Many people have never experienced counseling before. It's normal to feel nervous or scared about meeting someone new and being vulnerable enough to talk about very personal issues. It's also very natural to have questions about  when to seek counseling and what the process involves. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding counseling. Hopefully this will answer some of your questions and ease any uncertainty you may feel. If you have questions that are not addressed here, then we can discuss them at your initial evaluation session.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need Counseling?

Many people feel like counseling is only for people with really big problems or serious mental health issues. However, anyone can benefit from counseling. Everyone faces difficulties and stress in their lives, and can benefit from the support and guidance counseling offers. I encourage you to seek therapy before you begin experiencing major difficulties or are very overwhelmed. Proactively seeking counseling can prevent a crisis or feeling as though your life is falling apart.


If you’re thinking about whether counseling could be helpful to you, here are some questions to ask yourself:


•Do you ever feel really sad, frustrated, or lonely?

•Do you feel especially angry, annoyed, or out-of-control?

•Do you feel very anxious, worried, or guilty?

•Have you experienced some major problems at home, at school, at work, or in your neighborhood?

•Have you noticed some changes in the way you sleep, eat, or think and feel about life?

•Is it hard for you to talk about these feelings with your family or friends?

•Are your feelings having a negative effect on your life? Are they making your schoolwork, work, or  relationships with family and friends hard?


If you answered YES to any of these questions, it may be a good idea for you to talk with a counselor.


How do I know if my child or teen needs counseling?

As their parent, you probably know your child or teen better than anyone else. So, you will probably be the first to notice a change in their behavior. The behaviors to look for can vary by age.

If your child is 5 or under, behaviors to watch for include:

  • A change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Increase in tantrums or other disruptive behaviors
  • Regression to an earlier stage of development
  • Clinginess or severe separation anxiety

For school age children, the signs might include:

  • Change in appetite/sleep
  • Excessive sadness, fear, or worry
  • Angry outbursts
  • Increased conflict with siblings or friends
  • Withdrawal from friends or activities
  • A decrease in grades or increase in behavior problems at school
  • Harming self (i.e. head banging; hitting, pinching, cutting) or harming others 

For teens, some signs can be subtle and confused for "just being a teenager" and others are more obvious. These include:

  • Sleeping/eating too little or too much
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawal from family/friends or a change in friends
  • Loss of interest in activities he or she used to enjoy
  • Change in grades and/or behavior at school
  • Self-Harm (i.e. burning or cutting self)
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Excessive risk taking behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

If you are concerned for your child or teen, I encourage you to seek counseling quickly before his or her behaviors worsen. When counseling is sought early, the issues are typically resolved more easily, allowing us to achieve our goals and decrease the frequency of therapy sooner.


What issues can be addressed through counseling?

People come to counseling with a variety of needs. Some of the issues that can be addressed are: behavioral problems, ADHD, anger, anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, grief, marital issues, parenting and family issues, major life transitions, or spiritual issues. When you're ready to begin your therapy journey, call Heather at 256-279-5869 to schedule a time to discuss your strengths, needs and therapy goals.


How can counseling help?

It is my goal to provide a safe environment and supportive relationship for you to heal, learn, and grow personally. I will assist you in setting therapy goals and learning the skills needed to achieve those goals. To learn more about the potential benefits of therapy, please visit that section of our website.


What can I expect at our first session?

The first session involves learning about you and what brought you in for therapy. I'll gather information about your medical history, your family, significant relationships in your life, and any other information I feel is important given your situation. Basically, I'll be asking a lot of questions to determine how I can be of assistance to you. This process will also help us set goals for therapy.


How often would I or my child need to come to therapy?

The frequency of sessions depends on your individual needs. We can determine what works best for you at your initial evaluation.


How long are sessions?

Your initial evaluation session will last about 1 hour. Follow-up sessions typically last 45 minutes to an hour depending on your needs.


If my child or teen is in counseling, do I need to be present for the sessions?

Your participation in your child or teen's treatment is essential. Research has shown that child or adolescent counseling is much more effective when a parent or caregiver participates in the process.


Do you accept insurance?

Yes. I accept several insurance providers. To see if your insurance is accepted, please visit the Insurance and Fees section of our website. I also offer self-pay services for those who prefer not to use insurance.


Do you accept Medicaid?

No. I do not accept Medicaid at this time. If you or child have Medicaid, then you can seek counseling at Nan Coley Mental Health Center in Alexander City or at your nearest mental health facility.