Therapy and Counseling FAQs

Finding a therapist:

What is therapy like?

What your therapy session will be like depends on what you want to talk about and the therapist you choose. Therapists use different perspectives and approaches, so there is no single description of what a therapy session looks like. In general, therapy is used to solve problems, and your therapist will listen to anything you may want to tell them.. You and your therapist will work together to create therapy goals and gain insight into the problems that you are interested in solving

How do I choose the right therapist to fit my needs?

Finding a therapist is just like hiring any other service provider, and your relationship with your therapist is very important. Do your research and see if you can find information online about the therapist’s style. Look for the therapist’s website, patient testimonials, etc. You can also see if you can set up an initial phone call or session to ask the therapist questions about what is important to you to see if you click with them.

Styles of Therapy

Some therapists adhere to a single style (modality), but many therapists use an integrative style (sometimes called eclectic or holistic). Even so, therapists often have a primary approach. These are some typical therapy styles you may see:

Psychodynamic: This stems from Freudian theories of psychology and often has a primary focus on unconscious processes and the role of parents and childhood experiences on current problems. Therapy is often “talk therapy”.

Cognitive-Behavioral: This is focused on the role of thinking patterns and the way behavior is influenced by different things that influence it. Therapy typically focuses on changing thinking patterns, ways of seeing the world, and behavior that is contributing to problems or getting in the way of therapy goals.

Humanistic/Existential/Client-centered: Broadly, the therapies in this category focus on the client’s inner experiences, finding meaning, and reaching their greatest potential.

Some therapists may use techniques such as mindfulness or yoga as a complement to other approaches or as the primary approach to therapy. If you find that your therapist’s style doesn’t work for you, it’s ok to let the therapist know. The therapist may be able to try other approaches they are trained in, but if it’s still not a good fit, it’s ok to let your therapist know and ask for a referral to someone else. If your therapist will not provide a referral or you don’t trust them to provide a referral you can also look in directories like Find A CBT Therapist.

Can I choose a woman or man as a therapist?

If you go to a private practice, you can investigate therapists in your area who identify as a specific gender. If you go to a clinic with multiple therapists, you can request thatthe clinic sets up an appointment with a male or female therapist depending on your preference. The goal of therapy is to ensure the client benefits from their relationship with their therapist so they will do their best to set you up for a successful relationship.

What if I don’t want to work with a White therapist?

As noted above, you may take your own preferences into consideration when searching for a therapist. If you wish to have a non-White therapist, you can search for therapists of other races or ethnicities in your area. You can also call a clinic and request that they help you schedule an appointment with a non-White therapist.

What are some reasons to go to therapy?

People go to therapy for many reasons, including because they:

  • Are going through a big transition
  • Want to learn better coping skills
  • Feel there is strain in their relationships
  • Have thoughts about harming themselves or others
  • Feel depressed or anxious
  • Have unresolved trauma
  • Want to build better relationships
  • Just want to go to therapy

*You do not have to meet any specific criteria to go to therapy, just a desire to learn more about yourself and the willingness to talk about the problems that may be bothering you.

Will the therapist respect my religion/beliefs?

Therapists should respect your beliefs, regardless of how they compare to their own. If you feel like they are imposing their own religion, values, or political beliefs in your session, you have every right to confront or ‘break up’ with your therapist about this.

Are counselors different from therapists?

These two terms mean pretty much the same thing. However, the background (degree) and training of your counselor or therapist has a lot to do with how they practice. Here is some more information on the counselor vs. therapist distinction.

What if I tried therapy before and didn’t like it?

There are a lot of reasons why someone might not like therapy. These can include not getting along with the first therapist you try out or a therapeutic approach that isn’t a good match. If you are considering therapy again and feel that it may help you, you may want to discuss these issues with your new therapist. Addressing these issues together can pave the way to making your therapy experience more beneficial.

What student resources are available at the University of North Dakota?

The University of North Dakota has a counseling center with a website that provides information about the services they provide.

This link will bring you straight to the University Counseling Center page. It provides additional information and a contact number if you have further  questions not answered there.

The Northern Prairie Community Clinic is another clinic on campus that has therapist and counselors available to anyone in the Grand Forks community, so students may use it too. Patients are charged on a sliding fee scale. Click here for more information.

Local Resources

I don’t live near Grand Forks; what are some national resources that are available to me?

The National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) website can be found here. This has information on numbers you can text/call for immediate help as well as options to get connected to a healthcare provider for treatment.

