Frequently Asked Questions
What type of therapy does Advanced Behavioral Counseling (ABC) use?
ABC uses Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is the most effective type of therapy in use today and it has been thoroughly tested to evaluate its validity. The basis of this treatment is that most of our issues as people result from what we think (cognitive) and how we act (behavior) in a given situation. The goal of CBT is to change our thoughts and behaviors about that situation, person or thing. At ABC we use the formula that our actions (A) plus our behaviors (B) equal our consequences (C). A simple example of this ABC formula would be to imagine you are walking down a hallway and a person coming the other way says hello. If I believe that person to be a friend then I might have a pleasant experience and react accordingly. But if the same person in the same hallway, I believe to be an enemy then I might have an unpleasant experience and have a totally different reaction. Encountering the person is the action (A). Seeing the person as a friend or an enemy is my belief (B). My reaction to that person is the consequence (C) of the action plus my belief. By changing my belief and/or my actions I can alter my consequence or experience of the situation.
How do the sessions work?
CBT as practiced at ABC is very interactive. The therapist will interact with you by asking pertinent questions and at times providing appropriate feedback. The atmosphere is casual and nurturing. Ineffective thinking and ineffective behaviors are surfaced and resolved in an atmosphere of cooperation. The emphasis is on what will work in your situation. It is not on whom or even what is “right” in the situation, but what works to achieve your goals. Your values and your standards will always be respected. You will not be judged for what you believe or how you choose to live your life.
How long does it take to resolve an issue?
CBT is considered to be “brief therapy.” As such one of the goals is to accomplish the goals in as few sessions as practical. Another goal is to not make the person dependant on therapy or the therapist to live their lives. You will be encouraged to make your own decisions about how you want to live your life given the options you have available. The therapy will be considered over when you believe that the issues you wanted to deal with have been resolved. The therapist will not make that decision for you.
The actual number of sessions required to resolve an issue is dependant on the complexity of the issue and the people who are involved in the issue. For example the average number of sessions in the Oviedo office is three sessions. This includes some who were able to resolve their issues in as few as one session and a few who have chronic issues that are requiring on-going counseling. The most frequent number (statistically the mode) of sessions is six. One significant factor is the willingness of the clients to follow through on the follow up activities assigned at the end of each session. Some clients refer to this as their homework. Theses activities are assigned to enhance the effect of the face-to-face sessions and can many times cut the number of sessions required in half.
What is the role of the therapist in resolving my issues?
Most people who enter therapy have attempted to resolve their issues on their own. Some have gone to family members, friends and/or unlicensed “counselors” to get advice on how to resolve their issues. Although many of the people to whom someone might turn to for advice are well meaning they often lack the training, skill, experience and objectivity to really be able to understand and help resolve the issues. A licensed therapist, sometimes called a psychotherapist, in CBT is trained to evaluate beliefs and behaviors in an objective way. They have also been taught what interventions (changes) are the most effective in dealing with specific situations. They are also aware of what interventions will make things worse and not better. CBT uses a very scientific approach to counseling in the sense that the method used is to test the theories of behavior and interventions under controlled conditions to see which ones really work and with ones are just popular myths. This is where the amount of experience the therapist has, in addition to their training, skill and objectivity can help him or her to know which methods work with what people.
How does it work if I want my child to get some counseling?
If the child is under the age of eighteen, but older than five, then the legal custodian or custodians of that child will be asked to be involved in the therapy. The usual procedure is to have the custodian come into the first part of the session with the child. In this part of the session the custodian will be asked to present what they believe are the issues concerning their child. The child is usually present so that they can be aware of the concerns their custodians have for them. We will then split the session and usually ask the custodians to go out to the waiting room so that the child can feel free to express their beliefs about the custodians concerns. The child will then be informed of what the therapist believes needs to be shared with the child’s custodians. The child will be asked if they are in agreement with what needs to be said and what issues they are willing to work on. The child will then be asked to go out into the waiting area and the custodians will be informed of how the child sees their concerns and how therapy may be able to help them. The custodians may then give honest and open feedback without the child being in the room. If your child is eighteen or older they will be given the option of who they would like in their session. If your child is under five then the sessions are largely focused on parenting skills that might be used to deal with the child and no sessions may be used with the child alone.
What should I expect in my first session?
The first session at ABC is used to gather a history of the client. This is necessary to evaluate how the client’s past and current situation may be affecting them. Openness and honesty is needed in this part of therapy because even things that may seem unrelated or unimportant to the client may to the trained therapist have a significant bearing on the current issues. Toward the end of this first session the therapist will present a preliminary, informal, working description of the issues (see note) and of the cause of the present difficulties. Also assignments may be given to the client to further clarify the problems and/or to begin working on resolving the issues. The client will be asked if they agree with the information presented and if they are willing to do the assignments. These assignments will be used in the next session to further refine the emphasis in the therapy sessions.
(Note: A formal diagnosis may be required to bill your insurance company. Lifestages Counseling requires no formal diagnosis and the working diagnosis may be used for all the session.)
What if I want to try medications to reduce my symptoms?
CBT and psychotherapists in general do not prescribe medication. That does not mean that they might not recommend medications to reduce some symptoms while the person works to resolve their issues. There are also some “bio-chemical” issues that may require the long-term use of medications. However many symptoms of even bio-chemical issues can be managed through the use of CBT without medication. If your therapist believes that medication will benefit you he or she will discuss with you the benefits and side effects of the medication being considered. If you agree to try the medication the therapist will then write a letter to your Primary Care Physician or a psychiatrist recommending that you be evaluated for a specific type of medication to reduce your symptoms. The final determination of what medication to use, if any, based on your specific health issues and is up to your PCP or psychiatrist. If you are prescribed medication then your therapist will help monitor the benefits and side effects of that medication in your therapy sessions and make recommendations to you and your physician as needed.
What if I have legal issues, I am applying for disability or believe I need time off from work?
ABC is primarily a treatment office. Documentation, reports and court appearances take time away from doing therapy. However it is recognized that these issues do come up as a result of the issues that you may be dealing with in therapy. Therefore, when absolutely necessary, the therapist may be able to assist you with these matters. However since these services are not included in your cost for the sessions and since most insurance will not pay for these expenses, an additional charge will be applied. Although ABC attempts to keep these additional charges down to a minimum, if there are multiple reports, multiple people requesting information and/or court appearances, the cost can become quite high. Therefore it is best to let the ABC office assistant know when making your appointment if you suspect there may be additional documentation or consultations required. In that way you can be given as estimate of what your additional costs may be before you schedule your appointment.
For any additional questions please contact the office assistant at ABC.