Mena O'Connor, MSW, LCSW

Proven Approaches to Therapy


How long and how many times a week is a typical session?

Sessions are usually 45 minutes. Most clients are seen once or twice a week in the beginning, then, as time goes on, less frequently. The number of sessions depends on what your current needs are.

How do I know if therapy is right or appropriate for me?

There are a host of reasons that people seek therapy, many more than we can list here. Let me just mention a few things that often brings people to seek therapy: losing interest or pleasure in activities they use to enjoy, trouble sleeping, difficulties in social settings, sadness, depression, life changing events (e.g. divorce, unemployment), body image issues, or overcoming addictions.

Why should I seek a therapist, can’t I just get over this, won’t my issues just go away on their own?

There is no definitive answer to this. Yes, there is a chance that naturally you will overcome whatever event or issue is bothering you. However, there is likely a better chance that it may just get replaced with something else, and whatever is at the root cause will not just go away on its own. Examine how long you’ve been bothered by this, has it been days, weeks, months, or years?

I have a great support system of friends and family, they help me get through anything. Doesn’t it seem odd to go to a stranger for help with such private, personal things?

This is a concept I hear a lot. My follow-up question to this might be, “how would this friend or partner react to the idea of you seeking therapy”? You might be surprised by the answer. I always say that therapy is the best gift you can give yourself, and your loved ones. Your friends and family should not be your own personal therapy team, nor can they really provide you that unbiased ear that comes from a trained professional. Therapy is an opportunity to return your relationships back to fun, friendship, and mutual respect. If you are spending all your time unloading personal hardships and pain on your friends and family, you are at risk for harming these relationships.

How long will I be in counseling?

The length of time a client is in counseling depends the nature of the problem and the goals of the counseling. Some clients have a very specific problem that can be worked through in a set course of counseling. For others, counseling is an on-going learning process and they choose to receive counseling for a longer period.

What if I want couples counseling, but my partner won't come?

Unfortunately, sometimes one partner is not as willing as the other to come in for counseling. However, we often find that it is possible to improve the relationship with just one person involved in counseling.

How much are your Fees and do you take insurance?

Fees are collected at the time of your appointment. There is no fee for appointments canceled 24 hours in advance. I accept cash or check only. The decision to submit claims for reimbursement to your insurance company is a personal decision; and its important for the patient to have complete control over this decision. However, involving your insurance company means that you are given a psychological diagnosis and this becomes part of your permanent medical record.

Do I need to take medications?  What if I’m taking medication for some mental issues, do I still need therapy?

As a counselors and therapists, we are not legally allowed to prescribe medications. However, based on a joint assessment of problems you are facing, it may be advisable to consult with a psychiatrist to determine whether medication is warranted. Research shows that in many cases a combination of psychiatric medication and therapy can often produce the best results. Talking to your psychiatrist about your goals is very important. Is the medication something you will expect to take for a lifetime, or is it just temporary? Whether its temporary or more permanent, you need to think about your long-term plan for mental health wellness, which is when a therapist could be very useful. This is a perfect topic to discuss with your psychiatrist.

Mena O'Connor, MSW, LCSW
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