Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a number of answers to commonly asked questions in regard to counseling, mediation and training as well as what else we do here at Innovative Alternatives. Please consult the FAQ below.

General

01 Your page says that IAI practices a ‘transformative model’ of mediation. How does IAI’s mediation model look different from other forms of mediation in practice?

IAI Mediators never coerce, suggest or persuade the parties into any item on their agreement. If parties ask us for resources, such as where to obtain a service, etc., we can provide those referrals. However, much mediation in the market today is actually ‘arbitration’ disguised and mislabeled as ‘mediation’—in which the mediators are telling the parties or their attorneys what they should do and should not do in agreements. We at IAI know that we do not go home with you to live with this agreement. Therefore, the choices should all be yours, not ours—we provide the structure for the process and you provide the content. This tactic actually creates less resistance from the parties and engenders more creativity to find solutions that work for their particular situation. Mediators who force an agreement may get something on paper, but it is sure to fall apart later from ‘buyer’s remorse’. IAI has a 98% agreement rate seldom hears back from clients that the agreement is not working.

We never judge our clients’ situation or decide who is right or wrong. It does not matter what happened in the past except as a road map to the issues that need resolution—what matters is what our clients wish to do in the present to resolve the current conflict and what they wish to do differently in the future to prevent it from happening again. Again, those who masquerade as mediators but are really arbitrating, will give opinions on who is most at fault and what offer a client should make to the other party or be willing to accept from them. That is not mediation! Don’t accept it as mediation and don’t waste your money for dissatisfaction.

IAI mediators will only invite the parties to the dispute to the mediation session. At other mediation firms attorneys are accustomed to coming to mediations and performing as active participants. Often the mediators are also attorneys and defer to them for the negotiations rather than the parties in the dispute. At IAI, you pay only the mediators rather than mediators and attorneys for the same time. At IAI, you create your agreement and you are satisfied with it or you agree not to agree—it is that simple. If your attorneys negotiate your agreement for you, how can you feel ownership of its terms? At IAI, the dynamic of mediation is not changed because the parties constantly look at their attorneys for approval before answering a question—openness and honesty is a key to mediation working. The parties deal only with each other. Your attorney is your advocate. This is his or her role. You can call them at any time on break for advice; you can wait to sign the agreement until they look it over for you, but why pay them to sit there and do nothing during a mediation session or to take over for you and change the dynamic to an arbitration session where you feel someone else is making decisions for you? If you want arbitration, have your attorney hire an arbitrator, but if you want mediation– Save time, money and frustration! Mediate with IAI! We know what mediation really is and we protect the process!

What do we need from you as a client? Simple ‘good faith’—which means that you come to sessions ready to present all the issues for which you want resolution and will remain open to hearing and considering all those presented by the other party or parties as well as the solutions you both or all bring. If we have this from all parties involved, there is no conflict that cannot be resolved with mediation!

02 What do we actually do in a session if we come to mediation?

First we have a screening/preparation session with the mediators to explain the process so you as a client can decide if this is a process you wish to use. We find out about your conflict and the people who are involved to determine whether it is a good case for mediation. If we all agree it is, the first 3-hour mediation appointment will be scheduled.

Ground rules and roles of the mediators are shared with the client(s).

Each client has uninterrupted time to discuss what the problem is in their personal perception. Mediators summarize and identify issues to be mediated from the problems described.

Each client has uninterrupted time to describe the consequences or impact to themselves, relationships and their functioning as a result of this conflict. Mediators again summarize and continue to identify issues for resolution.

Mediators may categorize multiple issues for resolution within certain categories such as ‘communication’.

Each issue or category of issues is then ‘brainstormed for potential solutions.’

Each idea generated is evaluated to determine if it is something both or all parties wish to have on their agreement. Mediators look for agreements that are fair and balanced, concrete and specific, realistic and feasible.

Once the parties complete the written agreement to resolve the current conflict and ways to prevent further conflict, the parties sign the agreement and the mediation is over.

