Frequently Asked Questions

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Q. My relative/pastor/friend told me I should get therapy. What is "therapy"?
A. There are many kinds of therapy. The most widely practiced is psychotherapy, or "talk therapy." It is the most used type of therapy in our center. The type of therapy you will receive will depend on your individual needs and concerns, along with the assessment of your therapist. You may be seen alone, with key family members, or in a group with other people who have similar problems. The type of treatment is based on an agreement between you and your therapist. In working with your therapist, you will have the opportunity to express yourself freely, privately, and without judgment.

Talking about the problems in your life can be uncomfortable and may feel threatening. Our professional staff considers it a privilege to collaborate with you, and they will use their professional experience and knowledge to help you help yourself.

Q. How long does therapy last?
A. The needs of people vary. For some, one or two sessions is adequate; for others, regular sessions over a period of time is needed. This is something you and your therapist will discuss and agree upon.

Q. How do I find a therapist? How do I know if my therapist is good?

A. Check with your insurance company for a referral or to be sure the therapist you want to see is covered by your insurance. Friends and relatives may be able to recommend a therapist. Also, check with your doctor or pastor for a recommendation. Be sure your therapist is a licensed mental health professional.

If you choose to come to the First Street Center, and you do not have insurance, ask the Reception staff about the sliding fee scale. (Note: We offer a sliding fee scale to Carver County residents only).

Feel free to ask your therapist questions: "What is my problem?" "Have you treated this before?" "What do you recommend?" "How long will it take?" "What will it cost?" "What other treatments should/could I consider?"

Choose someone you like and with whom you feel comfortable - someone you feel cares, is compassionate and values you as a person. You should feel warmth and respect. If you feel uncomfortable from the first contact, look for another therapist. Otherwise, give your relationship with your therapist a little time to develop and grow.

Monitor your progress. Discuss this with your therapist. Get a second opinion if and when you don't agree with your therapist or if you don't feel you're making adequate progress.

Therapy can and does work. Just remember that you need to be an active participant, choose a competent professional who cares and understands, ask questions, and be real and honest.

Q. What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or a psychiatric nurse?

A. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in psychiatry or mental illnesses. Psychiatrists can prescribe drugs and medical therapies.

Psychologists conduct psychotherapy, do psychological testing, and work with individuals, families, and groups. They have specialized training and experience and have successfully completed professional licensure examinations at the masters or doctoral levels.

Psychiatric Nurses are registered nurses who have specialized in the area of mental health and may have advanced academic degrees at the master's level or above. At First Street Center, our psychiatric nurse prescribes medications for mental health problems.  

Social workers at First Street Center are either case managers in the Community Support Program or clinical social workers in the Outpatient Program. A clinical social worker (LISCW 6) is a licensed mental health therapist with a Master's degree and at least 2 years of post licensure experience. Clinical social workers conduct individual, family, and group therapy.

Q. What about medications? Couldn't I just get some medication to make me feel better?
A. Medications can be helpful for many mental health problems. However, for many mental health problems, research has shown that psychotherapy and medications combined is the most beneficial approach.

Q. Wouldn't it be better to just tough it out? I don't like to bother other people with my problems, and things could just blow over if I just hang on.
A. That's like having a toothache and not going to the dentist. The results are the same: You continue to hurt, and the problem may get worse.

Q. How do I get help for someone who doesn't want help?
A. We can meet with family and friends who are concerned about the welfare of a person who is having mental health problems and assist in strategizing ways to encourage the person to seek treatment. If needed, and under exceptional circumstances, we can assist with legal procedures necessary to force a mental health assessment.

Q. What should I do if I'm worried that someone might hurt himself or herself or someone else?
A. You should call the police or sheriff if you believe there is an imminent threat of harm. If it does not seem like an emergency situation or you are not sure, you can call and talk to a member of our staff or a Crisis Team member who will assist you in trying to figure out what to do next. Call the Crisis Line at (952) 442-7601.

Q. Do you come to people's homes?
A. Our services are typically provided at First Street Center or our Satellite Office. Our Crisis Program staff may see individuals in their homes, and we provide other limited services in clients' homes.

Q. What if I don't have insurance and not much money?
A. As a department of Carver County Health and Human Services, Behavioral Health does offer services on a sliding fee scale for Carver County residents. Feel free to discuss this with our receptionist when you call. Also, feel free to discuss financial concerns with your therapist once you are involved with therapy.

Q. If I get therapy, who will find out?

A. Confidentiality is basic to therapy and our services. The client has the right to control access to information about his/her treatment. Professional association guidelines plus Federal and State Laws underscore the importance of confidentiality in therapist/client relationships and govern the release of records. Some insurance companies require certain information from the therapist as a condition for payment.

Under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act all client records are classified as private and are subject to restrictions on their use. Others outside the treatment center may not have access to your records without your written permission, except in particular instances including the threat of imminent serious harm to yourself or someone else, by court order, or if there is suspected abuse or neglect of children or vulnerable adults.

Q. Is someone with a mental illness dangerous?
A. In the overwhelming majority of cases, acts committed by persons with brain disorders are the result of inappropriate or inadequate treatment of their illness.