General Information About Counseling And Psychotherapy

By:  Mentor Research Institute
Revised: May 21, 2014

There is some general information you should be aware of when you seek counseling or psychotherapy. 

  • Counseling and therapy can be helpful for most situations involving psychological, emotional, relationship, parenting, family and employment problems.

  • There is significant risk of harm to your health, well being, reputation, personal freedom and future if you participate in psychotherapy or counseling with an unlicensed unsupervised person.

  • You will get more out of therapy if you are informed, educate yourself and take an active (rather than passive) role in finding and selecting your counselor or psychotherapist.

  • Most problems require a minimum of 3 to 6 months of counseling or psychotherapy to produce a lasting benefit. Very few problems or conditions require more than 1 year.   In most cases, psychotherapy is self-limiting for most major disorders and problems.  However, many people will continue therapy or counseling for personal growth, relapse prevention and for support for more than a year.

  • Medications for emotional and psychological problems should be avoided unless (a) they are medically necessary, (b) there is no other acceptable alternative, and (c) the risk of taking (or not taking) medications is fully understood.

  • The risk associated with competent counseling or psychotherapy is usually minimal, but can vary depending on the problem or situation.  Your counselor or psychotherapist should be able to explain the risks.

  • A patient or client’s right to confidentiality is normally protected under State law.  There are a few legal and ethical situations in which confidentiality is not absolute or cannot be maintained.  You should ask for and review your counselor or psychotherapist's policy statement that describes these situations.  The limits and exceptions regarding confidentiality will vary between professions and between different licenses.

  • access to health care

  • life insurance

  • health insurance

  • compensation associated with a disability, injury or stress claim

  • compensation for unlawful employment practices

  • certain types of employment

  • proper medical care