03 How many 3-hour mediation sessions are needed to resolve disputes?

Depending on the number and nature of the conflicts, several mediation sessions might be necessary. Divorce and custody mediations average approximately 10-12 hours if children are involved. Victim Offender Mediations typically take 1 ½ to 2 hours. Personnel Grievance Mediations take an average of 3-4 hours for 2 parties, but can take more time when multiple parties are involved.

04 My partner and I are having problems because I was sexually abused when I was a child and continue to have problems in our sex life. How do I know if I should seek individual or couples counseling?

Individual Counseling is often preferred by those seeking counseling for the first time, and is sometimes needed and recommended by clinicians before couples can engage productively in family therapy due to issues brought to their relationship from their childhood or family of origin, such as child abuse. The focus is obviously on the individual, their areas of strength as well as areas for growth and reduction of dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The goal of all psychotherapy is to improve social occupational and/or academic functioning. Clients participate in setting personal goals for their own treatment. Both therapist and client monitor progress toward all these goals.

Mediation vs. Counseling

01 What is the difference between mediation & counseling?

Only counseling is applicable in individual issues, but mediation is most appropriate to stabilize crisis involving multiple parties, and making a treatment plan based on the issues. It can also provide a roadmap for counseling.

Counseling usually only involves family members, but mediation may be between 2 or more people in conflict, sometimes unrelated to each other as in victim/offender mediation.

Mediation is focused on specific topics; counseling may take many turns or tangents depending upon the style of the counselor and the number of client’s issues.

Clients in counseling may get into arguments while the counselor attempts to identify issues. Mediation does not require clients to agree, but to answer series of questions to identify what does and does not work in the relationship.

Mediators remain neutral, but counselors are not expected to remain neutral.

Progress is quick in mediation sessions, which are typically 3-4 hours in length. Counseling might takes weeks or months to get to the same level of progress that is achieved in 1 or 2 mediation sessions.

Mediation often costs more than counseling, because 2 mediators are used in co-mediation models. However, since more is accomplished in fewer weeks or months, total cost might be the same as counseling.

02 How secure is my confidentiality in counseling vs. mediation?

Licensed Psychotherapists are bound by both laws and ethics to protect your confidentiality. At IAI, counselors fight to preserve confidentiality to the extent that is allowed by law. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of the State of Texas secures confidentiality unless information discussed in the mediation sessions is discoverable outside those sessions.

There are exceptions to confidentiality. Judges often make psychotherapists testify and disclose their notes in civil litigations such as divorce and custody cases. Insurance companies have a right to your diagnosis and place this information on the Medical Information Bureau for other insurance companies to share.

Comparatively to psychotherapy, mediation is secure unless there are cases where client(s) threaten harm to self or others. Your information will also become public if you should ever choose to file a complaint or lawsuit against your provider because the law provides that they must be able to defend themselves with the details of the treatment they have provided in your case.

Bullying

01 What are the dynamics of bullying?

A bully repeatedly uses force, physical or non-physical, to shame, humiliate, and dominate a victim. As a result, the victim can become depressed, hopeless, and enraged. The bystander is the audience for the bully-victim drama. It should be noted that these are dialectically determined roles, not people, and can switch around often very rapidly. Like an audience for a play, the bully needs applause, since it increases the humiliation of the victim and makes the bully feel more powerful. In this way, the bystander enhances the bullying. The bystander role is an important and often unrecognized part of the problem and also the solution. The Bully-Bystander gets a vicarious thrill by watching the bullying. Research has shown that 10-20% of all children in grades 3 through 9 have admitted Bully-Bystander qualities. The less common Victim-Bystander is often an abused child, who is too frightened to resist the bullies’ demands for help. Avoidant bystanders are sometimes teachers who deny the existence of the problem, while ambivalent bystanders can be recruited to interrupt the power dynamic.

