What's the difference between coaching and therapy ?
Coaching, as popularized lately, assumes you have no emotional disorder. It focuses on setting and reaching specific goals. Psychotherapy, in many peoples' view, assumes you have some emotional problems which are the focus of treatment. In my practice coaching is a method of helping people change and is a form of therapy. Therapy means "a process used to bring about positive change". Normal people often seek therapy to achieve personal growth. A diagnosable mental illness never WAS required to get therapy, just a desire to change some factors in your inner life and / or your relationships. Diagnosis is only required if you want you medical insurance to pay for your therapy; then you must show "medical need (illness).
Why do people choose coaching instead of therapy?
People who want change in their lives do not wish to be stigmatized with the label of "patient". People feel more positive, comfortable and dignified seeking the services of a coach. People see coaching as a brief, to-the-point process. People don't want to be caught up in years of vague psychological analysis.
Should I choose a licensed professional instead of an unlicensed "personal life coach" ?
The unlicensed helper might have the best intentions but you could be seriously damaged by sharing confidential information about your personal life and taking advice from someone who is not accountable to a state licensing board. We become emotionally vulnerable (easily influenced) by any person to whom we disclose a lot of personal information, be they friends, family or coaches. Licensed mental health professionals spend many hours being educated in ethics and best practices so they won't hurt you when you have come to them for help. If you are damaged they can lose their licenses, so there is intense accountability. Coaching is a new industry and coaches are free to confer titles and credibility upon themselves with no government oversight. There are coach certification programs and lengthy, reassuring sounding codes of ethics; but there is no punishment to back it up. Legally,your coach is under no more obligations or constraints than your tailor. If you experience psychological damage from your coach you would be referred to your Better Business Bureau. Some coaches ARE licensed professionals, like me. BUT if they conduct their coaching as a separate business from their therapy practice they may be hoping to avoid the more stringent responsibilities and constraints professional, licensed practice requires. That alone should raise a red flag for you.
What protections do I get if I consult with a licensed mental health professional that I won't have with unregulated coaches?
State laws prohibit licensed mental health professionals from disclosing information about you without your written consent unless you are in imminent danger to yourself or others; information has to be kept locked away. State laws forbid developing romantic relationships between therapist and clients or their family members. State laws forbid "dual relationships" which means you can't be used to get your therapist publicity, business deals, social connections, or other services that would not be available otherwise. You can review the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists code of ethics at www.camft.org/scriptcontent/index.cfm
What are the pros and cons of getting help on the internet?
People like the convenience of getting help by e mail. Strangely, some people find the process of e mail and chat boards less embarrassing than going to meet a therapist face to face at an office. In fact, you have no control over how your personal information is stored, distributed or publicized. You have no proof that the person corresponding with you is actually whom they say they are. There is no need to put yourself at risk. See your provider in person.
Will insurance cover my sessions with a therapist?
Maybe. If you have a diagnosable mental health problem, such as adjustment disorder with features of anxiety, if your insurance covers the type of mental health counseling you are receiving, and if that particular therapist is enrolled as a covered provider with your insurance. People are incresingly using their EAP beneifts or their health insurance to pay for therapy. These days there is less stigma associated with seeing a psychotherapist. Using insurance can be a wise or poor choice depending upon your individual situation. We have all heard the news stories about systems being invaded by hackers. In this computer internet age your number code diagnosis is stored in insurance company data systems. It may be that your diagnosis stays somewhere in the system once a mental health bill has been filed for you. The number codes on your bill are easily decoded with a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSMIV) book. Imagine the whiz kid in the computer class you teach knowing you see a counselor for depression. I contract to provide services for several insurance companies. If I thought they were careless with their data I would not contract with them. That being said, I cannot guarantee the security of your diagnosis and treatment information once it leaves my padlocked files. People who are not at all comfortable with disclosing any information to their insurance pay out-of-pocket; by passing insurance completely.
Won't it be more expensive to see a licensed MFT than a coach ?
It very well may be LESS expensive to see a licensed therapist. Licensed therapists must disclose clearly what their rates are before your first visit. They are required to refer you to someone else if the help you need is something they have not been trained for or if they realize you are not progressing to your goals in the therapy. Coaches can charge what the market will bear and they are not required to be consistent or justify their charges.
How much should services cost ?
In Santa Barbara therapy services for a fifty minute session are typically from $80 to $150. Brief telephone follow up is usually free. Nationally, research shows people use an average of twelve sessions to resolve a situation. Sessions are usually scheduled weekly but may be more often at first and less often as you become more proficient in new skills. Some therapists have payment plans. It is a good idea to keep these fee amounts in perspective. In our area divorce attorneys charge between $250 and $400 per hour, plumbers charge $70 to $90 an hour as do people who help you with your software, auto mechanics chrge $60 to $90 per hour and hairdressers charge about $50 per hour.
What insurance do you accept?
Currently I am a preferred provider for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, PacifiCare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, United Behavioral Health, United Health, Definity, Beechstreet, Medical Foundation for Kern and Santa Barbara Counties, Human Behavior Associates, Department of Rehabilitation and more. Call the toll free number on the back of your wallet card. Tell them you are seeking out patient mental health services. Ask them if I am on their preferred provider list. My office is at 5266 Hollister Ave #235 , Santa Barbara, California 93111. I am often listed as Lillian Lynne Sherman
How can I get started?
Call me at 805-967-5266 for your free initial telephone consultation. I can answer your specific questions and find out what type of problem you want help with. We'll discuss fees. We can decide if we should work together or if I should refer you to a colleague who can better meet your needs.
Lynne Sherman, LMFT#22475, 5266 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93111