Common Questions

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Developing insight and coping strategies for the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-awareness and increasing self-confidence

Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be respected. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

What is the process for responding to my call or email?

When you call our office at (301)-863-9333, or email us:
  • leave your name, phone number(s)
  • leave a message, including options for callback times
  • during those time frames, please keep your phone line open unless you have a call-waiting feature
  • it may take longer for us to contact you when your telephone line is in use
  • if you do not receive a call back or response to your email within a reasonable period of time
  • call or write again and leave another message, restating the nature of your call and, for clarity, state your phone number
  • we will respond as quickly as possible.

How long do I have to wait to get an appointment?

Often the waiting period for Pastoral Counselors is quite short. Usually you will be seen within a week or two. It depends, however, on how flexible you can be. Most therapists will have evening hours, but these usually fill up quickly. If you require an evening appointment you might have to wait a little longer.

What if I am in a crisis?

Clients in crisis, needing immediate response, please call:

To leave a message for PCC counselors call (301)-863-9333 follow the prompts to leave a message for your counselor.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

PCC therapists are independent contractors and the determination to deal with insurance companies depends upon the therapist. Many of our clients choose to self-pay and seek reimbursement from their insurance provider or pay though a Health Care Spending Account. Many clients request receipts to submit to their insurance provider for reimbursement for out of network service and are successful in receiving reimbursement. Some employee benefits plans will cover portions of the cost of counseling. Check with your benefits plan administrator to see what assistance you can receive.

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician?

How long does therapy last?

It varies with each situation. Sessions are generally about 50 minutes long. While some people come a few times and others come for several years, we have found that an average number of sessions is often about 8 - 20 sessions over a period of 6 months to a year. Often by that time significant changes have been made in the relationship. Most persons come for counseling once a week, although this can vary due to factors such as finances, schedule constraints, and emotional need.

How much does therapy cost?

In general, the fees of Pastoral Counselors are lower than fees of other health care professionals. This is due to the not-for-profit orientation of Pastoral Counseling centers. It is the prevailing ethic of Pastoral counseling that every effort is made to treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay. At The Pastoral Counseling Center of St. Mary's, Inc., we keep our "overhead" charges to a minimum and are able to pass on the savings to the client. We operate on a sliding scale. Our standard fee is $100.00 per session.

How is the PCC funded?

The Pastoral Counseling Center is funded by congregations, individuals, groups and foundations. The Pastoral Counseling Center of St. Mary's, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. The Center is governed by a Board of Directors. All donations are tax deductible. Donor gifts make it possible to provide counseling, education and other services.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.