Do You Have a Question for Junelle?

Junelle Barrett Porter answers these frequently asked questions about counseling prices, insurance concerns, and how to know when you are ready to begin counseling.

The very fact that you are reading this creates a likelihood that the time is near. Here are some questions for you to contemplate:

Are you content with your relational life, regardless of your relationship status?
Are you able to identify what is important to you and set goals?
Are you able to pursue your interests and goals?
Do you know your self-worth?

Most problems that people bring to therapy are related to one or more of these questions.

Here are some further questions to reflect on:

Is there a persistent problem, condition, and way of feeling or upset that has been bothering you for a while?
Is there something that you want to change in yourself or your life?
Are you tired of having the same conversation about something over and over in your head or with your friends, yet nothing seems to change?
Does the issue feel too big to tackle by yourself?
Has that quiet, intuitive little voice inside of you been nudging you to get some outside, professional help with something.... and it keeps nudging despite your attempts to ignore or shhhh it away?

If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions... it's time.

Friends or family members are not professionally trained to help you grow, heal and change. Nor are they objective. It's likely that your friends and family have been giving you their best advice for some time now, and if it were sufficient, you probably wouldn't be reading this. But here is why your friend's advice is different from a therapist. Your friends may tell you what they think you want to hear, or their best advice based on opinions. (We all tend to give advice based on our subjective experience.) A trained therapist is interested in helping you break through the coping strategies that suppress your own authentic wisdom. They are trained to listen for what might be keeping you stuck or hindering you from your own inner resources.

Please read my article "Research Study Says Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money".

Here are the key findings of Martin Seligman in a Consumer Report Study her wrote about therapy effectiveness

  • Psychotherapy produced positive effects in 92% of respondents.
  • The longer people stayed in therapy, the better their results.
  • People that were active in therapy did better than those that were passive. People that actively engaged by being open, asking questions, and following up did better.
  • For most psychological conditions, people in therapy alone did as well as people who had medication plus therapy.
  • Respondents who stayed in therapy only until insurance coverage allowed did worse than those who stayed until their concerns were resolved.

Essentially, my job is to help you free yourself to be yourself. Here is how it works.

When something bad happens and we feel powerless to control our environment or future, we create a psychological strategy to protect ourselves. These are called defenses. Defenses are not bad things; without them, we literally couldn't function. The bad news is that defenses can interfere with your quality of life ... your ability to love, be loved, pursue goals, and experience self-worth. When that happens, my job is to help you work through or around these defenses. Many of these defenses developed outside of your conscious awareness during vulnerable times throughout your past. When they stick around too long, they can deprive you of living the life that you want to live, Gently, compassionately, and tenaciously, we dissolve these defenses so you can free yourself to pursue life directions that have meaning and purpose for you.

I do this by helping you connect with yourself as honestly as you are capable. As we work together, new restorative experiences associated with feeling self-acceptance, self-compassion, inner clarity, and connection occur. Your relationship with yourself, your life, and others start to deepen and expand. Fear gives way to freedom and curiosity. Anger gives way to acceptance. And sorrow eases, creating room for resilience, love, and self-activation.

You really need to meet me face-to-face in order to get a good idea of what I'm like as a person and as a professional. At our first meeting you should keep these questions in mind:

  • How easy is it to talk to her?
  • Does she seem like somebody I could trust?
  • Is she really listening to me?
  • Does she seem to know what she is doing?
  • Does she seem confident and competent?
  • Do I feel comfortable with her?
  • Could I ever show this person the deepest, ugliest parts of myself?
  • Does she seem to have the capacity to handle me.
  • Mostly, does she listen to me and does she "get" me.

It would be so handy for me to have an exact answer to this question. But unfortunately, I don't. It's kind of like trying to tell you how long a piece of string is. It depends on how long the string is ... right?

There are many factors to consider, such as: What are your goals or hopes for therapy? How will we know when they have been met? How long has the problem been in the making? How have you coped with the problem up until now? How have your ways of coping compromised your deeper sense of aliveness and well-being?

I know, lots of questions here. Some of these questions cannot be answered right away; they are answered during treatment through discovery and understanding.

Here's how you will gain the most benefit from therapy.

  1. Look at the money you spend on therapy as an investment in your future. The benefits you experience will justify the expense.
  2. Be an active participant to your fullest capacity. Your therapy will take work - on your part and on mine. If you are passive about your therapy, it will take longer than it needs to.

Show up with the intention to be as open and honest about yourself as you can be. The first session is like a first date. I will want to learn about what is bringing you to therapy at this time in your life and hopefully you will be interested in filling me in. The likelihood is that there is much you will want to tell me and I'll be listening carefully and giving you my full attention.

At the same time I am learning about you, something else will be going on that is very important. You will likely be asking yourself:

  • How does it feel to be in the room with her?
  • Do I like her?
  • Do I feel safe with her?
  • Does she seem like she will be able to help me?
  • Can I let my guard down with her and be myself?

And I will be asking myself:

  • What is it like being in the room with her/him/them?
  • What am I feeling as I get to know her/him/them?
  • Do I feel compassion, touched, moved?
  • Do I like being with her/him/them?
  • Do I think I can help him/her/them?
  • Would I like to work with him/her/them?

By the end of the first session, we will each have a sense of each other and will have talked some about the possibility of working together. Hard research has shown that the success of therapy is determined more by the quality of the relationship, than the theoretical orientation of the therapist. If the fit doesn't feel good to you, then you owe it to yourself to keep looking. If I don't think I will be the most advantageous therapist to work with you for whatever reason, I will tell you and make a good referral to someone who I think will be able to help you. If we decide to work together then we will schedule the next appointment.

Huge question - long answer - here we go.

It may seem like therapists charge a lot of money, but believe me, the vast majority do not become wealthy from their private practices. Like anyone who works independently, fees pay for office space, office supplies, advertising, websites, continuing education, outside consultations, medical and malpractice insurance, and vacation time. While companies commonly supply these accouterments and provisions for employed professionals, those of us in private practice supply them for ourselves.

For most therapists, a full-time practice is 15-25 contact hours with clients each week. This is also true of therapists who are employed by organizations. The rest of our time we are marketing and promoting our practice, doing essential administrative work, and keeping abreast of new information through study, professional/peer consultations, seminars, and conferences. With few exceptions, we are only paid for contact hours with clients; we do not get paid for any of these other responsibilities necessary for maintaining our practice and license.