Frequently asked questions and general information
About our practice
Important information about our practice policies and our services
What is important to know about your telehealth practice?
Telehealth (a.ka., teletherapy and telecounseling) helps make mental health and wellness services easier to engage in without sacrificing quality of care.
While telehealth is helpful for a wide variety of mental health concerns and goals, there are some clinical situations where it may not be the best option. At Brava Vita Counseling, what matters most to us is connecting you to the best care possible for your specific needs and goals, and if we’re not a good option based on those needs and goals, we’ll provide you with other options in your community.
For your appointments, you must have access to a private, quiet space for 30-60 minutes, depending on your appointment or service. You’ll also need a computer, phone, or other electronic device to sign into your session.
We use a secure, private and HIPAA-compliant video conferencing service and provide you with a link to sign on to your appointment. If you prefer, sessions can also be over the phone.
While we take every precaution possible, including checking in with you to make sure you’re in a private space, there is always the possibility that any online service or interaction (not just telehealth!) might be intercepted by an unauthorized third party. Your counselor will talk with you about this risk and any concerns you may have.
Teletherapy and telecounseling rely on technology to work, so things like power failures, wifi outages, and other technical difficulties (i.e., the dreaded computer crash), could impact your session. Rest assured, your counselor will make all attempts to reconnect with you, including calling you.
How long should I expect to be in counseling?
It depends! In your consultation call or first appointment, we’ll talk about your goals for counseling. And we’ll discuss duration of care with you, so you have a sense of how long therapy or counseling might take.
and we check in with you throughout the process to see if we’re on track or if we need to collaboratively adjust our game plan. It’s not uncommon for clients to work through particular goals in 6 – 8 weekly or bi-weekly sessions, while other clients might want or need more time. You are always part of the decision-making process when it comes to your care.
Do you have sliding scale payment options?
At this time, we don’t offer any sliding scale options for clients. However, we have some resources you may want to review if you are looking for affordable, sliding scale options for counseling in your community.
Do you take insurance?
Yes, we are currently in-network with most Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plans. Before your first appointment, we’ll verify benefits and let you know about any out-of-pocket costs, like co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles.
We also offer private pay services for clients and patients who have other insurance plans, or for those who prefer private pay for greater confidentiality and more control over their care.
How confidential are your services?
Confidentiality is very importance to us. Protecting your privacy is part of our legal and ethical responsibilities to clients in our care. Outside of a handful of exceptions to confidentiality that are described in the Texas Health & Safety Code, we do not release any information to anyone without permission from our clients. Please read our FAQ below on how we engage in social media to learn more about our social media policies.
Can I “friend” you on social media, or communicate with my counselor that way?
Because your privacy matters deeply to us, we have a social media policy in place at Brava Vita Counseling that strongly discourages current or former clients from attempting to interact with us on social media. These are not confidential venues to interact with your counselor, and we ask that current clients don’t try to message or friend us on social media. We won’t reply back to messages or friend back current or former clients, so if you ever have a question or need to reach your counselor, the best way to reach us is to call (210) 201-6048 or send your counselor a secure message through your client portal. We don’t expect our clients to follow our social media accounts either; if you choose to follow our accounts or subscribe to our content, please know that this could put your privacy at risk. We use our social media accounts (like YouTube and Instagram) primarily to help educate the general public about mental health topics.
Do you provide evaluations and letters for Emotional Support Animals (ESA)?
We currently do not conduct ESA evaluations or provide ESA letters for non-clients.
Some general information on the counseling and therapy process
Why telehealth services?
Though most people became familiar with telehealth and teletherapy services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth as a vehicle for delivering counseling and mental health care has been around since the 1990s (APA, 2011)! And studies show that teletherapy for many concerns is just as effective as in-person therapy or counseling (APA, 2020).
We provide telehealth services not only because they are just as effective as in-person, but because telehealth is often easier and more convenient for individuals to access. You don’t have to be in the same city as your counselor, you don’t have to figure out transportation or parking, and it can be more time efficient: you don’t have to budget travel time into your day, and you can schedule appointments that are convenient with your daily schedule. All you need is a private, quiet space for 30-45 minutes, depending on what service you’re receiving, and access to a computer, phone, or other electronic device.