As children get older, the intensity of the power dynamics and the degree of humiliation, shame and rage become much greater as groups of children adopt the bully-victim-bystander roles. Competition for leadership of groups and later on as the child grows up and becomes sexually mature, gender and ethnic battles and games, all add fuel to this fire. Thus being humiliated in front of a girlfriend or being rejected by a boyfriend has very intense emotional implications, leading often to despair and humiliation and sometimes suicide, or revenge and retaliation and sometimes homicide.

02 Is all fighting bullying?

No, it is not. If two individuals of equal skill get into a fight, verbal or physical, where humiliation and harm is not an important part of the process, then that is fighting, not bullying. In young children, especially boys in the first grade, aggressiveness is sometimes a way that psychological growth is facilitated so that not all fighting and not all bad behavior in children is due to bullying. Fighting or disruptive classroom behavior does not mean that your child will necessarily become a bully. Remember, the “goal” of bullying is to draw attention to one’s power by a process of putting somebody else down. Didactically, it might also be helpful to further distinguish a violent act from bullying or fighting. Violence implies the intent to harm, thus bullying is violent, but a playground fight is not necessarily violent.

03 Is all fighting and anger abnormal?

The answer to this is unequivocally “no”. Anger is a normal emotion. It is not a pleasant emotion, it is not an emotion we enjoy, but it is perfectly normal, as is sadness or happiness, for that matter. Thus, fighting between children is not necessarily abnormal; it could be a normal outlet for children’s aggressiveness. An environment that is entirely too quiet is in many ways also abnormal. Physical contact is a way children often sublimate their energy, and anger is a way of communicating a very important mental state. Anger can be quite constructive, if people are willing to examine themselves, and the emotion is not too extreme.

04 Who are the bullies?

In elementary and middle school, typically, the schoolyard bully is a boy, usually much bigger and physically stronger than other children, although a little kid can also be a bully if motivated. In high school, bullying goes underground, is expressed more subtly, and is perpetrated equally by either gender. It should be remembered that teachers also bully students and students bully teachers, and that administrative staff, secretaries, custodians, lunchroom aides and coaches can all be part of the power dynamics triangle with each sometimes occupying Bully, Victim, or Bystander roles. It’s only by self-observation and self-awareness that such troublesome and misery-producing interactions can be stopped. It’s our opinion that if the total social climate of the school is not addressed, including not only children, but also all others working in the school, then any programs to reduce violence in schools will fail. Girls bully more indirectly by verbal attack, ostracizing and rumor mongering. In recent years, girl gang leaders have become much more physical in their desire to dominate, even in middle and elementary schools.

05 What are the major forms of bullying?

Young children tend to bully physically, but usually the physical component is not serious. If, for example, a bully seriously injures a victim, he will get blamed and the victim gets the sympathy. Most physical bullying is repeated poking, slapping, pushing, groping and shoving, to embarrass and humiliate the victim, but not cause serious injury. In elementary schools, repeated name calling, tattling, butting in line, rumors, and leaving someone out of a group are the most common bullying behaviors. Bullying incidents last only a few seconds and tend to occur in unstructured settings; hallways, bathrooms, lunchrooms, playgrounds. As children get more verbal and more skilled symbolically, then the forms of bullying become more subtle, although in many ways can be even more destructive. Verbal bullying involves the public humiliation of a victim by name calling, poking fun at a physical characteristic or disability such as stuttering, limping, blinking, or other oddity of movement, speech, or appearance. Verbal bullying can also involve racial slurs, attacks on parents, “your mother is a . . . .”, or mean comments about styles of dress, hygiene, or other “styles” of dressing or acting. There is nothing more miserable than a young teenage girl crying in her bedroom because she has been excluded from a clique by her so-called friends, or the child who becomes anorexic and bulimic because of fears of exclusion from the group of thin popular girls who are the model of attractiveness to boys. Ostracism, excommunication and blackballing are all ways that adults humiliate and bully each other and are unfortunately institutionalized in many of our communities. We perhaps do not need to make the obvious point that children are not born bullies, but learn the pattern. Who they learn from includes parents, teachers, media and many other social influences.

