Q: I can usually handle my problems on my own. Aren't people who go to counseling weak?
A: There's no shame in the therapy game! Honestly, I think everyone can benefit from therapy at times.
As humans, we are always growing and changing throughout different points in our lives. We all have our stuff to work through. Shit happens. Circumstances change. Life can get tough. We can all benefit from empathy and support, and a listening ear.
When life does not feel or look the way we think that it should, it is completely normal to experience difficult emotions. These emotions can even begin to impact our careers, relationships, and overall well-being. Therapy helps you to fully understand and accept your emotions, while giving you the tools to make the changes you desire.
It takes strength and courage to seek counseling, and it is an extremely important first step in reaching your goals! No problem that you bring to counseling is a problem "too small." Together, we will work to identify and overcome barriers that are impacting your well-being, and create healthier ways to cope with the hard stuff.
Q: Do I really need to go to therapy? isn't it just like talking to a friend?
A: Talking to a mental health professional gives you the opportunity to process through difficult situations with someone who has the training and experience to do so professionally. The nice thing about talking to a therapist, is they are trained to listen to you without judgment or expectations.
We are not here to tell you what to do. Instead, therapists should give you room to access your own wisdom - because you are the expert of your life. We're just simply trained to ask the right questions and provide the right tools to help you create the changes you desire.
Another thing that sets counseling apart from talking to a friend/family member is that our sessions are completely confidential. You do not have to worry about your personal information being shared without your consent or knowledge.
A therapist's goal is to provide you with a collaborative, safe, and confidential environment to help you grow and heal. We aim to help you to learn to trust yourself, find your voice, and build your sense of self-worth.
Q: How Can I Benefit from Therapy?
A: Therapy can help in so many ways!
Identify and better understand personal goals and values
Increase your self-esteem and sense of self-worth
Develop new and healthy coping strategies
More effectively manage feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, anger and/or grief
Improve communication skills for successful relationships
Learn different strategies to solve problems in your relationships (family, friends, colleagues)
Therapy may not stop life's waves from coming, but it can definitely teach you to ride them!
Q: How will I know if you are the right therapist for me?
A: I encourage all potential clients to do their research before scheduling their first appointment. Reach out to a few different therapists before you commit to one. We all have different styles and specialties - it’s important to learn who you connect with!
Before we meet, we will start with a free phone call to get to know each other a little better. You can ask any questions you may have about my style, treatment methods, the therapy process in general, etc.
If you think we’re a good match after our initial call (yay!), I will email you some paperwork and we will schedule our first appointment together. I’ll walk you through all the logistics before we meet.
My client focus includes:
Adults & adolescents (14 years+)
My areas of focus include:
Trauma & PTSD
Feel free to check out my "Meet Ilyssa" page to learn more about my style!
Q: What can I expect during the first session?
A: It is totally normal to feel nervous before your first session with a new therapist! The good news is - the hardest part is over. You've made the decision to start therapy. You can finally take a breath & unclench that jaw now.
The initial appointment is the time for you to begin to share your story with me. My goal from the session will be to learn more about what brought you to counseling and your goals that you would like to work towards. Therefore, you can expect that I will be primarily listening and asking questions to help me get to know you and your individual needs!
If you’re looking for the stale, clinical, psychobabble BS therapist that you’ve probably seen on TV - then you may be disappointed. I will be a lot of things as your therapist…but stuffy and cold just isn’t my style. (Disappointing, I know)
I will be real. I will be laid-back, warm, and approachable. I genuinely want to know how your week was. I will laugh with you. I will definitely ask you for recs of the best binge worthy shows. I will also probably mention how *perfect* my dog is at least once a session.
I will listen to you without question or doubt. Judgment has no place in therapy. Period. I will make sure you feel heard, supported, and validated.
I will be honest. I’m not afraid to talk about the hard or awkward stuff, and I’m certainly not afraid to remind you to give yourself grace.
I will empower you to design your own life. I am not here to tell you what to do. Instead, I will give you room to access your own wisdom - because you are the expert of your life. I’m simply trained to ask the right questions and provide the right tools to help you create the changes you desire.
