are wide and varied, the general issues tend to involve mood (e.g., problems with depression), anxiety, workplace stress, troubles adjusting to a change in one's life or relationship difficulties. Other common issues include parenting struggles, grief/bereavement, difficulties coping with physical health changes, medical problems or alcohol/substance abuse. Many people have found counseling to be helpful in facing difficulties such as these, developing a deeper understanding of the source of the difficulties and improved strategies to move on in one's life in a healthier way.
I notice that the name of the practice is Hawthorn Counseling Group. But there are many references on this website to “psychotherapy”. Is there a difference between “psychotherapy” and “counseling”?
We use these terms interchangeably—for our purposes, they may be considered to be synonymous.
There seem to be so many different kinds of professionals who practice psychotherapy: counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists. Which one is right for me?
Yes, in the State of Illinois , there are several professions which may be considered to be licensed providers of psychotherapy. The differences among these licensed mental health professionals relate to the type of training the provider received to achieve licensure. While there are certainly differences between these disciplines with respect to training and professional capabilities, there are no data to suggest that any of the various mental health professions are better than any other with respect to practicing psychotherapy. The clinician who is “right” for you would be a trained mental health professional, licensed to practice psychotherapy, experienced in working with presenting problems similar your own. The “right” psychotherapist will be someone with whom you feel a comfortable collaboration, who can articulate a clear understanding of the nature and origin of your presenting problems along with a logical treatment plan towards goals that are important and achievable.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (e.g., an M.D. or D.O.) who is licensed to practice medicine and has completed a residency in psychiatry. Many psychiatrists, but not all, are also board-certified in neurology/psychiatry or perhaps another sub-specialty area such as child/adolescent psychiatry. Psychiatrists are trained to identify syndromes and symptoms which are known to respond to medicine and they are frequently consulted when medication is being considered or if an interplay between medical and psychiatric/psychological conditions is suspected. In the State of Illinois , the doctoral degree, either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. (or sometimes the Ed.D.) is the minimum level of training required for licensure as a psychologist. Psychologist training usually consists of four or more years of graduate school after an undergraduate degree and often includes particular emphasis upon human development, human behavior, psychological assessment, research design, mental illness, and its treatment. Psychologists often have had intensive training in individual, family/marital and group psychotherapy. Psychologists are not licensed to prescribe medicine but may work closely with a consulting psychiatrist in providing care to patients. Research has shown that many problems such as depression and anxiety often respond best to a combined approach to treatment which includes both medicine and psychotherapy. It is common, then, that a patient sees a psychologist for psychotherapy, perhaps on a weekly basis, while also receiving care from a psychiatrist or other physician, who sees the patient less frequently to monitor response to medication.
Once you start psychotherapy, how long does it usually last? It seems like some people are in therapy for a very long time—does it always last for a long time?
The duration of an episode of psychotherapy is jointly determined by the patient and therapist. Studies show that the majority of people who receive psychotherapy achieve significant improvement. This is true regardless of whether the psychotherapy is of relatively brief or longer duration, although those who were in treatment for at least six months report the greatest improvement. On average, a course of psychotherapy lasts approximately 12 sessions, but the duration of any particular course of counseling depends entirely upon the presenting problems, goals of the treatment, presence of ongoing stressors and overall rate of improvement. Usually sessions are initially scheduled on a weekly basis, perhaps tapering to biweekly or less frequently as the patient experiences treatment gains. For more information as well as the source of these data, please see the links page.
How long are psychotherapy sessions?
Psychotherapy sessions are typically 45-50 minutes long. The initial appointment sometimes runs a bit longer—perhaps an hour—to attend to patient registration and treatment planning matters.
Will my insurance cover psychotherapy?
Most health insurance plans provide some sort of mental health benefits but they vary widely with respect to the extent of the coverage, whether pre-authorization is necessary and how the benefits are managed. You can determine the nature of your mental health benefits by checking the backside of your health insurance card for a customer service number where you may call for additional information. All patients who anticipate using their health insurance to offset the costs of counseling are encouraged to first contact their insurance company to learn about the nature of their mental health benefits.
Is what I discuss confidential?
The confidentiality of mental health treatment is protected by both state and federal law. Illinois has a very clear and comprehensive set of rules which are designed to safeguard the privacy of consumers of mental health care. Your therapist can provide a full explanation of confidentiality. In general, anything you share with your therapist is confidential and may not be released by your therapist without your written consent. The patient has the privilege of deciding whether to permit the therapist to disclose information to outside parties. Your therapist cannot even acknowledge that you are receiving mental health care without your permission. You should be aware, however, that there are certain rare exceptions in which a licensed mental health practitioner may breach confidentiality without your consent. These include, but are not limited to, circumstances in which disclosing information is necessary for the protection of the patient, another person or perhaps in the course of protecting a child who may be subject to abuse or neglect. Further information about confidentiality will be explained at time of entering counseling.
How is it decided if I can best benefit from individual counseling instead of family, marital or group therapy?
The choice of treatment modality—individual, family, marital or perhaps referral to group counseling—is a decision made collaboratively between the patient and therapist, based upon the therapist's assessment of the presenting problems and recommendations. Usually the choice of treatment modality is driven be the patient's treatment goals.
What if medication would be helpful?
If the history of the presenting problems and the nature of the presenting symptoms suggest that a patient might benefit from a physician evaluation a referral is made either to a psychiatrist or to the patient's primary care physician. The physician would conduct an evaluation to determine if the patient is struggling with symptoms known to respond to medication and would then treat accordingly. With your consent, your therapist would coordinate care with the prescribing physician.
Will you be in touch with my medical doctor about my care?
While we do not routinely contact a patient's primary care physician we will certainly do so when consent to do so is provided and there is a need to coordinate care with the physician. Generally, we recommend contact with your PCP when the doctor is already prescribing medicine for anxiety, depression or other psychiatric reasons. Also, we might contact your physician when a recommendation for a medication evaluation has been provided. Finally, patients who have experienced a significant change in mood or behavior or a shift in their overall health status are often encouraged to see their physician for a full examination to rule-out underlying medical factors which may contribute to their distress.
Is it common to be nervous before the first appointment?
Yes, it is common to feel somewhat anxious prior to coming to the first psychotherapy session. This may be particularly true for those who are entering counseling for the first time. You will find that this anxiety quickly subsides during the session as you and your therapist discuss the problems bringing you into counseling and your treatment goals. We welcome any questions you may have about the psychotherapy process and we will be sure to provide a comfortable, supportive setting to collaborate with you in identifying and working towards your own treatment goals.
If you have further questions about the range of psychotherapy services available through Hawthorn Counseling Group or wish to schedule an appointment, please call us at (847) 680-0755.