This alcohol use screening site developed by the Boston University School of Public Health that includes an online test about your own, or someone else’s, level of alcohol use, including advice about cutting down or getting professional treatment.

The LGBT National Help Center provides free, safe, anonymous, confidential space where callers can get support related to coming out issues, gender and/or sexuality identities, relationship concerns, bullying, workplace issues, HIV/AIDS anxiety, safer sex information, suicide, and much more.

  • Helpline: 888-843-4564. Monday-Friday, 4pm to midnight ET. Saturday, noon to 5pm ET.
  • Email:
  • Online peer chat: Monday-Friday, 4pm to midnight ET. Saturday, noon to 5pm ET.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health conditions, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public.

  • Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). Monday-Friday, 10 am–6 pm ET.
  • Email:
  • Note: Not currently available due to the pandemic.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD provides free resource for support, questions, and referrals related to eating disorders.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers free, confidential, 24/7 helpline for support, crisis intervention information, education, and referral services in over 200 languages.

  • Helpline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • Online chat services.
  • Recursos en español.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

  • Confidential Helpline: 1-800-931-2237. Monday-Thursday from 11am to 9pm ET, and Friday from 11am to 5pm ET. (See website for holiday closures.)
  • Online Chat: Monday-Thursday from 9am to 9pm ET, and Friday from 9am to 5pm ET.
  • Text: 1-800-931-2237. Monday-Thursday 3pm to 6pm ET.
  • Crisis text line: For crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer.
  • 24/7 Covid-19 forum: a safe space to discuss concerns about COVID-19 and to get support for your eating disorder during this global crisis.
  • Other resources: Online screening tool, free and low-cost support.

The Partnership to End Addiction offers free, confidential support for yourself or a loved one.   

  • Helpline: Schedule a call with a specialist. Monday-Friday, 9am–Midnight ET. Saturday & Sunday, 12pm – 5pm ET.
  • Text: Text your message to 55753 to connect with a specialist.
  • Email: Complete a short contact form to connect with a specialist over email.
  • Recursos en español.
  • Other resources: Peer support, parent coaching, educational resources.

The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is a 24/7 confidential victim-centered, trauma-informed support services for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones.

  • Helpline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • Online chat:
  • Recursos en español: Gratis, confidencial, segura.
  • Llame 1-800-656-4673.

Sala de Ayuda: para conversar con otros sobrevivientes del asalto sexual en un espacio seguro y confidencial entre las 7 p.m a 9 p.m. tiempo del este, todos los Miércoles y Sábado.

Línea de Ayuda Online: 24 horas al día, 7 días por semana para los sobrevivientes de la violencia sexual y sus seres queridos.

The StrongHearts Native Helpline provides safe, anonymous, confidential service for American Indians and Alaska Natives, offering culturally-appropriate support and advocacy.

  • Helpline: 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483). Daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.
  • Online chat available.
  • The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a safe, anonymous, and confidential service for Native Americans experiencing domestic violence and dating violence.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

  • Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746. 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service available to all residents in the United States and its territories.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing: Text TalkWithUs to 66746. Use your preferred relay service to call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. TTY 1-800-846-8517.

Recursos en español: Llame 1-800-985-5990 y oprime “2” o envíe un texto con el mensaje “HABLANOS” al 66746. Desde Puerto Rico, text “Hablanos” al 1-787-339-2663.

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

  • Helpline: 1-866-488-7386. Available 24/7/365 for in young people in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk.
  • Online chat: 24/7 confidential support.
  • Text: 24/7/365 confidential support. Text START to 678-678.

Further resources for national helplines available here.

Here is a website where you can search for therapists in your area.


What if I can’t afford therapy?

A lot of people find cost as a barrier to attending therapy. This can lead people to avoid seeking the help that they need. Fortunately, there are lots of options when it comes to therapy costs. If you have health insurance, you can call your insurance company to find out what options you have, how much they will cover (for session fees and number of sessions), and which providers are in your network. If your insurance will not cover therapy or you cannot pay the remaining balance after insurance, don’t panic! There are other options for you.

You may be able to find a therapist who offers fees on a sliding scale. This means that they charge you for services based on your income and how much you can contribute financially. This can make therapy services more affordable, as the cost is adjusted according to your financial situation. Just call and ask.

Another option is to look for a training clinic, such as a college clinic. Colleges often have students who are training to become therapists and need practical experience and provide therapy under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Fees for therapy with a trainee often costs much less than with a licensed therapist.

