Common Questions

Aren’t people who come to a mental health professional unstable, strange, or “crazy”?

By far, most of our clients are “regular people,” and facing problems or challenges that we all can face in our lives, relationships, jobs, with our children, and so on.  Some of our clients are not having “problems” at all, but simply have a desire to grow.  There is nothing wrong with—and much wisdom in—hiring an expert to help you fix a problem or to help you grow.

How am I going to feel talking about personal issues with someone that I don’t know?

It is natural for this to feel a bit awkward at first.  It is perfectly okay for a client to move slowly at first, if needed; other clients are ready to “dive in” from the beginning.  It is our job to earn your trust, and help you reach a comfort level where the issues at hand can be discussed.

How will my privacy be protected if I become a client?

Protecting your privacy is the law, and our practice strives to be fully compliant with all relevant statutes.  Within such legal boundaries, we do not release information to anyone (school, work, etc.) without your written consent.  For example, without written consent, we could not and would not even acknowledge that you were a client at our practice.  Even upon returning your phone calls, we will be very careful about leaving a message at your work, unless you state otherwise.

What is “psychotherapy?” What else does a mental health professional do?

After an initial evaluation and possible diagnosis, if needed, “psychotherapy” refers to the counseling and guidance which is provided to individuals, couples, families, and sometimes groups of unrelated people (“group therapy”).  Psychotherapy is intended to educate, empower and facilitate people learning and utilizing better life strategies, and reaching a higher level of understanding of themselves and others.  A mental health professional is also able to provide other interventions, such as training in some aspect of dealing with self or others (i.e. relaxation training, assertiveness training, anger control training), or perhaps in how to discipline your child more effectively.  Finally, a mental health professional is able to do a variety of different forms of testing and evaluation (i.e. IQ or educational testing, personality evaluation, ADHD evaluation, career testing).

How much does it cost to see a mental health professional?

Our services are usually billed by the hour. Our fees are as follows:

  • Licensed Professional Counselors are $145 for first visit and $125 for subsequent visits (Mr. Seigel’s rates are $80 per visit)
  • Psychologists, $175 (first visit), $155 (subsequent)
  • Psychiatrists, $250 (first visit), $75 -$150 (subsequent).

Many of our clients have a percentage of our fee covered by their health insurance (perhaps after an initial deductible they have to meet).  Some clients have “managed care” mental health coverage, where their only financial obligation is a co-pay (usually $25-50 per one-hour session).  We also accept Medicaid and Medicare.  The bottom line: This practice strives to make our counseling available to people at all levels of financial resources.  Please feel free to discuss any financial hardship or lack of insurance coverage.  We will make every effort to make our services affordable.

How long does counseling usually last?

The length of counseling differs widely depending on the problem or issues.  It can be as short as a few sessions, or can continue for several months or longer.  However, if counseling is to continue for a longer period of time, it is our job to ensure that you fully understand the reasons for continuing, and that you have a choice about doing so or not.

Do people that come to counseling end up on medication?

Medication is usually not a part of the treatment plan.  However, some of our clients have situations with which medications might be able to help (for example, severe depression or anxiety, or significant problems with attention/concentration).  Psychologists do not prescribe medication in Alabama, thus when the latter is needed, we consult with the client’s primary physician (pediatrician, internist, family physician) or with a psychiatrist.  Even if medication is indicated for you, we will continue your counseling, as well as interacting on your behalf with the prescribing physician, as needed (by phone or in writing).

Is it possible that I can read a book to help with my situation, instead of coming to counseling?

Some self-help books can provide excellent guidance, and currently many are available as audio books.  Some clients find that reading a good self-help book provides the guidance they need, such that counseling is not needed or can be delayed.  Our reading list can be found in “Our Library” on this website.

What are your mental health professionals’ credentials?

All of our therapists are licensed to practice in Alabama.  For additional information about education, years of experience, and specialty areas, please follow the link to “The Practice.”

Are your psychologists Christians?

Our therapists, like our client base, hold various religious beliefs.  We work with clients of many faiths, such as Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism, as well as clients without a religious affiliation and those who are unsure.  Our strong goal is to make all clients feel welcome and confident that, regarding faith issues, they will not be judged.  Counseling from a client-centered perspective is most important to us, and helps us to keep open minds about our clients’ various religious views.

My teenager seems to need to talk about some things, but I can’t get them to talk to me. They have told me that they will not talk to a counselor unless it is confidential. I can understand that, but as the parent, will I ever get any clue from the mental health professional about what is going on?

This is a delicate situation which is very common between teenagers and parents.  We do create a private forum for your teenager, and we understand that many are quite serious about not talking about their issues.  However, we first explain to them that there are a few situations which would have to be shared with parents (those involving the safety of the client or others).  Teenagers generally accept this condition without feeling constrained about what they can share.

We can do more than just create a private forum for your child.  Our practice is very family-oriented, and believes strongly in guiding and empowering parents to do their (often difficult) job.  We  can work to help you, the parent, understand what is going on—and often we can do this without your teenager feeling that his or her privacy has been compromised.

My child’s teacher has mentioned that she thinks my child may have an attention-deficit disorder, or ADHD. What should I do next?

In this situation, a good first step is to have your child seen by their pediatrician or family physician.  Both see many children and teenagers with ADHD (inattentive or hyperactive).  They often can help you to know if, indeed, this appears to be the problem.  Even when ADHD is suspected, the physician should still refer your child to a psychologist (such as those at Pitts & Associates), to have us do more specific evaluations to confirm or disconfirm the ADHD diagnosis (and if disconfirmed, to find the correct diagnosis).

A thorough and professional evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD is essential.  ADHD is very often over-diagnosed, and far too many young people are put on medication that they do not need, while the correct solutions to their problems in focusing are not pursued.  Our practice is not against medication for ADHD, but we do promise to take a conservative approach, and make sure all sensible non-medication alternatives have first been tried.  Even when medication is required, we generally focus as much or more on training the parents and child regarding better organizational, attentional, memory, and study strategies.  Occasionally, social skills training is also provided, if needed.

(See additional information under “Evaluation and Treatment of ADHD” by following the link to “Our Library.”)