What’s the difference between therapy and personal growth counseling?
The terms “counseling” and “therapy” are often used interchangeably, but we make a distinction between them here at Brava Vita. For us, therapy is about providing evidence-based treatment for specific, diagnosable mental health concerns, like Anxiety disorders or PTSD. Therapy tends to be more focused and structured, and is designed to help you experience symptom relief and see improvements in your overall daily life. However, not everyone experiences a diagnosable concern, and they may benefit from a space that’s more about gaining insights and growing on a personal level. That’s where personal growth counseling comes in.
Maybe something in your life hasn’t felt quite right, be it in your relationships, career-path, or even your overall approach to personal wellness. Personal growth counseling is a wonderful space to “figure this stuff out” in supportive, caring space with a counselor who genuinely cares about you and is wanting you to experience fulfillment and satisfaction with your life.
Is therapy or counseling really helpful?
The ability of counseling and therapy to help people experience reduction of mental health symptoms and make improvements in their daily life is well-researched! For some helpful readings on this, click here and here.
What should I look for when choosing a counselor?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a counselor! Ultimately, it’s about finding the right counselor for you. Helpful qualities to look for include, 1) feeling heard and respected; 2) the counselor’s clinical knowledge and experience; and 3) connecting with your counselor’s personal style and approach to therapy. As you search for a counselor, take advantage of any free initial consultations they may offer, in order to get a feel for how they practice and how they might be able to help. If it doesn’t seem like a good “fit” for you, that’s okay! Good, caring mental health professionals won’t take this personally: ultimately, we all want you to find someone you feel comfortable with who can help you reach your goals.
I’ve done counseling before and it wasn’t great. I’m not sure about starting it up again…
There are many reasons why someone might have a mixed or disappointing experience in counseling. This might range from the experience feeling less-than-helpful, to (thankfully, relatively rare!) situations where a counselor or therapist has acted unethically or harmfully towards a client. For situations where counseling has felt less-than-helpful, some of the common reasons might be 1) the counselor wasn’t very experienced in the particular concern, or 2) it was a poor fit between counselor and client (for more on this, check out this article).
We sincerely hope this has not been the case for you, and if you have had poor experiences, it’s understandable why you might be hesitant to give it another try! Our counselors at Brava Vita are committed to providing clients with ethical, expert, and client-centered care. Before starting with us, we want to hear about what did and didn’t work in your past counseling experiences, and we’ll collaborate with you to come up with a plan that’s different and tailored to your needs.
What to expect
Information about starting counseling and the therapeutic process
What is it like to start counseling or therapy?
If it’s your first time starting counseling, it can feel strange or even scary to begin, particularly if you’ve been trying to cope with your concerns on your own for a while. We recognize that it takes a significant amount of courage–and trust–to start the process, and we strive to be worthy of that trust. We don’t believe in rushing you, or pressuring you to share more than you’re willing or able to at first, and that’s okay: we’re here to walk this journey with you. We work to create a safe, confidential space for you to engage in personal exploration at your own pace, build helpful coping skills, and work towards your goals.
How long should I expect to be in counseling?
This depends on many factors, including the type and number of goals you have for counseling. Here at Brava Vita, we discuss duration of care with you, so you have a sense of how long therapy or counseling might take, and we check in with you throughout the process to see if we’re on track or if we need to collaboratively adjust our game plan. It’s not uncommon for clients to work through particular goals in 6 – 8 weekly or bi-weekly sessions, while other clients might want or need more time. You are always part of the decision-making process when it comes to your care.
How long are therapy or counseling sessions and how often do you meet?
Our sessions are typically 30-min, 45-min, or 60-min in length, depending on your goals and what works best with your schedule.
Sessions are usually held weekly or bi-weekly (every 2 weeks), and your counselor will collaborate with you on selecting a timeframe that best fits your goals.
What happens if I want to stop counseling?
You are able to stop counseling at any time, for any reason. If you’re feeling like something needs to change in your counseling or you don’t feel connected with your counselor, it is always okay to talk with us about this. We want you to have a positive, helpful experience with counseling! We’re also happy to help get you connected with referral information if you’d like to explore other counseling options in the community.