Group therapy and/or support groups are also an option that is often less expensive than individual therapy. Group therapies are often based on specific issues such as grief or substance abuse, but some groups have a more general focus. Religious and other organizations may provide group therapies outside of psychology practices or clinics.

How much will it cost?

The cost of therapy depends on your therapist’s fees and, if you have health insurance, how much they cover. Some insurance plans cover the entirecost of therapy after your deductible is met,;others require you to pay a copay. It is important to contact your insurance company to see what your responsibility is when it comes to paying for therapy.

If you do not have insurance, then the outright cost of therapy can be anywhere from $65-$200 depending on your therapist’s qualifications, specializations, and the length of the session. If a sliding scale is offered, a lower fee may be available, depending on your income. (See the question above,“What if I can’t afford therapy?”)

Do I have to pay for it immediately?

Whether you have to pay up front for therapy or can have the amount billed to you later depends on your therapist and their policies. Some therapists will let you set up a payment plan in order to pay installments on your bill over time. This is a conversation that is important to have when you begin looking for a therapist.


Do therapists tell other people what I tell them?

The relationship between a therapist and their patients is built upon trust. Without confidentiality, this trust could not be established. Therapists must follow ethical codes and laws that prevent them from disclosing your information to anyone else. Information you share with your therapist is generally confidential, except in certain circumstances.

Exceptions or limitations to confidentiality include:

  • If the client is a danger to themself or someone else.
  • If the therapist learns of harm or danger to a child or vulnerable adult.
  • Examination under court order
  • Minors in therapy

Who will know I am in therapy?

Your participation in therapy is completely confidential, besides the exceptions discussed above. You are not required to tell anyone about therapy that you are not comfortable with. Your therapist is required to keep your participation confidential by law.

Will my parents know I’m going to therapy if I’m on their insurance?

If your parents check their insurance claims, they will see the therapy appointment. The best way to approach this situation is to be open and honest with your parents about going to therapy. If you are concerned about your therapy appointments appearing on insurance claims, you might consider paying out of pocket for therapy sessions. Be sure to discuss confidentiality questions and issues with your therapist.


How long will it take?

Therapy sessions usually last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Sometimes your initial appointment may take longer. The length of time that you engage in therapy varies based on your specific situations and goals. Some individuals need just one or two sessions and others choose to continue for several years; however, your participation is voluntary and can be terminated at any time.

Is it safe to go to therapy with the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are worried about the pandemic and staying safe during your therapy sessions, the best option may be to find a therapist who offers telehealth services. Many therapists are offering Telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are more comfortable meeting in-person, you can discuss this with your therapist to see if they are offering in-person sessions and what precautions they may require.

What if I don’t have transportation/time to get to a therapist?

You may consider telehealth if transportation or time are obstacles to therapy. Telehealth is an ever-growing field that therapists use to better serve their clients. Note that telehealth may not be suitable for all clients, depending on things such as your specific therapy goals.

Your insurance may cover rides to and from medical appointments; contact them to find out. You may also ask your current therapist if they can connect you with a different therapist closer to where you live, if you want to attend sessions in person.

What if I don’t like my therapist?

If you decide after a few sessions that you and your therapist aren’t the right fit, that’s okay. It’s unrealistic to believe every therapist is going to perfectly fit every client. While it is recommended that you try one or two sessions with a therapist before making a change, that doesn’t mean that either of you are at fault. It’s just not the right fit.

The most important part of making this change as easy as possible is by openly communicating with your therapist. You can request a referral to another therapist, or you can research other options yourself. Either way, communicate to your current therapist that you will not be returning because you feel your needs would best be met elsewhere. The therapist will understand that you are doing what is best for you.

What if my therapist didn’t listen to me?

Therapists are trained to listen to clients, and you get to choose what you disclose. If you feel like your therapist is not fulfilling this role, you can try to have an open and honest conversation with them about it. If you still feel like your therapist is not listening to you or you do not feel comfortable addressing the situation with your therapist, you may request a referral to a different therapist or try to find another yourself (see “What if I don’t like my therapist?” for more information on how to approach this process).

If I tell my therapist too much information will they put me on medication?

Some mental health issues respond best to medication or therapy in combination with medication. Your therapist may suggest medication if they feel it will help you; however, if you do not feel comfortable taking medications, then discuss other options with your therapist.