06 Are bullies mentally ill?

Coercive power dynamics, or bullying tendencies, can be present in many different forms of mental illness, so bullying is not a diagnosis as such, anymore than a headache is, but instead is an expression of a dysfunctional mental state. There is no treatment for bullying, but if it continues into adult life, and the individual continues to humiliate and mock others, all sorts of interpersonal problems will result that might lead them into psychiatric care, or even prison.

Children who kill themselves or others often may have mental illness with a predisposition to loss of impulse control, but the straw that breaks the camel’s back frequently is to be the object of significant bullying and feeling of being excluded or rejected by the group to which the child by nature and right belongs. There is nothing more devastating to the human mind than being shamed and mocked by others in front of a peer group and there is no other assault that can produce homicidal or suicidal rage as easily as shaming and mockery, since being mocked is much more enraging than serious physical injury.

07 How do children learn to bully?

Children are not born to bully. Modern psychological theory suggests that human beings are not born with instincts, unlike animals, but loss of control over impulses comes mainly from responses learned during upbringing counterpoised with certain genetic pre-dispositions. Parents that express anger physically will likely produce children who tend to express anger physically. Children from homes where there is domestic violence tend to over or under-estimate violence, thus very much affecting their later relationships with others and their own children. Unfortunately, significant adults are often inadvertently a bad example to our children; we frequently ostracize those whose customs and patterns we do not like. This form of institutionalized bullying conveys the idea to children that it is alright to establish a hierarchy of “good people” and “less good outsiders” and to humiliate others. Yes, unfortunately, children learn to bully, but they can also unlearn bullying. It all depends on us, the significant adults.

About 1% of all bullies have a serious aggressive nature, in that they enjoy the pain of others. Such children tend to be rather unfeeling when they bully and are not anxious, nor is their self-esteem low. Such children often have serious problems with criminal behavior later, and can become quite abusive. Obviously, most bullies do not necessarily grow up to commit crimes or abuse other people, since we all have been bullies, victims, and bystanders!

08 Are children who complain about bullying just whining and don’t they ask for it anyway?

There are a variety of types of bullies and victims. The bully-victim is a child who tends to provoke trouble and then begins to feel very sorry for themselves when they are attacked. Such provocative children can become despairing very quickly, especially if their peers and teachers and those in charge do not pay attention to the extent of the humiliation. Sometimes people just don’t pay attention to it because it isn’t very physically serious. There probably never was a statement less true than, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Girl victims sometimes in high school develop a pattern of dating that often paradoxically attaches them to bullying boys. They sometimes feel as though they have to rescue their macho bullying boyfriends, who are seen as “a really good boy underneath”. Sometimes, children may even become martyrs, as if it is a greater cause to support the boy against all who do not like or understand him. These complex relationships are part of forms of lovesickness or crush. Whether or not children “ask for it” in the sense of acting to encourage it makes no more sense as a justification for bullying than it does to say that because a victim of sexual harassment, including rape, is sexually aroused or even seductive, that they asked for it.

09 What makes a child a target for bullying?

The key behavioral ingredient for being a victim is SUBMISSIVENESS. A bully quickly picks small, shy, frail, or whiny children who are loners. A bully needs to feel in control and requires that the victim provide the bystanders a show of shame or humiliation. Victims are made to feel like fools and often try to submit to the bully in an attempt to stop the bullying. The net effect is that the victim’s submission fuels the bully and increases the entertainment for the bystanders.

10 What is the harm in being a bystander?

Many parents teach their children to “not get involved”, to “stay out of it”, “to mind your own business.” When a child becomes an audience to bullying, a process of being part of the “Triangle of Power Dynamics” begins. Watching someone squeal in shame as a bully humiliates can create a thrill in the bystander, who becomes vicariously identified with the bully, i.e., a bully-bystander. Eventually, this child might identify with the bully and passively feel empowered by the negative actions of the bully, being ensnared into the pathological power play without even realizing it.

