not your average care

FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions


How do I know if I need psychotherapy? Top
Psychotherapy can help individuals resolve a variety of problems in living. Stress, nervousness, persistent sadness (depression), conflicts with others, work adjustment problems, and parenting concerns are some of the issues and symptoms addressed in psychotherapy . Individuals often need more help than can be provided by their friends, family or clergyperson, and find it helpful to talk with a professional therapist who can provide a trained and objective view and offer effective means toward positive change. A psychotherapist can help individuals understand themselves better, improve their ability to make important life decisions, and achieve increased life satisfaction.
The best way to make the decision to enter psychotherapy is to schedule an appointment with a qualified psychologist or social worker and discuss what you want to accomplish. A good therapist will tell you if you need psychotherapy, and will talk with you about ways that therapy can or cannot help.
Research on therapy outcomes shows that therapy is better than no therapy, and that therapy combined with medication can produce greater and more lasting benefit than medication alone. Therefore, if you have tried medication and are still having significant levels of distress, you may want to try therapy in addition to medication.

If I think someone needs psychotherapy, how do I get him or her to try it? Top
It helps to be honest. If you are worried about someone and think that psychotherapy might help, be straightforward and tell the person about your concerns. Of course, you cannot force someone to change or to benefit from psychotherapy. Therapy works best when the patient wants to try to work on his or her problems. If someone you are close to is not willing to seek help, but their behavior is affecting you personally, you may want to consider seeking therapy for yourself, in order to help you to cope better and to understand what behaviors on your part are likely to be helpful or counterproductive.

What should I do if someone is threatening suicide? Top
Always take this seriously, even if you think the person is just seeking attention. It is a mistake to believe that a person who is talking about suicide will not do it. If someone you know is hinting at suicide, do not be afraid to question him or her about it. Many suicidal individuals are relieved when they are finally able to tell someone about their thoughts. Make sure that the person is seen as soon as possible with a therapist at your local emergency room for an evaluation.

What is the difference between therapy and self-help groups? Top
In therapy, you can expect confidentiality, and both expert and experienced guidance in working through difficulties. Self-help groups can also be helpful, but confidentiality cannot be ensured, and nonprofessional members guide the discussions. Self-help groups are often useful because individuals are able to share their experiences and resources with others having similar problems. Your therapist can help you in identifying self-help group options and evaluating their potential usefulness.

What kind of services does BHN offer besides individual therapy? Top
Because of our large number of therapists, BHN offers a wide variety of treatment modalities in addition to individual therapy. These include group, family, and couples counseling, play therapy for children and psycho-education programs in a range of specialty areas.

For what kinds of problems should I seek therapy? Top
You should consider therapy if you are experiencing fears, anxieties, depression, excessive anger or other emotions beyond the everyday ups and downs of life. Additionally, consider therapy if you are experiencing severe relationship conflicts or recurring emotions or behaviors that interfere with your functioning at work, school or home.

What are the differences between a Psychologist, a Clinical Social Worker and a Psychiatrist? Top
A psychologist holds either a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) degree. A psychologist completes coursework and supervised training in psychotherapy, research, psychological testing, and consultation. An internship and a doctoral thesis are also required. The process usually takes five years beyond the bachelor's degree. In New York, an additional 2 years of supervised clinical experience after the Ph.D. is required for licensure.
A clinical social worker holds a MSW degree (Master's Degree in Social Work). The Masters Program requires two years of study beyond the bachelor's degree. It includes both academic coursework and supervised clinical training. In addition, social workers who specialize in clinical work have six years of supervised post-master's experience in a clinical setting, such as a psychiatric facility, a community mental health agency, or a family counseling agency, and receive the LCSW designation (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).
A psychiatrist holds a M.D., or D.O. degree. A psychiatrist attends medical school, usually for four years, completes a medical internship, and then takes a psychiatry residency, which may involve an additional three years. Since psychiatrists are also physicians, they can prescribe medicine. Most psychiatrists these days specialize in pharmacology and few practice psychotherapy in addition to providing medication management.

