Therapist. Human. Son. Mate. Realistic idealist. Champion of social justice. Artist. Writer. Grown-up Lost Boy. TBD...
Assessments (testing) are conducted for many reasons. Perhaps there are struggles in a relationship, family or financial stress, parenting difficulties, problems with work or school, addiction or substance abuse, mood problems, post-traumatic stress, or anxiety...just to name a few. Parents generally seek psychological evaluation and treatment for children because of behavior problems, poor grades, socialization concerns, or developmental delays. Family doctors or school officials may also recommend an evaluation for a child who seems depressed, angry, defiant or aggressive.
• ADHD in children and adults
• Alcohol or drug abuse and addiction
• Alzheimer’s and other Dementia’s
• Anxiety Disorders
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Bariatric Surgery Assessment
• Career/Vocational Assessments
• Diagnostic Study for general treatment recommendations
• Disability Evaluations for Social Security or MHMR
• Intellectual Disability (IQ)
• Learning Disorders/other learning disability (eg: dyslexia)
• Mood Disorders
• Neuropsychological Evaluations related to strokes, epilepsy or TBI
Not sure what type of evaluation you need but know “something just isn’t right?” I specialize in difficult cases.
All assessments include a detailed clinical interview, a review of pertinent records, standardized testing only with empirically validated instruments, a feedback session to understand the results of the testing, and a written report of the evaluation that includes treatment recommendations.
What is therapy? For those who have never engaged in therapy, this is probably the most common question asked during the first session. I wish that after years of schooling and working as a mental health professional I had a better answer, but the reality is therapy is different things to different people. For a starting point, psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) is a way to help people who are suffering understand mental illness or stresses, better manage symptoms and triggers, and function at their best in everyday life. Sometimes therapy is individual in nature, and sometimes it involves others such as spouses, family members or other individuals with similar circumstances (group therapy).
There are many types of therapy used to address varying concerns. What is important to remember is that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Some therapists focus on only one style of therapy; others, like me, take a more “eclectic” approach where we select specific interventions based on what is happening in the moment. As there is no right or wrong way, the best approach is whatever is agreed upon by the therapist and the client. In fact, here are a few things to keep in mind from research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy:
So back to the original question - “What is therapy?” Well, I would describe therapy as a purposeful conversation with a trained professional who can offer alternative points of view, share insights, gently confront on distorted thinking processes, and brainstorm solutions to mitigate the stresses of life or troubling circumstances. Counseling consists of compassionately helping you solve problems, reach your goals, learn about yourself, improve your functioning....and basically live your best life.
Consultation can be hard to define because it is so variable based on your individual or family’s needs. I offer parental training, treatment planning, aftercare planning, school observation and consultation with educators, family consultation for geriatric concerns or medical crises, and psychoeducation regarding mental illness for families and loved ones.
Agencies, schools, businesses, and groups frequently need assistance in understanding mental illness from a larger perspective in terms of customer or employee retention, compensation and performance review, addressing problematic behaviors, candidate screening, and development of policies and processes.
Therapists are frequently requested to assist in legal matters such as child custody cases, civil claims, or even court-ordered therapy. Much of this type of work is better performed by a forensic psychologist with specialized training per various statutes and regulations. My availability to assist in any legal matter will depend on a number of factors that would best be discussed in-person. I am available for court-ordered therapy in both the pre- and post-adjudication stages. I do not conduct child custody evaluations, but am available for social study evaluations that can be included in larger custody evaluations. Also, parenting coordination and parenting facilitation services are available.
If you are in a more remote area of Texas, distance counseling options may be a good fit for what you need. Finding someone in your area who specializes in what you need can sometimes be a challenge. Perhaps you found a clinician online you believe would have a better “feel” for your concerns. Maybe looking outside your local area can provide a greater sense of discretion for those who are worried about being seen coming and going from a therapist office. Internet counseling is also a good option if you’re unable to leave your home because of disability, age, debilitating anxiety, or severe depression. There are many reasons one might consider online or distance therapy in this digital age. My goal is to help you live your best life, and that includes providing services to those who are unable to engage in therapy simply because they cannot leave their homes or do not have a good local option.
What will happen in the first session?
It’s perfectly normal and natural to feel nervous about your first counseling session, or your first session with a new therapist. I understand it takes a lot of courage to share your feelings and experiences with someone you just met. We will work together to identify and understand your concerns and develop a plan to make changes in your life. This process usually takes several sessions. I think of it as the “getting to know each other” stage of our new relationship. It’s a time for you to decide if I am the right fit, and for me to determine if I might be able to help you. This is a collaborative process, but ultimately you are in the driver’s seat.
Is this confidential?
Under Texas law, our conversations are confidential except under certain circumstances. We will discuss this at the outset of therapy, and I will make sure you understand the details of these exceptions in the first session before you begin counseling. It is often helpful to discuss your case with other professionals, and I may ask for your permission to do this.
How long will we be talking? How often?
Typically, a counseling session lasts 45 minutes. There may be exceptions to this, and we will make adjustments to meet your needs. We will decide together how often to meet. Usually, it’s best to meet weekly in the early stages. I like to transition my clients to biweekly and then monthly sessions as our work progresses.
How many sessions will I need?
The therapy process can range from one or two sessions to several months or longer, depending on the nature of the issues we are working to resolve. I do not set a minimum or maximum number of sessions and prefer to remain flexible based on your needs. You are the expert on you, and I believe you will know during the course of therapy when your issues are resolved or not. We will continually review your treatment goals and assess your progress to determine whether or not counseling should continue.
How will I know if we are a good fit?
I recommend that we give it at least two sessions to see if we mesh and if we both feel I can help you. The first session is often focused on informed consents and other paperwork, and an initial understanding of what is happening in your life. From the second session onward we delve deeper into “the issues” and this is when we best know if we can work together. This is a collaborative process and we both need to feel comfortable proceeding. If not, I will be happy to discuss referral options to someone with whom you might feel more comfortable.
Do you prescribe medications?
No, medications are prescribed by medical doctors. I will help you monitor your medications to determine how well they are working. With your permission, I will work close with your prescribing doctor to coordinate our treatment plans. As a best practice, medications for mental health reasons (“psychotropics”) are best prescribed by psychiatrists, as they have specialized and advanced training in medications that alter brain chemistry. In many cases, medications are also prescribed by general physicians, internists, and nurse practitioners. Regardless of who writes your script, I can work with you to coordinate treatment and monitor symptoms for maximum efficacy.
Can we do this over the phone? Skype?
In this digital age of too many commitments and not enough time, providing alternatives to in-person therapy can be crucial in delivering services. I am more than willing to discuss this on a case-by-case basis.
Wes Parks I © 2013. All rights reserved.