The bystander may also identify with the victim and become afraid of the bully or support the bully so they do not become a victim (victim-bystander). The practiced bully will always be on the look out for new targets, and the victim-bystander is an excellent recruit. Bystanders can also deny any bullying is going on and become avoidant-bystanders. Many adults fill this role. Bystanders may also be confused and not know what to do. This ambivalent-bystander is distracted because they are trying to figure out what part to play in the unfolding destructive power dynamic. This is the group of potential achievers who will not achieve potential because they are distracted by the ongoing power plays.

11 What can be done to stop bullying?

The first step is developing an awareness of the bully-victim-bystander power dynamic and how it is being played out. It does little good to label any one child as the one who needs help or discipline. Bullying is a complex social dynamic that requires a combination of large group interventions that target improving the school and home social climate by having a zero tolerance for the bully-victim-bystander behaviors. Interventions need to target the school climate because the problem is caused by children who are not mentally ill and provide ways to encourage positive alternatives to negative power struggles. Bullying needs to be exposed as destructive behavior rather than glorified, modeled, and ignored by adults. Just like tobacco or AIDS, bullying is a health and educational epidemic that threatens the minds and education of our children.

Children need to learn how to cope with bullies. Simply bullying back will not work. Parents often advise their children to fight back against the bully. Again, victims are often no match for the bullies. Productive responses to bullies are based on teaching children verbal and mental techniques that lead to assertive, not provocative responses to bullying. The child needs to learn how to use assertive stances, language, postures, and some verbal and physical escapes from bullying.

Peer Mediation

01 What is Peer Mediation?

Peer mediation is a form of conflict resolution in schools. It is a process whereby students in conflict are guided by another student – their equal or ‘peer’ – through a series of steps so that they can find their own solution. Peer mediation works because it empowers young people to resolve their own disputes.

02 How does Peer Mediation work?

Students are often referred to mediation by teachers and Assistant Principals or other school personnel. Students can also self refer themselves and others for mediation. For example, when mediators come across any conflict in the playground they will ask the students involved if they would like to ‘go to mediation’ to settle the dispute. They let the school counselor know of the need for mediation. He/she then schedules the mediators who will then go through the mediation process with disputants in a private location with adult supervision nearby, but unable to hear the content of the mediation in most cases (unless an adult program coordinator feels they should co-mediate with a student mediator because a particular student or situation has a higher risk of volatility). At the end of this process a written agreement is hopefully reached bringing closure to the dispute on the students’ own terms.

03 Which students can be mediators?

Primary schools – usually students in 4th grade and up are trained so they can take the skills and potentially use them for the remainder of their years in school.

It is appropriate to have a cross section of students from the school but those who can be relied upon to be responsible and committed are essential. Generally, children that natural leaders (in either positive or negative roles) make good mediators and whom other children would naturally go to when they need someone to talk to about a problem are ideal candidates. Students who are previously leaders in only negative roles because they do not have the academic or athletic ability to lead in these areas, often reverse their behavior when given a positive role in which to demonstrate their leadership abilities. Any student qualified by the school’s ‘no pass, no play’ policies may be selected for the training.

04 What are the potential benefits?

Students learn to express their feelings and have empathy for the feelings of others. These are essential skills for success in all relationships.

Success in all areas of life is dependent upon our ability to get along with others socially—in school, work and family. Peer Mediation & Conflict Resolution training prepares students for life.

Students learn accountability, responsibility and natural consequences for their own behavior by listening to the impact they have had on another person and finding their own agreements to make things right with that person.

Mediation provides a means of resolving problems and can prevent escalation.

Conflict is accepted as a normal healthy part of relationships when it can be managed constructively.

Mediation encourages students to take responsibility for their behavior and their relationships.

Mediators improve their skills in the areas of affirming, listening, communication, negotiating and problem solving.

Student self-esteem is enhanced and school performance often improves.

Schools with a peer mediation scheme report that they have become more peaceful. Students know that they have a dispute resolution system that is confidential and non-confrontational and truancy levels are usually reduced.

