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Trinity Associates of Northern Michigan
Partners in Quality Christian Mental Health Services
Trinity Associates
2810 Charlevoix Avenue, Suite 106
Petoskey, Michigan 49770

John Grebe, PsyD
Petoskey Behavioral Health
516 Mitchell St.
Petoskey, MI
Ph. 231.347.5034

Timothy Strauss, MA
Joy Valley Counseling
2810 Charlevoix Avenue, Suite 106
Petoskey, MI

Common Questions

Is therapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.

Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

What is therapy like? 

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician?

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken

Therapy for Couples--What's the best way to begin? (by Jim Marshall)

Getting yourself in the door to begin marital therapy is often tricky. What do you do if your partner seems unwilling to go for help? Or, perhaps your partner might be willing to go to therapy with you, but you feel the need to go alone to the first session. You may desire time alone with the therapist to safely disclose concerns about abuse or other serious risks, or to sort out your feelings, perhaps to be sure the therapist understands you, or to explore your options without your spouse present. When is it wise to come alone first?  There are no "one-size-fits-all answers to these questions. But fortunately there are a couple principles that guide us to making wise choices in how we begin with therapy. Here they are... 


 I usually recommend that both husband and wife come together to the initial session. Why? To avoid the risk of alienating the other partner from the therapy process. So, if there is any chance that your spouse would be willing to join you for marital therapy, I would encourage you to consider inviting him or her to join you for the first session. (However, I am always supportive of a spouse coming in alone if there is abuse or a safety issue: that is if you feel there is a threat to your life, wellbeing, or the partners’ that will be most wisely and effectively dealt with in their absence.)


So, typically, marital therapy begins with a "joint session", that is, I see the couple together first for a 2 hour session. This format and length of the session gives both partners a chance to teach me about the background of the relationship, to share their individual perspectives of the problem and then to share their opinions about each other’s perspectives. This information provides the therapist with a more complete picture to effectively plan treatment. The double session (two 50-minute blocks) also affords you, the client, a chance to get a better sense of who I am as a therapist and person. So, when you leave the session you are walking out with a more clear "game plan" for your upcoming therapy. 


The Principle behind the idea of both partners coming together is this: it is essential to preserve the integrity of the therapist’s role as a neutral party here to help you both. If a spouse is willing to come to the first session but he is left out, he is apt to conclude that the therapist is now on the side of the spouse who came first alone to treatment. And since men are often wary of therapy as it is, we certainly don't want to feed that fear.


However, if you have asked your partner to join you for the first session and he or she is unwilling, then by all means, come alone. Here is one effective way to invite a hesitant spouse to join you. Use it or revise it to fit:

We both know we have been struggling. I know I have a part in this and I am willing to learn and do my part, whatever that is. We have been trying to make things better but I think we need to experiment at least once getting some counseling together. I know of a marriage therapist who is highly recommended as being fair and effective. His (or her) name is….Will you join me for at least for just one session.


Coming to Therapy Alone: some exceptions and how to do it right

Perhaps your partner is willing to join you but you feel a strong need to meet solo with the therapist before involving your spouse. In this case it is best to tell him or her upfront. Be sure to emphasize that "... the therapist is willing to see us each alone in a session once but then would want to see us together.” This is essential so that your spouse knows that as a therapist I will respect you both and will work to assure I hear both your perspectives. Having shared this message with your spouse, you can offer him or her the option of going first or second to come see me for an initial solo session. Usually this is enough to assure the spouse that your interest in seeing me individually isn’t just to complain and get “the upper hand with the therapist…”


Individual Sessions

The goal of the individual assessment session is for you to teach me more about your personal background, how you tend to think, make decisions, manage emotions, deal with stress, and relate to other people. (We also want to rule out any struggles you might have with anxiety, trauma, depression, anger, self-medicating, etc.) During this time if you feel there are urgent marital issues you need to address, do share them. And, this individual assessment helps us to develop trust as client and therapist. This is essential to help you feel confident in tackling ,emotionally loaded issues and to accept the challenge of looking at areas in which you might need to change.


Once the assessment process is complete (that is, the joint session and these individual sessions with each spouse) we can build a trustworthy treatment plan and begin the therapy work. And remember that the Journey into Love interactive multimedia training for Couples is a great way to shorten the length of your marital therapy as you build skills and crucial knowledge as a couple right from home. For more information visit www.JourneyIntoLove.com.