How do I start counseling

Have a Free Phone Consultation

Contact me at 213-228-3511 or Mark@sCounseling.com so I can:

  • Get an overview of your situation
  • Understand what you would like to accomplish with counseling
  • Answer any questions you might have

If it appears to be a good fit between us, we would schedule an appointment.

Save Time – Complete Intake Form

Please complete the Informed Consent and at least the first page of the Client Information form. Completing the rest is very helpful and will aid in the counseling sessions.

Have Your Initial Appointment

What is the purpose for the initial phone consultation?

The main goals are to get to know each other a bit, understand what you are looking for in counseling, determine if I would be a good fit to help you accomplish it, set the fee and to answer any questions you might have. Once you decide that you would like to pursue counseling with me, we would set a time for our initial session.

How often would we meet?

My preference initially is once a week. This provides the best environment to address and resolve what you came in for. But it is something we can discuss and it would be your choice.

How long are counseling sessions?

Typically counseling sessions last 50 minutes.

Session can be longer depending on the situation.

How long does counseling take?

It is difficult to determine at the start and depends on what you are trying to accomplish, how long it has been an issue, and a number of other factors. Some clients will engage in counseling for a period of time and then take a break knowing they can return at any point in time for “booster” sessions or if difficulties arise.

Why would I want to see a counselor?

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra help when you need it.

“I can usually handle my problems, isn’t counseling just a matter of common sense?” Counseling is something that would be helpful if the problem just isn’t getting resolved, if it persists or get worse despite your best efforts.

Counseling can give you tools to avoid difficult past behaviors and situations, work through new ones, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

You might want to consider counseling when you are:

  • Feeling unsatisfied, stuck, trapped, or lost and would like to address it
  • Wrestling with life’s meaning and would like help sorting it out
  • In a significant transition in life
  • Experiencing difficulties in relationships with your spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, or co-worker
  • Behaving in a way that is hurting yourself or others
  • Dealing with a past experience that isn’t getting resolved
  • Want more out of life

Is there something wrong with me if I want see a counselor?

No. It just means that you want to solve a problem. It really isn’t any different than taking your car to a mechanic when there’s definitely something wrong. You could hope it goes away, but if it doesn’t, then it’s time to do something. We all need a little help at times.

How do we change… for the better?

This is a question that has many answers, opinions and perspectives. Here are a few of my brief thoughts on how I believe change happens.

We change:

  • By talking. This might seem strange, but something does happen when we talk. We are using a different part of the brain and the subject is processed differently. Also, having someone listening and (hopefully) providing useful feedback helps. But even if they just listened and nodded their head, you might be surprised at what it does. Women know this much better than us men. This might be called external processing, vs. internal processing (just being in our head).
  • Doing more of what works by finding exceptions when the problem is not a problem. Nobody is a complete failure (even if we might feel like it at times). So the focus is on what is working, what you are doing right, and doing more of it. It is also about building on your strengths, your resources, and formulating solutions.
  • By changing our behavior. This is an outside in approach with the goal of establishing new ways of doing things. If the new behavior works, a new habit is established, which will be positively reinforced in your feelings and thoughts. This helps to reinforce and continue the new behavior.
  • Through awareness of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how it is impacting others and ourselves. Sometimes our intentions (what we meant to do) and how others receive and perceive it can be very different. You are trying to do what seems to be a right and reasonable thing, but you just get grief for it, from other or possibly yourself.
  • By thinking differently, by having a different perspective. If we view ourselves to be the problem, it usually is more difficult to change than if you view the problem as the problem. When we consider the problem external to ourselves and work on it from that perspective, it bypasses a lot of self judgement and shame that can get in the way of positive change.
  • With time, even if we don’t “do” anything to bring about change, things around us change and we change. The problem is that it could go either way, things can get better or get worse. You are just along for the ride. So I would encourage you to take an active part in your changing world, to make positive changes in your life.

I’m concerned that I will be in counseling for a long time.

You are in charge of the counseling and you will make the decisions regarding what we work on and for how long. I will make recommendations, but you will participate in developing your treatment plan. Initially, we set goals, revisit them every few months to evaluate your progress and adjust the goals, and determine if you want to continue in therapy or whether you feel you’re ready to stop counseling. Stopping does not have to be permanent, you can return at any point in time for “booster” sessions or if difficulties arise.

What if I need to cancel a session?

I have a 24 hour cancellation policy. If you miss a scheduled session you will be responsible for the full session fee. An exception would be to find another time to meet that week, which is sometimes possible. Let’s talk about this if you have a concern. This is not just about time and money, there are clinical reasons for this policy that benefit you.

How can counseling help?

A counselor can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem, help you enhance your problem-solving skills and find alternative solutions. In the end though, the benefits you obtain from counseling depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. And the counselor is there to help with this also.

The benefits include:

  • Resolution of the issues or concerns that led you to counseling
  • Developing skills for improved relationships
  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your values and goals
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Your emotions, an improved understanding, appreciation and expression of them
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your relationships (marriage, family, friends, work)
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Is counseling confidential?

In general the answer is yes. The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and counselor (Marriage & Family Therapist). No information would be disclosed without prior written permission from you the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law, which include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The counselor is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The counselor is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The counselor will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.

Let’s talk if you have any questions or concerns about this. It is important that you feel confident that your privacy is protected to the fullest extent that is permitted.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Mark Tinley

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (Lic # 52487)

213-228-3511

Mark@sCounseling.com

Office: Downtown Los Angeles

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