Many times our emotional or mental issues are subconscious, yet our bodies send us signals in the form of headaches, migraines, stomach pain or issues, muscle twitches, insomnia, increased sleepiness, and more obvious signs like an “anxious” or nervous feeling. When the more subtle signs are ignored, our bodies send stronger signals that are often the first ones we recognize, in the form of depression, anxiety attacks, feeling out of control, or just knowing something is not “right.” Even then, people try to fix their problems on their own without the help of someone trained in counseling, and often find their symptoms quickly worsening.
When do you know it’s time to seek help?That is an entirely personal question that only you can answer. However, we have never experienced someone saying “I wish I wouldn’t have come in for counseling.” In fact, we hear the opposite – “I wish I would have come in sooner!” Choosing to focus on your mental well-being is not only a smart choice, but is also a sign of strength rather than admitting a weakness. It takes courage to say that you are ready to look at your life and make active changes. No matter what brings you in the door, you will leave feeling empowered and with new tools to help you cope with whatever you are currently facing in life.
Ponte Vedra Counseling offers a wide range of services for individuals seeking help.
In individual therapy, our focus is to resolve whatever brings you in to counseling, as well as uncovering other areas in your life where we may be able to help you create lasting improvement. The first step is to help you identify the goals you seek to accomplish. Using a variety of therapeutic techniques, we help you move through the process of resolving known issues as well as possibly identifying unknown or hidden blocks to your own happiness and life fulfillment. Our ultimate goal is to enable you to progress forward with freedom and joy in your life.
Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves all members of a nuclear family or stepfamily and, in some cases, members of the extended family (e.g., grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles). The goal of family therapy is to help family members improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle special family situations (for example, death, serious physical or mental illness, or child and adolescent issues), and create a better functioning home environment. For families with one member who has a serious physical or mental illness, family therapy can educate individuals within the family unit about the illness and work on problems associated with care of the family member. For children and adolescents, family therapy most often is used when the child or adolescent has a mood, anxiety, or personality disorder that impairs their family and social functioning. Other reasons for initiating family therapy might also be a newly created stepfamily, a divorce, or the death of a family member or close friend. Family therapy is also helpful in creating more effective communication patterns if there is a lot of fighting or anger within the home. Families with members from a mixture of racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as families made up of same-sex couples who are raising children, may also benefit from family therapy in helping to adjust to societal pressures or prejudices unfairly placed upon them.
Relationship counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. There are many common themes as to why couples seek counseling, but no two couples are exactly alike – just like no two people are exactly alike. A solid and trusting partnership requires both parties to care more about the relationship than about winning an argument. And, although couples counseling is often started with what one person might want different about his or her partner, what both parties will come to realize is that it takes two committed individuals willing to look at themselves as much as their partners. Statistics show that over 60 percent of marriages end in divorce, and yet many of the reasons for divorce or couples splitting up are completely preventable. Relationship counseling offers couples a safe place to discuss difficult issues with a non-biased and trained mediator whose only goal is to improve the quality of the relationship. Couples will learn tools for more effective communication, anger and conflict resolution, and ways to express their emotions in positive ways.
In today’s modern world filled with technology, social media, higher than ever educational standards and pressures, and hectic fast-paced lifestyles, adolescents are easily overwhelmed with all the things being thrown at them on a daily basis. Developmentally, they are going through major physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that drastically affect their behaviors and thoughts. It is a time when they want to explore their worlds without as much parental control, yet still need their parents to provide a loving and safe haven. It is a time when parents feel extremely challenged, as their teens are experiencing strong emotions ranging from stress, failure, and rejection to shame, anger, and sadness. Adolescent/Teen counseling may be both individual counseling for the adolescent as well as some family therapy when it may be helpful to bridge communication gaps and create better understanding. While not many teens may express initial excitement or joy about attending counseling, most find it helps tremendously in their relationships with their parents as well as coping with school or peer pressures.
Areas of Expertise
We offer professional help in all of the following areas.
Adjustment and Change
Behavioral Problems with Children/Adolescents
Borderline Personality Disorder
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder
GLBTQ issues and support
Grief and Loss Life Adjustments
Health and Balance
Sex Therapy (couples)
Suicide Information & Prevention
Trauma and PTSD
Frequently Asked Questions
Many of your common questions answered here.
When should someone seek counseling?
Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, conflict, grief, and anxiety at varying times throughout their lives. Because of this, it is difficult to know when to seek professional help vs. feeling like it is temporary and resolvable on your own. More often than not, people do not seek help as often as they should, which may intensify symptoms and can lead to further psychological issues and emotional stress. While the average individual will experience psychological distress at some point during their lifetime, only about 45-50% of those individuals seek help.
There are many reasons why people put off counseling – time, money, a stigma attached to “needing help,” or lack of family support during the process. However, your mental health is equally as important as your physical health, and just as you would not avoid seeing a cardiologist for heart issues, your mental well-being deserves equal emphasis as well. If you find yourself repeating the same thoughts in relation to fears, anxiety, sadness, or other issues, it is probably time to seek help.
What can I expect?
