YOU ASK, I ANSWER
HOW DO I KNOW I NEED THERAPY? CAN'T I JUST TALK TO A FRIEND?
While our friends can be supportive and a source of wisdom, they aren't trained to provide objective feedback or professional interventions. Therapists are third-party, qualified professionals who have spent years practicing how to help identify and treat emotional, behavioral, and relational issues.
Another difference is that friendships are reciprocal. There's a natural back-and-forth. In therapy you have a space to focus intently on your issues without needing to give any emotional support back. Think of it like a college course where you can do an intensive study in you.
HOW LONG DOES EACH THERAPY SESSION LAST?
Most sessions will last 60 minutes. The last 5-10 minutes are typically reserved for wrapping up and scheduling your next session. It is helpful if you think about what you want to work on before showing up to your scheduled appointment. This allows us to process any "road noise" quicker so we can dive into the work you want to do. Your therapist will work with you to keep track of your progress, and on your stated goals, so don't worry too much if you feel unfocused at times. That's very common! It's all part of the process.
WHAT IS THE FIRST SESSION LIKE?
The first session will be about getting to know you. It's common to feel pressure to recount your life's story, but keep in mind there is plenty of time to take things slow. Knowing all the facts about your history is only a part of the process. Your initial session is more about getting a feel for the dynamic between you and the therapist, and to start building familiarity and trust. I'll invite you to share about what you want to work on in therapy and what you're hoping to accomplish. I'll also go over any paperwork or assessments that are relevant including prior experience with therapy, substance use history, and trauma history. Feel free to ask questions about the process- we're working on building a collaborative relationship.
WHAT IS CONFIDENTIALITY?
Confidentiality is a legal and ethical requirement that therapists have to keep your personal and health information private. It means that what you share here, stays here.* If you are 14 or older, you are legally protected by confidentiality, however if you are using your parent/guardian's insurance, they will know you are in therapy. With some limitations, you are able to choose who knows about your therapy, and how much information they are allowed to know about your sessions. Your therapist will review signing a release of information, and explain what all can be shared or kept private.
When working with clients 14-18, often the therapist will discuss when a parent or guardian needs to be told about something that isn't covered by limits of confidentiality. For example, if a minor is buying unregulated drugs or hormones off the internet, or if there are other unsafe behaviors that are putting that person at risk. This is something that can be decided on a case-to-case basis. It is often advantageous to set up a regular "check in" time with a parent/guardian to support the client in sharing their progress, and to touch base about any concerns. These check ins will also be decided on a case-to-case basis, and may change depending on safety concerns.
*Limits to confidentiality (times I would have to share what you tell me with someone else) include risk of homicide, serious risk of suicide, neglect or abuse of older adults, and sexual abuse or assault of anyone under the age of 18. Please send me a message if you have additional questions about confidentiality.
HOW DO I PAY FOR THERAPY?
Gray Cat Counseling currently accepts Highmark, UPMC, Cigna, and Optum/United Health insurance. When you schedule an initial appointment, you will be asked to provide a copy of your insurance card, along with demographic information such as your legal name, birthdate, and address. Your therapist will call to verify that your plan is in network, and what your co-pay or co-insurance should be. You will be asked to call the number on the back of your insurance card to verify that your plan covers therapy services for this practice, and to double check your co-pay and any deductible you may need to meet. This will decrease the chances of any surprise costs or issues with coverage. Once your insurance is in our system, you will be charged your co-pay by credit card after each appointment, and our practice will submit a claim to your insurance company. If there are any issues or questions, contact your therapist as soon as possible. Keep in mind that most insurances are waiving all co-pays due to Covid-19, and we're happy to keep you up to date on how long that will be in effect.
We also offer out-of-network sessions. This means that if you don't have insurance, or if this practice is not covered by your plan, you will pay for sessions out of pocket then seek reimbursement through your insurance company. Reimbursement rates are dependent on your specific insurance plan, so it's recommended that you contact your insurance company to discuss your Out of Network Benefits.
WHAT KIND OF THERAPIST ARE YOU?
I am trained in relationship counseling and have a background in existentialism and phenomenology. I tend to focus on people's lived experiences and believe that your perspective is valid that that you are the expert in your own life. I work hard to meet people where they're at, and to allow growth in therapy to be organic. You'll hear me talk a lot about "the process," which is the nebulous, ineffable experience that takes place in therapy and begets change. Trusting the process allows us to focus on learning skills, digging deeper, and unearthing truths about yourself.
I am an LGBTQ informed, competent, and supporting therapist. I take yearly trainings to continue offering the best therapy for individuals who identify as a part of this community. I help people work through questions about gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual identity exploration. I am also poly and kink positive and help individuals navigate communication, boundaries, and expectations within open relationships, BDSM, DDLG, and other dynamic relationships. I am listed on KAP (Kink Aware Professionals) as well as on Poly Friendly Professionals. My goals is to let you teach me about your individual situation and dynamic, and we can work together to help you work toward your goals.