Teacher time and stress is reduced as some of the need for disciplining, arbitrating and coercing is lessened. They have more time and energy to devote to other issues.

Students who have a sense of their ability to manage relationship difficulties also have a heightened ability to manage their learning.

Young people trained in mediation will go on to use their mediation skills outside school, for example when there is conflict within their own family or when their family is in conflict with their neighbors.

05 Do all schools have a peer mediation program?

Relatively few schools have peer mediation. To set up a peer mediation program takes a good deal of time, effort and commitment on the part of the school administration, faculty and its students, and also the skills and resources of a recognized and approved mediation service provider such as Innovative Alternatives, Inc. to deliver the appropriate training. A whole school approach to peer mediation is essential. To sustain and support peer mediation and ensure its long term success, an implementation team should be selected to coordinate and supervise the project on a daily basis.

Where peer mediation schemes are up and running, it has been found that mediation is an effective tool for resolving disputes and keeping conflict to a minimum thus leading to less anxious students and improved learning in the classroom.

Counseling Services

01 What is counseling or psychotherapy?

Counselors and Psychotherapists perform what are commonly called ‘talk therapies’ assisting people to talk about their thought, feeling and behavior patterns to examine what is healthy and what may be dysfunctional and in need of change. This is done in order to learn to better obtain life goals, healthy relationships and/or a happier existence. Psychotherapy is much more a partnership between client and therapist rather than a doctor/patient model in which the doctor gives all the ‘orders’ for the patient to follow. Instead, the client is the expert on ‘what unhealthy patterns they want to change’ and the therapist is the expert on providing various techniques for ‘how the client can go about changing’ unhealthy patterns in their lives. Together, they set goals, monitor their achievement and go at the pace the client wishes to go.

02 How much does counseling cost?

As a nonprofit, IAI has various grant programs that completely support, or greatly reduce fees for those persons who have no other resources. For trauma populations, IAI’s Victim Assistance Program provides 6 free individual sessions. We offer sliding scale fees to those who have no insurance resources and/or wish to protect their confidentiality by not using their insurance as this will require filing a diagnosis that will always be available on one’s medical record–particularly when one is in a profession that requires security clearance, law enforcement, nursing, etc. IAI accepts all major forms of insurance, in which case a client only pays their co-pay. If a client does not have insurance and makes too much money to qualify for sliding scale fees, the fee for a fully licensed therapist is $125, for a temporary licensed therapist is $100 and for interns is $65 per session.

03 Do you offer a sliding scale?

Yes, our sliding-scale is based on the total income of all persons working in the home. We have 3 sliding scales based on the credentials of the therapists.

04 What determines eligibility for sliding scale?

Clients must fill out our application for sliding scale and provide proof of income of all persons living in the home.

05 What do you mean by the 'credentials' of a therapist?

This answer has several facets. Graduate level clinical interns are in the last stages prior to gaining their degrees and provide counseling under the supervision of a licensed therapist. In the case of Marriage & Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Counselor-Interns, they have obtained their master’s degrees and have been granted a temporary license until they have completed 3,000 hours of clinical work. They are under weekly clinical supervision of a fully licensed mentor, who is also certified and licensed for this role by the state of Texas as a Clinical Supervisor. In both of the latter situations, a client has lower fees due to the lower level of credentialing, but clients may be assured that their therapist is discussing their case with a very seasoned clinical supervisor. In essence–you have 2 therapists for the price of one. Finally, fully licensed therapists have several different types of licenses such as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists (LMFT). There are also several types of doctoral degrees which give therapists the ability to perform clinical work such as Ph.D., Ed.D, Psy.D., and M.D.’s in Psychiatry. IAI has periodically employed all these types of credentials.

06 Is every therapist on every insurance panel?

No. Obtaining acceptance on most insurance panels typically requires therapists to be fully licensed, as well as , completion of an application and approval process by the insurance company. Some companies only allow so many therapists for a given geographic area, and others require a certain number of years of experience. Therefore, it may take a given therapist several months to gain access to many insurance panels and not all therapists are on all insurance panels.

