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If you would like to speak to a clinician immediately, please call 855-854-1747 or text or call 988 for the national crisis support line. You can also call CAPS at 805-437-2088 for a crisis appointment.

Individual counseling is a personal opportunity to receive support and experience growth during challenging times in life. Individual counseling can help one deal with many personal topics in life such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage and relationship challenges, parenting problems, school difficulties, career changes, etc.

Individual counseling (sometimes called psychotherapy, talk therapy, or treatment) is a process through which clients work one-on-one with a trained mental health clinician in a safe, caring, and confidential environment. Counseling allows individuals to explore their feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, work through challenging or influential memories, identify aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change.

Individual counseling is counseling focused on the individual's immediate or near future concerns. Individual counseling may encompass career counseling and planning, grief after a loved one dies or dealing with problems at a job before they become big. Individual counseling is a one-on-one discussion between the counselor and the client, who is the person seeking treatment. The two form an alliance, relationship or bond that enables trust and personal growth.

How Are Therapy Goals, Frequency, and Duration Determined?

In general, the goal of psychotherapy is to talk through mental health concerns and help clients heal, grow, and move toward more productive, psychologically healthy lives. Good therapy is client-driven, and specific goals for therapy will be determined by you and your therapist.

Individual psychotherapy sessions typically last between 45 and 50 minutes. The frequency and duration of therapy will depend largely on your needs, treatment goals, and progress. Many concerns are readily resolved with short-term therapy, and other chronic or more complex concerns require long-term commitment before improvement is realized.

Research has shown that psychotherapy results in fewer relapses of common conditions such as moderate depression and anxiety, and that the positive effects of good therapy extend well beyond treatment. In fact, many clients report improved conditions long after therapy has ended. In general, psychotherapy is often more effective than psychotropic drugs or medical treatments alone, which may cause harmful side effects. In addition, many therapeutic modalities are evidence-based, meaning they have been subject to research studies and clinical observations, and they have been analyzed for effectiveness.

What Happens During a Single Session or First-Time Appointment for Short-term Counseling?

If you and a CAPS clinician determine that a single session or short-term individual counseling is the treatment recommendation that best meets your needs, then you will be offered the first available appointment that matches your schedule. If you have particular counselor preferences, this might increase the time you have to wait for your first appointment. This first appointment will usually be scheduled within a few days to a few weeks. (Please note that if you are in need of immediate help, inform our staff so that we can connect you to the appropriate CAPS resources immediately.) The total time period required is approximately 90 minutes including completing forms on the computer, the therapy session, and scheduling follow-up appointments, so be sure to keep this in mind when scheduling your appointment.

It is essential that you arrive promptly in order to allow sufficient time to complete the necessary forms. If you are more than 15 minutes late, you may be asked to reschedule. The forms include a demographic and clinical history form, treatment agreement, consent to treatment, and a notice of privacy practices. Your clinician will obtain information about your current concerns, relevant history and goals. Your clinician also will review relevant CAPS policies and procedures, such as confidentiality.

What Happens during Subsequent or Follow-Up Sessions if Participating in Short-Term Counseling at CAPS?

For subsequent or follow-up sessions, you will meet with your counselor for approximately 45 minutes, which will be scheduled according to a mutually agreed upon plan. If you would like additional counseling beyond what CAPS can provide, then we will work with you to find a clinician in the local community.

Early on, you will work with your clinician to set goals for your counseling sessions. Establishing clear goals will provide direction as well as help you to monitor your progress in counseling. If you have any questions or concerns about the counseling process, don't hesitate to bring these up with your clinician, who will be pleased to discuss them with you. The exact direction of your counseling experience will depend on the issues you bring into counseling, your clinician’s perspective, and the goals you set for your work together.

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