What is counseling?

    Counseling is the process of a normal individual sitting down with a trained professional to talk out the problems of living.    

    This often involves exploration of the problem, and the issues surrounding it, building awareness of strengths and resources, developing new skills, and eventually creating and enacting a plan to create change that makes things better.

    Counseling is hard. It usually means looking at parts of ourselves and our lives that we would rather avoid. But it is worth it. When a person learns to look unflinchingly, and compassionately, at their life, not only can the problem leading to therapy often be solved, but there are unexpected benefits that reverberate throughout life. Counseling makes individuals stronger and more resilient. It makes relationships stronger, more genuine, and more satisfying. It gives people skills that they need to get more of what they want out of life.

Who comes to counseling?

    Normal people with normal problems.

    Sometimes the problem seems strange, or too big to deal with. Other times, people tell themselves that their problem is too small for anyone to care about, and they should be able to deal with it alone. In our experience, the most strange problems are actually normal responses to abnormal events, no problem is too big to be made better or solved, and even problems that seem small can be difficult and disruptive enough to deserve help. Essentially, if something going on in your mind is causing significant distress in your life, and/or limiting your ability to function as you believe you should, it is something worth talking about and getting help with. These problems can be a wide variety of issues including adjustment/life stress, parenting issues, anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, problems at school/work, relationship problems, self esteem, and dealing with trauma.

Who are your Clients?

    Our clients are normal people who are seeking to improve their ability to face the, sometimes extraordinary, challenges of life. They are seeking to further understand themselves and the world around them, to feel better than they do, to solve problems in their lives and relationships, to get what they want out of life better, and they are willing to work for it. They seek help with any of a wide variety of difficulties including anger management, communication difficulties at home or work, depression, anxiety, grief, social problems, abuse, trauma, PTSD, problems in school/work, exploring questions of identity, including gender identity or sexual orientation, struggles with how they are treated in the world due to their identity, or to figure out their place in the world.

Can things (I) get better?

    Yes. It takes work, and it takes time. Usually more of both than one would like. However, as long as you are doing the work you need, and getting the help that you need to create positive change in your life; Yes, you can get better.

Do you give/believe in medication?

    We do not provide medication. We also do not consider medication as a good “go to” first option for mental health issues. However, we do believe that medication has a significant role in therapy for many individuals. Medication can give people a “boost” in overcoming challenges that have become overwhelming otherwise, so that they can develop the tools to face their challenges without the medication. It also occasionally has a more permanent place in treatment for various disorders.

    We refer clients to Psychiatrists for medication management, and like to work closely with the psychiatrists to provide feedback on the impact of and/or need for medication.

How much does it cost?

    Our fee is $135 for a individual therapy session (approximately 55 minutes) , and $165 for family/relationship sessions (approximately 85 minutes). However, most health insurance covers therapy for mental health, meaning that after the deductible is met, most people pay a much smaller copay or coinsurance. Call your insurance company for your exact cost, or call our office with your insurance information, and our office manager will help you determine your current costs. If there are ever any changes to your insurance, please notify us immediately to avoid any unexpected fees.

How long does it take?

    The short answer is that it depends on the person and the presenting problem. Therapy may take as little as 8-12 weekly sessions for relatively simple issues, or can go for many years for those that are more complex or ongoing. In our experience, the majority of clients fall somewhere in between, with therapy lasting more than 3 months, but less than a year.

Why the Name Black Pine?

    At Black Pine Counseling Center, we believe strongly in human resilience; the ability to recover from adversity. While many of the difficult things that happen in life would never be chosen for anyone, we believe that people are able overcome whatever difficulty life has put in their paths. We believe that with the right help, and the right tools, people can bounce back, functioning better than they did before. When we take a healthy approach to life’s troubles, they can lead us to growth and development that we would have never achieved without them.

    The black pine, as the Pinus Contorta is known in some areas, is an example of these principles shown in nature. The black pine has a very tightly sealed pine cone that opens when exposed to very high heat. So that when a forest fire comes, when the underbrush is burned away, when the soil is fertilized by ash, that is when the black pine throws its seeds to begin new life. However, when forest fires are completely prevented, stands of black pine grow old, and are not replenished as they die. These trees not only use something we would usually only think to avoid, but actually need to pass through the flames to grow strong.

     (If you want more information about this tree, because learning is fun, click here)

What do the letters mean?

    MA - Master of Arts in something. Usually that means 2 years of school after college

    PsyD - A doctorate of psychology or counseling. This is a practical, practice based degree that is 4-6 years of education after a Master’s or 4 year college degree. Some PsyD holders focus on counseling services, and others on testing. They are generally Licensed Clinical Psychologists, and/or Licensed Professional Counselors.

    PhD - Doctor of philosophy. This usually is for Clinical Psychologists, and sometimes counselors. This is a 4-7 year degree after college, and is generally focused on conducting original research.

    LPC - Licensed Professional Counselor, this is the “family doctor” of the mental health world. They have a degree and training centered on the practical work of providing mental health counseling, or “talk therapy” to a wide range of clients. This is arguably the broadest license in the mental health world.

    LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  Generally the LCSW has an “Outward In” approach, with a somewhat greater focus on an individual’s place in society. Whereas the LPC has an “Inward Out” approach, focusing more on the person’s inner experience. Pragmatically the LCSW is very similar to an LPC, and there is a huge degree of overlap in type of work done.    

    LMFT - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. This is similar to an LPC, but with a specialization in providing therapy to couples, partners, and families. This therapy generally focuses on the family system/structure and communication.  

    CSAC- Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. This is a certification that represents significant additional training to what is required for an LPC, LCSW, or LMFT for the treatment of substance use disorders. 

    Clinical Psychologist - Most military talk therapy services are offered by clinical psychologists, but in the private sector they primarily work in hospitals, run programs, or focus on various forms of testing. If you need a diagnosis for legal reasons or for an IEP, a clinical psychologist is a good place to start. Testing can also provide very useful information for treating or accommodating for a disorder. A Clinical Psychologist with a PsyD is more likely to have a counseling focus, and a PhD is more likely to have a testing or administrative focus.

    Psychiatrist - This is a medical doctor with a focus on psychiatric medication. A psychiatrist is the best place to go if you are in need of medication to help with your mental health issues. They often work with other mental health professionals as part of an overall treatment team.

    PMHNP: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. This is a Registered Nurse who has completed post-graduate work with a concentration in psychiatry and pharmacology and is licensed to diagnose and treat mental health conditions and prescribe medications. 

    PCP: Primary Care Provider. This is the health care practitioner that focuses on general medical care, and the person people go to for annual physicals or other general care. They are often the first person to prescribe psychiatric medications, and refer people to mental health counseling. 

    DNP: Doctorate Nurse Practitioner. This is a Registered Nurse with a doctorate degree as a Nurse Practitioner. They are licensed to diagnose and treat medical conditions, including psychiatric conditions, and prescribe medications.