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Therapeutic Help For The Journey

Figure Out Solutions to Your Challenges


Common Issues

What are some of the common issues that people seek out therapeutic help for? Many programs and books suggest that exploring counseling is a good idea but they don't tell you HOW to do it. I've included this section to assist in making this process easier to figure out.

Check out: Self-Care Guides from The American Institute of Preventative Medicine


¨      Parenting/step-parenting – Parenting a child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

¨      Family relationship enhancement

¨      Adolescents/children

¨      Adult children of alcoholics/other dysfunctional families

¨      Aging parents

¨      Codependency (a term to describe imbalanced or unhealthy support to/of others), boundaries

¨      Couples/marriage/divorce

 ADDICTIONS/COMPULSIONS (one’s own, or dealing with a loved one’s)

¨      Alcoholism

¨      Drug abuse

¨      Compulsive exercise

¨      Food (including compulsive overeating, dieting, anorexia, bulimia, food obsessions)

¨      Gambling

¨      Sexual addictions

¨      Compulsive shopping/spending


¨      Rape

¨      Sexual abuse

¨      Sexual harassment

¨      Child abuse

¨      Domestic violence

¨      Elder abuse


¨      Coping with chronic pain/illness

¨      Support for specific illnesses, and for caretakers of people with those illnesses


¨      Anger management

¨      Anxiety/phobias

¨      Depression

¨      Grief

¨      Stress management/relaxation skills


¨      Aging

¨      Menopause

 Types of Help Available and Costs

 What types of therapeutic help are available?  What are the differences between them?


Some common types of therapeutic resources available include:

¨      Individual counseling: one counselor with one client (generally for 1-hour sessions)

¨      Couples/family counseling: one counselor with one couple/family (generally for 1-hour sessions)

¨      Therapy groups: one (occasionally two) counselor with 4-12 clients (generally 1.5-2 hour sessions)

¨      Self-help support groups: leaderless or members rotate leading; (generally 1- 1.5 hour sessions)

¨      Psychoeducational classes: taught by therapist or other healthcare professional (generally last 1.5- 2 hour sessions), 4-12 weeks

¨      Employee Assistance Programs: If you have benefits through your own or your spouse’s employer, you may have access to their employee assistance program (EAP), which typically offers a limited number of counseling sessions at no charge.


Some differences among these are: 

¨      Individual, couples and family counseling allow you the most time to focus on your individual situation and concerns.

¨      Therapy groups, self-help groups and classes may help you feel less alone with your problem/feelings, allow you to learn from others’ experiences and help others by sharing yours, and can be a rich resource for building support/friendships that may extend outside the group. 

¨      Psychoeducational classes focus on information and skill building.

¨      Therapy and self-help groups are more likely to focus in-depth on members’ feelings and personal histories. 

¨      Employee Assistance Programs are adequate to meet some people’s needs; in other cases, the EAP counselor will refer the client on to other resources after they have used up their allotted EAP sessions.  If you’re not sure what you want to focus on, the EAP sessions may help you clarify this before proceeding to a private counselor.

¨      Some people find it helpful to use a combination of therapy, classes and/or support groups while working on a given issue in their lives.


How much do these different options cost?


Costs will vary depending upon whether you choose individual or group therapy, the type of therapist and whether you have insurance coverage or an employer that provides an employee assistance program that provides these benefits.  


Therapy and self-help groups:

¨      Therapy groups typically cost less than individual, couples, or family sessions. 

¨      Psychoeducational classes are less expensive than therapy (about $10 per class) and are offered through hospitals and other community resources; most of these make their catalogs available to the public at no charge (see Kaiser Permanente’s Health Education catalog for a listing of our current offerings). 

¨      Self-help groups are generally free or based on voluntary donation. 

Individual counseling:

¨      Low-cost or free therapy is available in some settings, including county and other government-funded services, agencies that receive charitable contributions (United Way, churches, etc.), and those where student interns provide the counseling services. 

¨      Some private therapists offer sliding scale or low-income slots; some of these allow clients to determine what they can afford within the sliding scale, while others define the price based on the client’s income.