I won’t pretend to know it all. I fully embrace that I am human and I will make mistakes. I am constantly learning, and am committed to growing together.
We will be a team. I will work with you to identify things that are working for you and things that are holding you back. I will help you better understand your thoughts, emotions, and behavior in a way that is relatable and easy to understand. Together, we will develop applicable strategies to help you reach your goals.
Q: What can I expect after our first appointment?
A: I believe that successful therapy is a joint process between therapist and client. Together, we will work to identify and overcome barriers that are impacting your well-being, as well as to create healthier ways to relate to yourself and those around you. You can expect for me to provide you with respect and autonomy throughout this process. You can expect a collaborative, nurturing, safe, and confidential environment that facilitates growth and healing.
Although we will be working as a team, it is ultimately your journey and you will make your own decisions. I am not here to tell you what to do. Instead, I will give you room to access your own wisdom - because you are the expert of your life. Instead, I will help you to learn to trust yourself, find your voice, and build your sense of self-worth. While I may offer opinions and suggestions from time to time, I will not tell you what to do. Instead, I will listen carefully and ask thoughtful questions to help you develop your own plan. Your own answers to these questions will then help to shape the direction of our work.
WHAT YOU’LL GAIN FROM THERAPY:
You will improve your relationship with yourself. Through self-exploration, acceptance, and compassion, you will become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and learn to cope with the difficult ones.
You will improve your relationships with others. You will become more effective in your communication. You will explore what you need and desire in your relationships, and strengthen your ability to identify and set boundaries.
You will develop the tools and skills needed to make the changes you desire. You will gain confidence in your self-worth and decision-making, as well as clarity in your personal goals.
Q: Counseling seems like a lot of work. Can't I just take medication instead?
A: Medication can be very effective, and is sometimes necessary for one's health. However, medication alone rarely solves all issues, and it is often extremely beneficial to seek counseling in addition to medication management. While medication treats the symptoms, therapy helps explore the root of the problem. Incorporating therapy into your treatment plan helps you better understand yourself and your emotions, and gives you strategies to overcome barriers that may be preventing you from reaching your goals.
Q: Will my insurance cover our sessions, and how does that work?
A: Services may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. Covered insurance plans include BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois (BCBS) PPO, Cigna (Evernorth), and United Healthcare.
If I am not an in-network provider for your insurance, I am also an out-of-network provider for all other insurance plans. This means that you may have an “out-of-network” benefit, which allows you to see any therapist, pay directly, and be partially/fully reimbursed by your provider.
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first step is to call them. Check the details of your coverage carefully.
Here are some helpful questions that you can ask them:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is my deductible? Have I already paid towards any of my deductible?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover each year?
What is the average co-pay per session?
How will my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Are there any limitations to services?
Do I need approval from my primary care physician?
Q: How do I decide if I want to bill (or be reimbursed) through my insurance or pay “out of pocket” (or use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending accounts)?
A: Many people have excellent in and out of network mental health benefits, which makes therapy sessions generally more affordable. Out-of-network benefits can actually end up costing less per session (after deductible is met) than a co-pay for an in-network therapist.
Individuals may elect to pay privately is due to privacy concerns regarding their health information, and the potential release of this information to health insurance companies and their affiliated entities. Most insurance companies require you to authorize your therapist to provide a clinical diagnosis, which will become part of the insurance files.
Although all insurance companies claim to keep such information confidential, once they have the information, I no longer have control over its use. By submitting for insurance reimbursement, a mental health diagnosis will be documented in you’re (and/or your family’s) medical record(s) that insurance companies may use in the future to determine coverage. However, the Affordable Care Act (link it) may mitigate this concern.
When billing through insurance, clients remain personally responsible for all deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, non-covered, ineligible, or unauthorized services.
Q: I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help with this?
A: You are already on the right track just by asking this question! Your active participation and commitment to the process is key to a successful experience. We only see each other for approximately one hour in a given week. This means that seeing your desired results (and maintaining results long-term) depends heavily on the work you put in outside of our sessions. Practicing and applying the skills and strategies we talk about during our sessions will really help make sure you get the most out of our time together!