Frequently Asked Questions

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Rev. Heath Can Help!

Let’s get the obvious questions out of the way from the get go:

What is Professional Pastoral Counseling?

Technically, any counseling done by a pastor is pastoral counseling. However, Professional Pastoral Counseling is a type of counseling which is conducted by a therapist who has been trained in both in psychotherapy and religious studies. Often it is done by a clergy person who has also been licensed as a therapist.

What is different about a Professional Pastoral Counselor?

Training. Obviously one difference is that pastoral counselors are trained in theology but there is also another important distinction in their clinical preparation. While all licensed therapists are trained in the techniques of counseling, only Certified Pastoral Counselors have undergone their own extensive and in-depth therapy as part of their education. This requirement means that when you talk with me, you know that I have sat in your seat. I haven’t just learned about counseling from graduate schools but from my own personal therapy as well.

Is Professional Pastoral Counseling Religious Counseling, Christian Counseling, Bible Based Counseling ?

No. Although Pastoral Counseling is informed by Christian and other religious traditions and may draw upon Biblical stories and metaphors, it is guided by the science of psychology and not by religious dogma or doctrine.

What does Pastoral Counseling do that secular therapies do not?

That depends. Some folks feel more comfortable speaking in terms of faith than psychology. A Pastoral Counselor speaks both languages and can translate therapeutic dynamics into the language of faith.

Also, some emotional problems are not due to psychopathology or mental illness. Some serious issues are simply due to difficult life transitions like marriage, births, divorce, loss of jobs, illness and death. Counseling in these areas is not about fixing or finding a solution but with coping and finding meaning in the midst of change and loss.

Note Bene: Pastoral Counseling assumes a fundamental compatibility with religious faith.

Can I really talk to a minister and be honest about sensitive issues like sex or other embarrassing topics?

Yes… but I understand why some may not think so. Given the judgmental and intolerant media image of the clergy, it is understandable that one may feel reluctant to talk to a minister about embarrassing topics.

To be honest, some ministers are not good resources for talking over sexual problems because, frankly, many are not comfortable with the subject. Some clergy have difficulty being direct, honest and keeping it “real”.

I have spent many years in training to become a Fellow in the American Association Pastoral Counselors, an organization which combines the studies of psychotherapy and spirituality. I appreciate the importance of hearing each client without criticizing or imposing my personal, religious or moral biases onto the conversation. Indeed, understanding a person’s experience and not judging it is the keystone of my therapeutic approach.

More specifically, human sexuality is one of my professional specialties and I have become well known through my TV segments for being an “ask-able” therapist.

As a psychotherapist, it is important to know that I am very experienced and have worked with many individuals and couples who have had problems with sex.

Finally, with respect to embarrassment, it has been my experience that clients can overcome their initial embarrassment and talk freely about issues they may have never spoken about before. Further, I have found that once it is understood that it is okay to talk about things which were once felt to be taboo or dirty, clients have a powerful and liberating experience.

If you have any further concerns that you would like to explore, I will be glad to assist you.

Here Are Some Other Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know when it is time to get help?

In general, if you’ve been thinking about getting help for a while and the thought persists, it’s a good thing to check it out. It only takes a phone call. Through the course of an initial phone conversation a basic assessment can be obtained to see if further evaluation is warranted. There is no charge for this call. Another way to answer the question is for you to ask yourself if the problem you’re wondering about is interfering in a significant way with your life. For example, if you can’t sleep and are becoming very fatigued. If you are so sad you can’t concentrate on anything but committing suicide or if you have gotten so angry, drunk, ____ fill in the blank, that you are in danger of losing your marriage, job, friendship etc., don’t hesitate. There is help.

Do you have to be crazy to see a counselor?

Words like “crazy” are part of the cultural stigma which some still associate with mental health services. Unfortunately this stigma has created a serious impediment for those who seek treatment. It is sort of like thinking that one only would go to a doctor if one had a serious cancer. Counseling is helpful for those facing a wide range of life problems whether those problems are emotional, relational or of some other nature.

What is the difference between a counselor, psychotherapist and a psychiatrist?

The terms counselor and psychotherapist may be used interchangeably; however a psychotherapist may be a person who is specially trained to treat emotional disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in treating the medical aspects of emotional disorders (neurology and psycho pharmacology) and is one who specializes in prescribing and managing medication therapy.

How much does it cost?

The full fee for sessions is $150. For those unable to afford the full fee, a client’s fees are determined on an ability to pay scale. The minimum fee is $50 per session.

How long does it take?

The length of treatment varies depending on the nature of the problem and its severity. The span varies from a few sessions to a few years.

What methods do you employ in your counseling approach?

The type of treatment is dictated by the diagnosis. I am skilled at a variety of approaches including dynamic or insight oriented, cognitive, supportive/ empathy based, psycho-educational, communications, as well as systems therapy. Specific techniques for the treating of specific disorders such as sexual dysfunction, relaxation and phobias are also employed as needed.

Is your approach "solution focused" or "short term"?

If the client’s problem is simple in nature, the fastest acting and most effective remedy will be used. Many psychological problems, however, are complex and require time for a comprehensive and lasting solution.

Pine Ridge is committed exclusively to the highest quality of care for each of its clients. Pine Ridge is committed to treating and providing care for the whole person and the underlying problem not simply to eliminating surface level symptoms. While relieving pain is an important goal for any treatment, pastoral counseling is also committed to addressing the underlying cause of the problems as well.

What about insurance?

Pine Ridge accepts all insurances however the BC/BS Network and all of its affiliates and Medicaid and Medicare do not currently reimburse LMHC or AAPC Fellows.

Is what I say to a counselor confidential?

All client information is confidential under the federal HIPAA. However there are two exceptions to this rule which are not protected: information about the imminent risk of suicide or homicide.

Where are your offices located?

Our offices are located in Fayetteville and Syracuse NY.

Are there any forms to fill out before the first appointment?

It depends. If you would like to spend more time on your problem and less on paperwork in your first session, then you may download, print and fill out the customary client forms.

  • Client Information
  • HIPPA
  • Insurance Information
  • Confidential Release

Click here to download the forms

When do you see clients and do you have evening and weekend appointments?

Appointments are made based on availability. The times range from Monday – Friday from mornings at 9:00a.m until 6:40 p.m.

If you’re having trouble with…

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • PTSD
  • Sexuality
  • Separation / Divorce
  • Grieving & Loss
  • Pornography
  • Love & Attraction
  • Spirituality
  • Modern Culture
  • Stress & Coping
  • Weight Loss
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • OCD
  • Anger Management
  • Self Esteem
  • Assertiveness
  • ADHD
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Sex
  • Lack of Desire
  • Affairs
  • In-laws

Blog & Video Archives

Click here for my recent and past Mental Health postings.