With any therapist, you can and should expect to be treated with kindness, an open mind, nonjudgment, empathy, and a safe environment to express any and all thoughts without regard to how it will be perceived by the therapist. The relationship, unlike friendships or family, is one-directional. You should not be concerned with pleasing your therapist, or worrying about how he or she will feel about anything you might say. Instead, the therapeutic environment is one where you should feel completely at home to express your thoughts and fears and know that you will be treated with respect and dignity at all times, no matter what choices you have made in the past or will make in the future.
Is the information I share completely confidential?
Please refer to the document entitled “Notice of Privacy Policies and Limits of Confidentiality” for a full explanation of your legal and ethical rights as it pertains to confidential information.
How many sessions will I need?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. It is entirely dependent on you, what you are seeking in counseling, and what you are hoping to gain. For some clients, we are able to reach solutions in a relatively brief timeframe. Other issues require more time to fully unbundle and understand what will provide sustainable change. Insurance companies often limit the number of sessions based on a diagnosis and generally it is far fewer than what will be helpful in the long run. Please see the question pertaining to insurance, below, for more information on managed care restraints. Because Ponte Vedra Counseling & Wellness focuses on the individual and not on a diagnosis, your treatment plan will be fully customizable as determined by you and your psychotherapist.
What is the process like?
There are several stages to the counseling process, and people move through them at different paces depending on their own personalities, the severity and/or number of issues, and commitment. While there are often unexpected twists and turns that may arise, the typical experience might look like the following: initial discussion of current issues, an in-depth exploration of how/why a person is where s/he is and other environmental contributors to mental well-being, uncovering of other issues perhaps not known at the initialization of counseling, gaining understanding and awareness, and a commitment to action.
To achieve success in counseling there has to be an agreed upon partnership and collaboration between the client and the therapist. In fact, the therapeutic relationship is extremely important – if you do not feel you connect well with a therapist, consider trying someone else. A good therapeutic alliance is founded upon trust, respect, and unconditional empathy. Lastly, it is not an easy road. It takes work to achieve sustainable change, consisting of time, energy, and both financial and emotional commitment. It is normal to experience some psychological distress during the process, with the expectation that this will decrease over time and eventually lead to happiness and an overall improved outlook on life.
How much do sessions cost?
The initial intake session is $125, and will last between 60 - 90 minutes. This session requires a bit longer than the traditional session. In the intake session, crucial background information is gathered as well as a full description of current stressors. While the initial session will not uncover all that may need to be addressed, it is a critical time for the psychotherapist to gather pertinent information that will guide treatment.
Subsequent sessions are $95 and generally last 50 minutes. As psychotherapists we are mandated by law to document certain things about our sessions, and the last 10 minutes are used for this as well as treatment planning. There are times where we may go over the allotted time by a few minutes. You will not be billed for this additional time as long as it does not exceed 60 minutes.
Our psychotherapists are available via email and text for the purposes of booking appointments. There are times that you and your therapist may correspond briefly outside of therapy, and if it is limited, this will not constitute therapy time. However, if it becomes excessive, this time will be billed in 15 minute increments based upon the $95 hourly rate.
Why do you not accept insurance?
This is a lengthy but important answer that will help guide you when you are looking for a licensed, professional therapist. Many clinicians have responded to the extreme restraints of managed care by making the difficult decision to not accept insurance – for the good of their clients, not themselves. Here are the things we want you to know and understand about insurance coverage and therapy:
- Your therapist MUST diagnose you with something, to be reimbursed. Managed care has forced a “medical model” for mental well-being, meaning you must be labeled with an illness or disorder. You cannot go to therapy for couples counseling, grief, going through a difficult time, or many other common reasons to seek therapy and have your insurance reimburse your therapist. Instead, you will be labeled with “Anxiety Disorder,” “Major Depressive Disorder,” and the like, and this diagnosis will be a part of your official record, permanently, which can affect future employment, future health coverage, or having no coverage at all.
- Your records are not protected. Your insurer may audit your records at any time, and this may be a claims specialist, a human resources specialist, or a myriad of others who have clearance at the company to review records. Human eyes = potential breaches of confidentiality. It happens…more often than we would like.
- Your care is dictated by the insurer, not your therapist – or you. Insurance companies demand a detailed and regimented treatment plan for every single client, and for each diagnosis, they already have a certain number of sessions they will cover – generally far fewer than what most therapists agree are acceptable and reasonable. To put it simply, this means that your therapist is working for the insurance company, not you. You are going to therapy to be treated like an individual whose needs are unique, not to be treated like a number on an assembly line. Just like in medical claims, the insurance company’s primary goal is to not pay, or to severely limit payment. This model is certainly not in the best interest of your mental health and well-being.
Without the limits of managed care, that leaves treatment up to you and your therapist – exactly where it should be. Additionally, clinical records are maintained solely for the purposes of the client, not a third party – and will never be released to a third party without the client’s written consent. This is protected by law. Lastly, you will never be diagnosed at Ponte Vedra Counseling & Wellness. While we may discuss various mental disorders in relation to you or family members as part of an overall understanding, we ultimately believe that labels are useless – and in many cases, harmful. You are not a summary of a series of codes – you are a human being and deserve to be treated as such.