¨      Therapists who have the title “Doctor” (whose degrees are either have Ph.D., Psy. D and MD) often cost more than those with master’s degrees.  In Oregon, only those with doctorates can call themselves “psychologists;” those with Masters degrees usually refer to themselves as “therapists” or “counselors.” Fees vary, but usually range between $75 and $150 an hour.  


Finding and Choosing a Therapist or Resource


How do I find the right therapist or resource to meet my needs?  How can I get recommendations or find out who is available?

Personal recommendations from friends or those you trust (health care professionals, etc.) can be very helpful.  In addition, there are a number of free information and referral phone lines, where you can anonymously get assistance in finding the resources you need.  While there are some variations between them, these services typically provide general information, and will also help you select an appropriate mental health resource based on your needs.  A number of these services are listed below. These are examples of what to explore in your city. The American Institute of Preventative Medicine's Mental Health Fitness Guide listed below is excellent.

What other things should I consider before I choose a therapist?

You may want to consider:

 ¨      Practical considerations (location, office hours, price range/insurance, etc.)

¨      Any personal preferences: age, gender, religious affiliation, etc.

¨      Specific topic area(s) you want to focus on and professional expertise (addictions/compulsions, life transitions, sexual trauma, family/relationship problems, mood disorders, etc.)

¨      Licensure (see below)

¨      Therapeutic “style” (short term vs. long term, directive vs. non-directive, etc.). 


Should I see a licensed therapist? What’s the difference between a social worker and a professional counselor?  How can I better understand what their credentials mean?

The “L” that begins many credentials (LCSW, LMFT, LPC, etc) generally indicates “licensed,” and typically reflects state licensure; other credentials (MSW, MA, Ph.D., etc.) indicate the kind of graduate degree the person has earned.  Many different kinds of degrees can qualify a person to be a counselor, including doctorates; masters in psychology, education, or social work; nursing degrees, and degrees in pastoral counseling.

There is a difference between licensed and unlicensed providers. At this time, it is legal to practice counseling in the state of Oregon without any training or licensure, so anyone can advertise themselves as a counselor.  This makes it especially important to be a cautious and informed consumer.  One advantage of going to a licensed provider is that this indicates they have met a certain standard of knowledge, training and experience as defined by the state.  It also means that there is a governing board, who can be contacted in case of complaints against the counselor and, if the charges are serious enough, the board will investigate, and may revoke the license.  If you are considering going to a licensed provider, you can call their board to find out if any complaints have been filed against them and, if so, what the board’s conclusions were after investigation. 

Another advantage to seeing a licensed provider is that most insurance companies will only cover a state-licensed provider.  (Be aware, though, that just because a provider is licensed, this doesn’t guarantee that your insurance will cover them.)

On the other hand, there are good counselors who are not licensed, so if you find an unlicensed counselor who seems like a good “fit” for you or has been recommended, this can be a perfectly viable choice. In any case, it is best to use the recommendation of someone whose judgment you respect in selecting a good counselor, rather than relying on credentials or insurance coverage alone as a basis for selection. 

What questions might I ask the therapist to help me determine if he/she is a good “fit” for  My needs?someone I feel comfortable with?

 ¨      How long is a typical course of treatment for this kind of problem? 

¨      Have you worked with this kind of problem before?  What is your understanding of what causes it, and what cures it?

¨      What type of approach would you take to helping me with this problem?

¨      After talking to a potential provider, ask yourself: Is this someone I could feel comfortable confiding in?  Do they listen  carefully?  Do they treat my questions and concerns with respect, and provide clear answers that I can understand?

¨      What is most important is how comfortable you feel with the therapist’s personal style and approach. Be aware that you may not be able to completely evaluate this “fit” until you have a session or two with the therapist.

 What if I’m considering joining a therapy group?  What questions might I ask?

¨      Is this a time-limited group?  If so, how long does it run?

¨      Does the group have a topic/focus, and if so, what is it?

¨      Is there variety in ages, gender, etc. in the group?  (If not, consider if you would be comfortable, especially if you would be the only person of your gender, age group, etc.)

Used with permission from © 2004, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Education Services, Freedom From Diets Program, Optional Sources of Support Guide

Get the help you need. You don’t have to do it alone.


