Ask a JFCS Counselor: What should I expect when I see a therapist?

JFCS’ highly skilled, licensed therapists work with care and compassion to address the challenges people face throughout their lives. They help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems that cause emotional turmoil, improve communication, coping skills and symptom management, strengthen self-esteem, promote behavior change, feel better and function at their best.


Counseling services don’t need to be scary or daunting. We accept most insurance, including Medicare. Below, Counselor Carole Cera, LICSW, answers a question we frequently receive. If you have a question you would like to submit for a future column, please email Jill Kozberg, Counseling Program Manager, at All questions will be published anonymously.


What should I expect when I see a therapist?


This is a very common and very good question. We’ve all seen “therapists” on TV and in movies and wonder if this is how it really is? Are they going to tell me what to do? What if I don’t like them? How do we start? Again, all good questions.


Here is how we work at JFCS:


First, we do a brief telephone intake where we talk about what you are coming in for and what you’d like to get out of the counseling. This helps us make the best match between you and our therapists. We will also discuss scheduling and cost. We understand that this a big step for you to take, and really want it to be quick and easy, so that you can get started as soon as possible.


All of our therapists have Master’s degrees and are licensed in either clinical social work or psychology. Successful therapy is all about the relationship that you build with your therapist. We make sure that you have a safe space to work on the concerns that are on your mind. In the first meeting you will have a chance to learn about how therapy works. We’ll also talk in more detail about what your needs are, and together, develop a plan to work through whatever you are struggling with.


Each therapist has a slightly different style, based on their training, skills, interests, and personality. We all work with people with a range of concerns. For example, I may work with children in play therapy or bring in mindfulness. Sessions typically run 45 minutes. People are often surprised by the difference it makes just to be listened to in a safe, respectful, and private space.


People usually want to know how often they need to come, and for how many sessions. That can be really hard to say, as there are so many variables to consider. In general, we hope to meet regularly as we get to know one another, build the relationship and really get some momentum going in the work we are doing together.


People are also usually surprised to know that therapy isn’t always a long-term commitment. There’s quite a range. While some people stay in therapy for an extended time, others come for a handful of sessions, get what they need, and are then ready to end therapy.


It’s important to keep in mind that from the very first phone call or email, everything you say is private and confidential. That confidentiality also extends out of the office in the event that we run into each other out in the community.


No, we do not tell you what to do, but will walk with you, together, on a path of discovery.


Carole CeraCarole Cera, LICSW

I have been providing therapy for over 40 years, with nearly 30 years in the Counseling Department at Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Minneapolis. I continue to feel passionate about my work at JFCS where individuals and families are served holistically, with cultural sensitivity, all within the mission of tikkun olam (healing the world).


My goal for those people I see is to stand beside them as they take on the challenges of life. Along the way, I use humor, mindfulness, play therapy, cognitive, as well as insight oriented evidence-based practices. I have experience working with individuals and families throughout the lifespan and through all life changes, from birth to death. In addition to my role in the Counseling department, I also train new social workers, and manage the Intake & Resource Connection and Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister Programs.


Click here for more information on JFCS Counseling and Mental Health Services, including bios for all our therapists.