Which type of professional is best - psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist? Top
For psychotherapy and counseling, the "best" therapist is the one who has training and experience specific to your concerns - and with whom you feel comfortable. The Therapist Profile pages of this site provide information about each BHN therapist's training and special interests.
There are special skills unique to each of the professions, however. For example, Psychologists are able to utilize psychological tests to help understand a person's problems. Social workers have expertise in utilizing community resources for additional support services to enhance treatment. Psychiatrists may prescribe medicine, since they are physicians.

Is there a BHN therapist near where I live or work? Top
Since each BHN therapist is an independent practitioner, clients have a wide variety of locations from which to choose in Western New York. There are member offices from the Northtowns to the Southtowns and within the city of Buffalo. To search for a therapist by zip code, go to: Find A Therapist

How do I make an appointment? Top
You can make an appointment by directly contacting the therapist of your choice. Simply go to:
Find A Therapist and click on the name of the therapist you are interested in contacting. All the information you need will be found on the therapist’s page. If you prefer to speak to a BHN representative over the phone, each memebers's number is listed. You might be asked to leave a brief message along with your phone number and someone from BHN will return your call shortly.

Do I need a referral from my medical doctor? Top
If you plan to have your medical insurance plan pay for some or all treatment costs, you may need to contact your insurance company or family doctor prior to the first appointment. Some HMOs and PPOs require that they be contacted prior to your first visit. The rules are different for each insurance company, and may be different for employer's programs within a given insurance company. It is a good idea to contact your insurance company to clarify its requirements. BHN therapists can often guide you regarding the requirements of your insurance company when you call for an initial appointment.

How much does it cost for treatment? Top
Most BHN therapists participate with some or all insurance plans. If the therapist participates, at least a portion of the cost of treatment will be paid for by the insurance company. In most cases you will be required to pay a co-payment, the amount of which varies by insurance company. Individuals without insurance or those who prefer to pay without using their insurance should contact the individual therapist for rates.

How long does treatment take? Top
This depends on the nature of the concerns being presented. Occasionally, a consultation for one or two visits helps a client clarify problems sufficiently to be helpful. However, when clients want to address complex problems or address lifelong behavior patterns, it requires longer treatment.

What is a Developmental Disability? Top
Five types of syndromes are grouped in this category; mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and neurological impairments. To be considered a developmental disability, symptoms must have emerged during childhood or adolescence, and the impairment must interfere significantly in the clients' day-to-day functioning. When children experience such impairments, they may not learn as many ways of coping as they might otherwise. While developmental disabilities are not "curable," there are therapeutic interventions that can help clients and their families function better and have a better quality of life.

Are there different kinds of therapy? Top
Yes. There are different therapy approaches based on the nature of the problems presented. Individual treatment is usually indicated if the problems involve a client’s inner feelings, beliefs, or behaviors that are interfering with daily functioning or life satisfaction. Group counseling is often the treatment of choice for treating clients who are experiencing difficulty with relating to others, and for specific problems for which group support is important. Couples, marital or family counseling is selected when treatment focuses on resolving conflicts and enhancing these relationships. Children often receive play therapy, which is play-based interaction with the therapist to help them express and resolve their feelings.
Within these approaches are many specific therapy techniques employed. Therapists differ somewhat in their approach and the techniques they employ. Some focus more on achieving self-understanding, others more specifically on changing maladaptive thinking, others emphasize interpersonal communication, and others concentrate more on behavior change. Most therapists use a combination of these approaches to help their clients.

How do I get help for an alcohol, drug, gambling or other addiction? Top
Some BHN therapists (see Find a Therapist ) have consultation and treatment services for persons with these addictions and/or their families. Consultation with the doctor of a patient with an alcohol or drug addiction is often important to evaluate and monitor his or her medical status. A referral to an inpatient or outpatient alcohol and drug detoxification program may be required, as may be inpatient rehabilitation.
Outpatient treatment is often best provided by licensed alcoholism/drug treatment clinics, although less advanced disorders may be treated by an individual provider. In such cases, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous self-help group attendance is usually encouraged. Individual therapists, including several BHN therapists, may also provide marital and family counseling and therapy for spouses and children to address the impact of these addictions on family functioning.
Some BHN therapists (see Find a Therapist) have considerable training and experience in working with addicted gamblers and/or their families. Gamblers Anonymous and GamAnon self-help groups can be very beneficial along with treatment. In addition, some communities may have treatment clinics for persons with gambling addictions. Treatment of gambling addictions is not covered by all insurance plans.