Self-Care Guides from The American Institute of Preventative Medicine

The Only Self-Care Guide For Mental Health Concerns.
Minding Your Mental Health Readers can review 25 mental health conditions and determine the best course for treatment. Examples: anger, phobias, depression, anxiety, burnout, co-dependency, eating disorders, passive/aggressive behaviors, marital/relationship problems, gambling, grief/bereavement, parenting issues, self-esteem, sexual concerns, sleep problems, stress, and many other topics are covered.

Suggestions are given about when to seek emergency care, when to see a physician, when to go to a counselor, and when self-help is appropriate. 7 3/8" x 9". 96 pages COST: $6.49. Item #: 2147.   Medical Self-Care Guides" Page:

Resources: The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, by Martha Davis and Mathew McKay, © 2002, New Harbinger Publication, Inc. gives the medical basis of stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and drug use—explained in a fun, easy-to-read format. Interactive depression self-help site. From Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. Includes a one-time registration. Practical suggestions. provides comprehensive explanation of what depression is, the symptoms, types, causes, and treatments. After personal evaluation, your doctor may prescribe medications to help stabilize your thinking processes. Many individuals don't require drug therapy, but it can be essential for some people. I recommend evaluating your lifestyle choices and making gradual changes that fit you and feel good, as an essential component for life-long mental well-being. Inclusion here does not constitute endorsement of this site, or of any other products or services contained therein. See How To Use This Site for ideas on how to begin. Best comprehensive site on the Internet. Includes: helpful introduction, comprehensive disorder explanation, diagnosis and treatment, diagnose yourself segment, quality of life assessment, extensive medication description, magazine and books sections, research findings, Internet links, and help. SEE BELOW:

Our purpose; helpful tips; how to contact us; awards.

Authoritative descriptions of the 54 most common mental disorders including: diagnosis, treatment, and research findings.

Web Communities: Join in discussions on Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Schizophrenia.

Authoritative descriptions of the 72 most common psychiatric drugs including: indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, adverse effects, overdose, dosage, and research findings.

Mental health news, magazine articles, booklets, stories of recovery, letters, and editorials.

Two books, "Our Lives with Schizophrenia" and "Our Lives with Depression", document the personal experiences of individuals recovering from schizophrenia and depression.

Diagnose Yourself
Online diagnosis of the 37 most common mental disorders (including: Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Substance Use Disorders).

Quality of Life
Online assessment of an individual's quality of life (i.e., social functioning, vocational functioning, mental health and physical health). Weekly reassessment using this scale can accurately monitor an individual's progress or response to therapy.

The latest research findings for each psychiatric disorder and medication.

Internet Links
Links to other mental health sites.

How to find information on our site and on the Internet.

American Psychological Association: Provides information on how to find help for life’s problems.

¨      Children and abuse, attention disorders, development, divorce, language, self esteem, violence, and more.

¨      Depression and aging, eating disorders, exercise, suicide treatment, the workplace, and more.

¨      Parenting and childcare, custody, discipline, grandparents, lesbian and gay parents, stepfamilies, working,  and more.

¨      Therapy and children/adolescents, ethics/legal issues, groups, HIV/AIDS, men, psychologists, and more

¨     Women and abuse/violence, cancer, career/work issues, family, health, substance abuse, and more.


Food Issues – Resources – Support Groups


¨      Overeaters Anonymous  (self-help support; free or donation) –503- 254-5658 Call for a schedule. Also visit:



¨      ANRED & EDAP

(Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders & Eating Disorders Awareness And Prevention, Inc.)

Oregon: 541-344-1144 (recorded message)

National: 800-931-2237



-refers to resources in each city for eating disorders/compulsive food issues

-definitions, descriptions, warning signs, statistics, who gets these disorders and why, treatment & recovery, diabetes & eating disorders, obesity definitions. Many topics. A comprehensive site

-links to other sites


¨      Gurze Books (Disordered Eating)

P.O. Box 2238

Carlsbad, CA  92018





-catalog contains many book resources and directory of treatment facilities

-the website contains many links to disordered eating sites that contain valuable information


¨      HUGS International, Inc.

Box 102A, RR#3

Portage La Prairie, MB

R1N 3A3 Canada




-Non-Diet resources—Tools for healthier, energetic & confident lifestyles; includes cookbooks, affirmation tapes, fun fitness videos, and a teen program




             Copyright © 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!