What’s the difference between Coaching and Counseling?
Choosing between these two very different approaches is a critical step in improving your life. Deciding if you are better served by a Coach or a Counselor can be confusing. The old mantra, “if your sick, see a counselor, if your healthy see a coach” is simply too simplistic. Many clients seeking counseling are truly high functioning individuals who lack certain information, skills, or tools to meet current life situations. In these cases, a coach may be your best choice, provided the coach you use also understands your special needs. Coaches can be terrific mentors in making decisions, practicing life changes, and acquiring new perspectives on life. Counselors, on the other hand, do most of these things for you as well. However, a counselor is also concerned with deeper issues and events that have blocked your personal functionality in life, or have damaged your relationships. The best way to choose between coaching and counseling is to speak to a Coach who is also trained and educated to Counsel. With this advantage, you can know that a qualified professional is helping guide you properly, and will know when you need a different approach. At VBCC, our coaches are educated at the Master’s level at accredited Universities as Counselors in Mental Health and Human Services Counseling. You can be assured that the choice of help you receive will be safe and appropriate.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason isn’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication alone cannot solve all issues. What medication does is treat the symptoms. Our work together is designed to explore the root of the issue, dig deep into your behavior and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.
Medication can be effective and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy or counseling.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. We tailor our therapeutic approach to your specific needs. You and your counselor or coach will decide how often you should meet, what to work on, and if you need to do face to face sessions or can have your needs met through online video meetings.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time therapy can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place. Many find that they can resolve immediate crisis in 3 to 6 meetings. Relationship work may take longer. And many enjoy a long term counseling or coaching relationship to help manage and achieve larger goals.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
We are so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and dedication is crucial to your success. After all, we only see each other for one session every week or two. It’s the work you do outside of our sessions that will really help you see your personal growth and development. Be willing to implement the changes you discover, and you will see the best results.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with a counselor or relationship coach, we would initially work with both of you together. Sometimes, once the primary work of the relationship is completed, one or the other partner chooses to continue with individual sessions to further improve individual skills and solve other issues. In this situation, we can with only one partner or the other. However, it is usually not helpful to move from individual work into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues. In addition, research suggests that couples who attempt to work on couples issues individually are less likely to benefit from counseling. Doing the couples work as a couple continues to be the best solution. We recommend beginning and continuing as a couple whenever possible. If, however, your partner refuses to come, you can come and work on your own contribution to the relationship and see improvement over time.
Is my privacy assured?
It is the policy of VBCC, in compliance with the Health Insurance Privacy Accountability Act (HIPAA), that each client’s information, written/verbal and each client’s interactions, past or present, shall not be released without the signed permission of the client and/or the client’s legal guardian. Information will only be exchanged with other VBCC employees or individuals with signed releases of information and only to those who are actively involved in treatment services.
In addition, clients and/or their legal guardian have the right to review all privacy notices before signing, have the right to requests and restrictions on disclosure, and have the right to revoke consent.
In an effort to protect our clients’ privacy, we ask that siblings or children that accompany another child to an appointment stay in the waiting room and be supervised by an adult at all times. We request no food or beverages in the office and that cell phones are kept on vibrate while in the waiting room.
Our office requires you to sign an Informed Consent outlining your rights and responsibilities while receiving services. This form is emailed to you following your initial consultation. This form should be completed and returned on the day of your initial session. If you cannot print out the form at home, you will have an opportunity to sign an electronic version at the office.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
There are exceptions to complete confidentiality with which VBCC must comply. Some of these exceptions include child abuse, suicidal clients, Tarasoff ‘duty to warn’ in the event of imminent harm, joint custody decrees, Guardian Ad Litems, Crime Victim Compensation Program, and subpoenas. VBCC is required to report to the appropriate authorities when any of these circumstances are disclosed or present themselves.
Release of Information
Our office requires you to sign a records release form in the event that you want your records released for any purpose, including work notices, treatment, and billing information with your doctor, insurance company, school, etc. We will not release any information without this written authorization.
Coordination of Services
VBCC will do everything possible to coordinate the services you receive with other agencies and care providers when requested. Please make sure to tell your therapist or an administrative staff member if you would like your records, including but not limited to progress notes and evaluations, shared with your physician or other professional.