07 How often do I need come in for counseling?

Most clients attend once per week for a 50 minute session. As goals are reached for therapy, this schedule will typically spread out to every other week or monthly depending on the client need for support or desire for accountability as they work to make their new behavior patterns permanent. This may take a few weeks for some people and months for others.

08 Can I come in more that once a week?

When a client is in crisis and in need of additional support, it is permissible to come more than once per week. Examples of this would be after the homicide of a family member, or in the aftermath of release from the hospital after a suicide attempt.

09 Do you offer Christian Counseling?

Yes, we do but only at a client’s request and by providing a working definition to your therapist about what this means to you.

10 What consists of Christian Counseling?

It can mean including prayer in sessions, reference to scripture or assignment of studies on passages relevant to one’s issues and/or looking at how issues of forgiveness may impact one’s relationships or mental health. However, therapists will not include anything with which a client is not comfortable. We will also refer denominational questions to pastors.

11 I have understood some pastors and church leaders to say that, “People would not need counseling if they would just follow the Bible.” Is it wrong or a lack of faith to get counseling when you are a Christian?

If we could all follow the Bible perfectly, we would be without sin like Jesus, so in a way this is true, but frankly unattainable. With all due respect to these leaders, Christians struggle with addictions, grief, past trauma, and family crises. They suffer functional difficulties of various kinds, as well as chronic mental illnesses and need to build their relationship skills just like other people. It is very difficult to know if you are engaged in dysfunctional behavior when abuse for instance was ‘normal’ in your family of origin. It makes it even more difficult to get help when your spiritual leaders make these kinds of statements, and most do not mean it as a discouragement to get help—simply an encouragement to make sure that you have applied God’s Word to your situation. That said, Christian Counselors will all tell you that Christian Counseling adds tools we do not have otherwise and that studying and following scripture is absolutely healing for many mental and emotional health conditions. However, there are conditions that have a physiological basis—just like blue eyes or brown hair. We would not think of discouraging someone from getting treatment for cancer, we should not discourage treatment for psychological conditions either. The goal of therapy is to improve one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors toward others and to assist individuals in fulfilling their life’s purpose to the fullest—the same as the secondary goal of Christianity. The first goal of Christianity is to know Christ. After salvation comes what Christians refer to as ‘sanctification’ and Christian Counseling can become one component of this process—which is learning to live and treat others more like Christ.

12 What is play therapy? Can it really help my child if they have been traumatized?

Yes it can help your child. Children do not have the words and not even adolescents always talk out what is bothering them. Children ‘act out’ their stressors. Children will show a therapist through their play what they are going through. A therapist may also be able to teach parents how to play with their children at home in order to keep them from acting out anxiety and depression at school that may in fact get them in trouble, when in fact, they need support.

13 Does my child go back and talk to the counselor alone or do I need to be in there?

You will likely not go back into session with your child after the first session. Initially, you will go back with your child in order for the therapist to discuss the limits of confidentiality. This entails explaining to your child, that you as a parent can give the therapist any information you think is important for them to have about how your child is doing at home, school or with friends; but that the therapist will never tell the parent what a child says. The therapist will also always tell the child what you share with them at appropriate times in order to address the issue and get the child’s perspective on the problem. It is permissible for the therapist to tell the parent that the child is working well in therapy, to give them information on the nature of play therapy for young children, or to work with parents and children together on relationship issues. Therapists will not break a child’s confidentiality unless they are in danger of hurting themselves, hurting others or actually ask the therapist to assist them in discussing an issue with one or both parents and/or siblings.

14 Can my therapist write me a prescription?

No, only psychiatrists and other medical doctors can write you a prescription for psychotropic medication.

15 Who qualifies for the Victim Assistance Program?

Any person who has been the victim of a crime, regardless of when the crime occurred and regardless of whether or not any charges were filed, is eligible for the Victim Assistance Program. The sole requirement is that the focus of each session must be on the crime itself and the consequences that it has had on you.