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Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Here are some of the questions I, as a counsellor and parenting expert, get asked most often:

Who Do You Work With?  Will You Meet With My Kids?
I work with parents who have kids between the ages of 6 – 18, and teens as young as 13.  I don’t work with children directly if they are under the age of 13, but regularly find that even when parents are struggling with their school-age children, the work we do together can have a tremendous impact on their children’s behaviour.  As parents, we set the “tone” in our homes, and in many cases, this is enough to turn around the problem behaviour without ever having to take the children to meet with someone themselves.  If it does seem as though your child could benefit from some counselling him- or herself, I’d be happy to discuss your options with you when the time comes.

Are Sessions Covered By My Benefits or Extended Health Insurance?
Usually.  If your benefits don't include coverage for a "psychotherapist", most plans do include a “psychologist” — which I am NOT.  However, I do work with one, whose name is Dr Jill Pickett.  You can let me know in our first session if you have insurance coverage you’d like to use.  If you do, Dr Pickett will oversee our work together, and provide me with guidance and supervision behind the scenes.  You and I will meet privately in my Oakville office for our sessions.

Before we meet, you may want to check your benefits documentation.  Some policies require that you meet with your family doctor to get a referral before the insurance company will cover the sessions.  You can simply let your doctor know that you need a referral note for “psychological counselling” or something similar if your doctor usually uses a different term.  You can then submit this referral note with your first receipt to your insurance company, and you’re all set.

What Is The Difference Between Coaching and Counselling?
There are no hard and fast definitions for these two words.  Coaching tends to be more future-oriented, not spending too much time looking at how we got where we are, but more focused on how we can get to where we want to go.  Counselling is more of a therapeutic process, designed to help us understand how we got to where we are now, and in many cases, uncover some of the unconscious patterns that keep us trapped in the same cycles over and over.  The work that I do is a combination of both, as needed.  My training  and experience in both counselling and coaching helps me to be uniquely able to switch gears and provide clients with the ideas and perspectives that are going to help you make the lasting changes you’re looking for.

I’ve Never Been To Counselling Before.  What Can I Expect?
In our first session, I’ll go over the confidentiality limits with you and answer any questions you may have.  We’ll start our first session by doing an “intake assessment” – essentially a thorough overview of what you’ve been going through, your goals for our work together, and a big-picture view of how we’ll approach our work together.  After that our sessions will feel more like conversations, where we’ll talk about what’s on your mind, what challenges you’ve been having over the past week, and ideas on where to go from here.  I’ll also get some feedback from you, both at the beginning of each session and at the end, to help me make sure that we’re on the same page in terms of the direction of our work together, and to help me make sure that you’re always seeing positive changes in your day-to-day life because of our work together.  It’s important to me that there are measurable improvements and progress toward your goals.  If there isn’t, I want to catch that right away, so we can change what we’re doing to make it more effective and to make sure that every session we have, is valuable.

How Long Are Sessions?
Each session is 50 minutes in length.

How Long Do Most People Attend Sessions For?
That’s hard to say.  It really depends on the nature of the concern, and how effectively you’re able to put into practice the ideas and strategies we discuss during our sessions.  The national average is about 10 sessions, but what matters more is how you feel about our progress together and what you feel makes the most sense for you.

How Regularly Are Sessions Booked?
I recommend to new clients that when we start working together, and a desire for change is particularly urgent, we meet once a week.  I don’t generally meet with clients more often than that (although if there is a crisis and you’re desperate to get together before your next appointment, by all means call me and I’m happy to fit you in if I can).  Once things are starting to run a bit more smoothly for you, whenever that might be, we often start meeting every other week.  And when you reach the point where you’re ready just for check-ins and the occasional dose of support, we’ll meet once a month for the next little while, until you’re feeling ready to go it alone.  Of course, this is just a typical outline — we’ll always base our scheduling decisions on how you feel you’re doing, and adjust as needed.

What Can You Tell Me About Your Effectiveness As A Therapist?

Because I use a systematic process to track my clients' progress in our work together, I have concrete facts that I can share about my work:

  • About 76% of my clients show a reliable clinical change by the end of therapy.  Studies of therapy effectiveness show that most therapists help 20-70% of their clients achieve reliable change, with some therapists showing that the average client worsens in their care!  Most medication studies show that about 50-65% of clients receive a clinical benefit.
  • My clients experience positive change that is greater than would be expected of clients who began therapy with similar levels of distress.
  • My clients who have experienced a reliable positive change in their well-being stay in therapy with me for an average of 3-4 sessions, well below the clinical average of 10 sessions.

While it is impossible to predict one person's course of therapy, length of stay, or treatment results from looking at a group as a whole, this data can inform your decision about starting or continuing a course of treatment.

What Happens If I Have To Cancel An Appointment?
Not to worry – I understand that things come up.  All I ask for is 24 hours notice, so that someone else can take advantage of the now-available slot.

Where Do I Go From Here?
Call my office today at 905-491-6949, and my assistant would be happy to book an appointment for us to get started.  Or send me an email.  Evening appointments book up fast – don’t wait to call.  You deserve to feel better…right now.

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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