How do I contact my counselor?

Due to the nature of their work and the complexity of their schedules, our counselors are often not immediately available by telephone. The Banyan Tree phone number (706-850-7041) is answered Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. by our office manager and intake co-ordinators. During other times, it is answered by a confidential answering machine, and calls will be returned by our office manager during the times listed above. The answering machine is also monitored once or twice daily during weekends and holidays. Please speak clearly and give numbers slowly, since we may not have any way to look up your number. If you have an urgent need, please make this very clear in your message. However, since we do not carry pagers, there may be a delay in our receiving your call request. If you are unable to reach us and feel that you can't wait for a return call, please contact your family physician or the nearest emergency room or mental health crisis center. If your counselor will be unavailable for an extended time, we will provide you, via our outgoing message, with the name of a colleague to contact, if necessary.

What happens if I miss an appointment or need to cancel?

Mental Health Professionals differ in many respects from other Healthcare Providers. Unlike most physicians, dentists and other professionals who work on flexible and inexact schedules, we commit a specific time period to each client. It is, therefore, important for you to appreciate the fact that a block of time has been set aside for you only. Our schedules can be crowded. Canceling or rescheduling an appointment without sufficient notice often means the loss of an hour of therapy to someone else that needed the appointment time. Therefore, we ask that you give at least 48 hours notice if you cannot be at the appointment for which you have contracted. If no notice of your cancellation is received, or if less than 24 hours notice is given, YOU WILL BE CHARGED A FEE FOR THE MISSED APPOINTMENT. Of course, rescheduling an appointment can be done at any time if there is an emergency or unexpected illness. Cancellation messages can be left on the voicemail. To prevent any confusion about your appointment time, always keep your appointment card. If a mistake is made, your appointment card is your means of verification.

How does confidentiality work with minors?

Clients under 18 years of age who are not emancipated and their parents should be aware that the law allows parents to examine their child's treatment records unless we believe that doing so would endanger the child or we agree otherwise. Because privacy in counseling is often crucial to successful progress, particularly with teenagers, it is our policy to request an agreement from parents that they consent to give up their access to their child's records. If they agree, during treatment, we will provide them only with general information about the progress of the child's treatment, and his/her attendance at scheduled sessions. Any other communication will require the child's Authorization, unless we feel that the child is in danger or is a danger to someone else, in which case, we will notify the parents of our concern. Before giving parents any information, we will discuss the matter with the child, if possible, and do our best to handle any objections he/she may have.

What are my rights & responsibilities?

Our purpose is to help you resolve problem areas in your life. Although no one can solve your problems for you, we are trained to help people cope more effectively with their difficulties. We will do our best to understand you as a unique individual and to help you work through your difficulties. It is our function to listen, to understand and to be helpful to the fullest extent of our professional training and experience. It is your responsibility to help us understand your life situation, thoughts and feelings and to have the courage to try to master your problem areas. You as a patient have the following rights: - To ask for and receive information about our qualifications, including licensure, education, training, experience, membership in professional organizations, specific areas of practice, and limits on practice - To have written information, before therapy, about fees, method of payment, insurance coverage, number of sessions that may be needed, on call therapists used in case of vacations and emergencies, and cancellation policies. - To refuse to answer any question or give any information you choose not to answer or give. - To know if your case will be discussed with others (for instance, supervisors or consultants) and what information will be shared - To ask about your progress - To have any therapy procedure, including pros and cons of its use, explained to you before it is used -To end treatment at any time (However, please schedule at least one session with your therapist before terminating treatment).

Are my sessions confidential?

Counseling is a confidential process. We adhere to strict professional standards of ethics and confidentiality. We are required by practice guidelines and standards of care to keep records of your counseling sessions. However, information can only be released with your permission and written consent unless mandated by law. You should be aware however, that there are a few exceptions regarding confidentiality. For example, therapists are required to take appropriate action when a client is judged to be in imminent danger of harming oneself or threatens grave bodily harm to another person and this action supersedes confidentiality. We must also report all incident(s) of child or elder abuse, whether it has already occurred or is likely to occur. Finally, under certain circumstances, confidentiality may be superseded by a court order. If you have any questions regarding confidentiality, you should bring them to the attention of the Therapist so you can discuss this matter further.

Who Are Your Typical Clients?

Our Typical clients are between the ages of 13 to 65+. They come to improve their lives in many different areas. Almost all of our clients are intelligent, successful, and kind, individuals who want to improve their personal, school, career or family lives. They may have relationship problems, addictions, parenting challenges, difficulties managing stress, depression or anxiety, or are learning to cope better with any of life's difficulties such as illness, finding meaning in life, transitions and decision making. Maybe you've heard of people going to counseling and because of a stigma or belief that it was for people with "real problems," you hesitated to contact a therapist. Counseling teaches truly effective ways to deal with common, everyday irritations as well as more entrenched patterns of living. The Banyan Tree can help you with what prompted you to look into our services. If we don't work with your particular concern, we will help you find someone who does. So, whatever you're facing, please contact us. You will be taking a big first step to living the life you want to live!

Can Counseling Help Me?

Yes. Not only do we believe it can, there is a substantial amount of research to support the idea that counseling works. We understand that you may feel skeptical and uncertain. Perhaps you or someone you know has tried it before with no success. We encourage you to try it anyway. The greatest predictor of counseling effectiveness is the relationship the client forms with the therapist. Browse our staff pages and contact our intake coordinator for a free consultation to determine if someone on our staff would be a good fit to work with you. Counseling does work when you find the right fit.

How did you choose the name for your practice?

The process of human growth and development has often been compared to the growth of a tree. The more rooted we are, the stronger we are and the greater our capacity to reach great heights. We chose the Banyan Tree for our image because it most accurately represents the process of an individual’s growth. As it first grows, a Banyan tree has a single trunk or support system, but as time passes and experiences of learning and skill development take deeper root, the branches of wisdom form. New experiences reach out by sending down new roots or "experiments" that sway in the breeze until reaching the ground and taking root. The individual's support system spreads as the roots deepen and become themselves new trunks to support further personal growth and development. Through a willingness to gain new skills and develop additional and deeper roots, the tree (or self) becomes much more than one had ever imagined. Past, present and future intertwine, as do the roots and branches, under the flourishing canopy. The story of the tree is as the story of one's life, continually growing and expressing the wisdom inherent in the necessary risk of such growing.

What is Counseling?

Simply put, it is a way to enrich your life. Counseling can increase emotional, mental and physical well-being. It can improve relationships and enhance the quality of day to day living. Counseling and psychotherapy restores hope and gives direction as individuals and families address personal and emotional challenges. We provide a setting of safety, confidentiality and acceptance. This allows the client to fully explore what they want to talk about. Together, the counselor and the client will create new ways to effectively find the best choice of action. Think of a counselor as a different kind of personal trainer.