Interest in therapy has soared since the beginning of the pandemic, and year three of battling COVID-19 brings unique challenges.
Just when people had settled into working from home and moving some social activities online, mask mandates largely ended and some companies are expecting workers back in the office, either full time or in a hybrid format.
Dealing with pandemic depression, isolation and anxiety about reintegrating can be made easier through counseling. Here’s an overview of therapeutic approaches, how to pick a therapist, offerings in Belleville and how to pay for therapy.
What kind of therapy is right for you?
Therapy is a personal experience, and no one approach works for everyone. You don’t necessarily have to choose a method to find a therapist, but it can be helpful because therapists generally have specialties and practice a few forms of therapy. Here’s some therapeutic approaches and what they mean.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help those with anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, alcohol and drug use, marital problems and other issues. This treatment typically focuses on changing behaviors or patterns of thinking that are problematic to your mental health and ability to function day to day. CBT sometimes involves homework and centers on empowering clients to become their own therapists.
It is important to note that as with other approaches, there are those who doubt the effectiveness of CBT for everyone. Some of the reasons people don’t like CBT are that the practice doesn’t focus on family history or institutions that cause problematic behaviors. It instead places the responsibility solely on the client in changing their behavior.
Proponents of CBT cite evidence of its ability to mitigate anxiety disorders, bulimia, somatoform disorders, anger problems and stress.
Humanistic therapy focuses not on a client’s problems, but on a supportive and equal relationship between client and therapist. This is a client-centered model emphasizing finding fulfillment and purpose in life, in part through mindfulness.
The psychodynamic approach is built around the idea that self-exploration and reflection can reveal truths about the psychological origins of emotional suffering. This type of talk therapy creates a relationship between client and therapist that can serve as a healthy model for a client’s relationship patterns. A major study on psychodynamic therapy found overall symptom improvement in clients increased nine or more months after concluding therapy services.
Narrative therapy honors a client as the expert on their own life, separating the individual from their problems. It empowers a person to problem-solve and externalize their issues. This method prioritizes the client’s agency and is non-blaming.
Somatic experiencing aims to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, symptoms by focusing on how trauma affects the body. Specifically, the practice involves reprogramming survival instincts and restoring the sense of safety that may have been lost from a traumatic experience. Another form of treatment designed for those with PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
Other popular therapeutic approaches include family counseling, mindfulness-based stress reduction, couples therapy and holistic or integrative therapy.
How can you overcome anxiety or stigma about starting therapy?
Christopher Vollmer, licensed clinical social worker and owner and lead therapist of Covered Bridge Counseling in Belleville, said it can be helpful to talk with a friend who has participated in counseling of some kind and hear about their experience.
“Really, what counseling is, it’s just this unique relationship that does not exist outside of the counseling room where you have this confidential space to kind of come and discuss your life, kind of analyze things and think about how you can be more intentional with the things you do, honor yourself in a more authentic way,” Vollmer said. “And you can have a support person there who will listen to you and offer maybe some guidance and some support.”
For those who have been in therapy before but didn’t have a positive experience, Vollmer said to keep trying and remember therapy is personal and you may have just not clicked with your therapist.
“Not all counselors are a good fit for all people,” Vollmer said. “I think with counseling once you get above a certain level of competence as a counselor, a lot of it is personality fit. I could go to someone who is a very good and competent counselor, but just feel like we don’t mesh well.”
How can you pick a therapist?
A good place to start is Psychology Today. This website allows you to search for a therapist in your area.
You can filter results by issues the counselor specializes in, what insurance they take, their gender, what therapeutic approaches they practice, preferred client age, price, language, faith, ethnicity focuses and sexual orientation.
When you search Psychology Today, you will find a list of therapists with their photo, contact information, whether their services are online or in person, if they’re currently accepting new clients, their biography and what licenses they hold.
How can you pay for therapy?
First, check with your insurance company to find out what mental health services are covered under your plan if you have one. You can use the insurance filter on Psychology Today to make sure you find therapists who take that insurance.
Another option is private pay, which does not use insurance. Vollmer said you typically need a mental health diagnosis for your insurance to cover therapy, but many plans are flexible and consider circumstances such as life transitions in evaluating coverage. If your insurance plan still won’t cover therapy or you prefer not to bill through your insurance, you can utilize a private pay option.
Sliding scale models allow clients to pay a portion of therapy’s normal cost based on the client’s income. This is a more accessible option for those whose insurance doesn’t pay for their sessions, clients with less expendable income and college students. Check with your therapist and ask if they offer a sliding scale.
What options are available in Belleville?
There are quite a few counseling options in the Belleville area, and you can reach out to see who’s accepting new clients.
Vollmer said he is licensed to practice in Missouri and Illinois, and many other local therapists are also licensed in both states, so you can find care no matter where you live.
Here are some Belleville area therapy services:
- Covered Bridge Counseling: You can use this online contact form to email Vollmer with Covered Bridge Counseling. He said he is at about his limit for clients currently, but if he’s not available, he may be able to refer you to other therapists in Belleville.
- Carmel D. Brown: Brown is a licensed clinical professional counselor in Belleville who is accepting new clients as of March 1. Her specialties include mood disorders, family conflict and obesity, and she aims to empower clients to take control of their own lives. Brown can be reached at 618-717-2732.
- Sound Mind Counseling: Stephanie Arzavala-Reed is accepting new clients through Sound Mind Counseling, and she is a licensed clinical professional counselor. She offers online and in-person therapy in Belleville, with flexible hours. Arzavala-Reed specializes in anxiety, depression and relationship issues, and she also provides premarital and marital counseling for communication and conflict-resolution skills. Contact Arzavala-Reed at 708-295-3717.
- Simply Graceful Consulting: Keisha Brown, MSW, offers online therapy for those struggling with anxiety, addiction and codependency. She counsels in areas such as anger management, career counseling, coping skills, parenting, stress and spirituality. Brown can be reached at 618-227-7345.
- Leanne Sellers: Sellers is a licensed clinical social worker in Illinois who specializes in coping skills, grief and life transitions. She offers CBT and accepts insurance. Contact Sellers at 618-486-1446 for a free, 15-minute consultation.