How does talk therapy work? Top
Talk therapy works in several ways. Through gaining greater understanding of the sources of feelings and thoughts, clients can resolve painful memories, develop more effective ways to deal with their feelings, and avoid past pitfalls. Through understanding how their thoughts and beliefs limit their potential, clients develop new coping skills and seek new possibilities. Through improved interpersonal communication, individuals, couples, and families can experience reduced conflict and enhanced relating.

How do I know if I should choose medication or counseling? Top
Both counseling and medication have benefits and risks. Counseling alone is often sufficient to meet clients' needs. However, if a person is experiencing severe symptoms, including hallucinations, the significant misinterpretation of reality, or overwhelming anxiety or depression, medications are likely necessary to stabilize the person so that he or she may benefit from counseling. Most often, though, a mental health professional can address "problems of living" through counseling without medication. Your BHN therapist will discuss the need for a medication evaluation based on your symptoms, and can assist you with accessing medication from a psychiatrist or your family doctor.

How do I pick a therapist? Top
A good therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist is extremely important for treatment to succeed. Ask friends, relatives, your physician or others for recommendations based on their experiences. You can also review the "Find a Therapist" section of this site for brief biographies of BHN therapists and their specializations. Therapy involves your sharing personal and sensitive information, so you should feel comfortable with the therapist you choose.

What is confidentiality and why is it important? Top
Confidentiality means that what is talked about in a counseling session stays private between the client and the therapist. Knowing that the conversation is private helps clients feel more comfortable in talking about sensitive personal matters. Therapists are legally required to violate confidentiality when they suspect child or elder abuse or neglect, an imminent suicide or homicide risk, or when a court order compels them to release clinical records. It should be noted that Courts rarely require the release of records, this usually involving the investigation of serious crimes.

What makes the Behavioral Healthcare Network (BHN) special? Top
Experience, quality, and range of services offered by its therapists make BHN special. BHN includes psychologists, social workers, and affiliates who, in 1994, developed an interconnected system of experienced, skillful clinicians in Western New York. With more than 500 work-years to our cumulative credit, each BHN provider is personally committed to independent practice at the highest level of professional competence and ethical standards. As a network of clinicians, we offer clients the benefits of a streamlined system to access services, and a range of high quality and comprehensive services to children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

When does a child need therapy? Top
Whether a child needs therapy depends on how severely distressed the child is, how long the distress has continued, the child's particular strengths for handling problems, and the availability of supportive relationships with adults. Although some view children as more adaptable than adults and less affected by problems, children are frequently more vulnerable to the negative impact of problems in their environment. Children often have fewer coping skills and less control over themselves and their environment. They may not be able to describe their concerns verbally, and may instead, express themselves through their behavior or by withdrawing. Their distress can be expressed through many behavioral symptoms including sleep, eating, or toileting problems; irritability or prolonged moodiness; physical complaints; personality change; disregard for their personal safety; conflicts with others; and acting younger or older than their age. Child therapists can assess the need for therapy. If recommended, the goal of therapy is to resolve symptoms and assist the child to resume his or her positive growth and development.

What if the school says my child needs help? Top
When school personnel express concern about a child, it generally means that they are observing behaviors that differ in some way from that of most other same-age children. These behaviors may differ in type, severity, or frequency. School behavioral problems may relate to the child's school environment, home environment, social environment, or factors related to all of these environments. Problems in school are often observed in impaired learning, social-emotional conflicts or defiance with peers and adults, or these problems in combination.
It is generally helpful when school personnel and parents work together to understand the nature of the problem, and jointly develop and implement a plan to make school a more successful environment for the child. The assessment of the child's learning and behavior may include the input of the school psychologist, social worker, and Child Study Team. The family may seek an independent evaluation by a consulting psychologist, and the assistance of a certified social worker as part of the family's support network. Some problems can be resolved with relatively brief interventions and combined home and school support. Others may require sustained interventions and educational support. If a disability is determined to be negatively affecting the child's educational progress, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may be established in accordance with Part 200 of the New York State Education Law. Procedures and guidelines for parents regarding their child's right to an appropriate education are readily available through the school district office.