Carolina Fuentes CREATE Mental and Educational Center, Therapist, Psychotherapy, Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Community Workshops, Professional Development, Houston, Spring TX.

How long do I need to be in therapy? 

Therapy can be short-term (6-12 sessions) or long-term (several months or years). There are several factors that may determine the length including the setting, the types of concerns/needs/goals you have, and the types of modalities/interventions used. Many services offered in community settings tend to be short-term due to funding limitations and demand while private practice may offer more flexibility in the therapeutic approaches and length of treatment (both are important resources). A desire to increase coping skills and resilience as well as addressing one (or few) very specific goal(s) may be successfully addressed in short-term therapy. On the other hand, a complex history of trauma, multiple concerns/diagnoses, moderate to severe symptoms and/or a desire to explore root causes and going deeper would usually need long-term therapy. 

How do I choose the right therapist for me?

It is impossible to predict with 100% certainty that you will have a good match with a therapist just by following specific steps. However, some considerations that can be helpful in increasing the chances that you will have a positive and productive experience include:

  • Specialty–finding a therapist with advanced training, certifications and/or significant experience and interest in your area of need, age group or unique life experience
  • Cultural sensitivity and accessibility–looking for a therapist with shared cultural/religious background and or life experience and approach that would help them connect, understand and accept your story, identity and personal and societal struggles
  • Transparency and accountability–looking for a therapist that offers the opportunity to have a brief consultation to assess whether you are initially a good fit, that openly and comfortably answers your questions and is able to clearly articulate what they can and cannot do for you. Someone who is diligent in recognizing their competency in specific areas as well as their limitations and offers referrals and guidance for the type of programs or therapists that may best match your needs at the time of initial consultation and/or throughout their time seeing you 

Look for this information on their website, professional directory, and ask clarifying questions when you first reach out with interest in their services. If you don’t feel comfortable with your first therapist, don’t give up on therapy! There is someone out there who is a good match for you. See New to Therapy for tips on how to make the most out of your therapy experience.

What is the difference between individual therapy and group therapy?

Individual therapy consists of meetings between one therapist and a client with the purpose of engaging in assessment, processing, support and clinical interventions. Occasionally, a family member or friend may join in a session or meet separately with the therapist for education and to learn ways to support the client’s wellbeing and/or recovery. In the case of minors, a caregiver may choose or be required to have ongoing involvement in the treatment process to increase effectiveness. However, the primary client continues to be just one individual. Individual therapy can be short-term or long-term. 

In contrast, group therapy may be facilitated by one or two therapists and several clients not related to each other form a group unit. Similarly to individual therapy, members of a therapy group may engage in assessment, processing, clinical interventions and skill building activities but partner with other peers and not just the clinician in the therapeutic process. While participating in a group people get to hear more perspectives, relate to others that have gone through similar experiences, practice skills and offer mutual support. Groups are usually short-term (6 to 12 sessions) when they are considered “closed” groups (the same people start together and continue until the end). Some groups are called “open” which means people can join or stop coming at any time and the group is offered on an ongoing basis such as the case of AA/NA groups. Many of the evidence-based interventions/modalities have and can be adapted to be used in group settings. 

At CREATE we will only be offering closed short-term groups.

How do I know if I need group or individual therapy?

There is a component of personal preference when it comes to choosing one over the other. However, other aspects that can help you decide include the nature and severity of your concerns, your expectations and goals, and your current knowledge and ability to deal with stressors. Some in-patient and intensive outpatient facilities may have the capacity to offer groups to people in a variety of situations and mental states. For the purpose of what we are able to ethically and safely offer at CREATE, here is our criteria:


  • Desires/needs highly customized plan of care
  • Desires/needs significant amount of processing time (time to talk)
  • Desires/needs to address several concerns/needs/goals
  • Has trauma that has not been addressed
  • Is in a constant state of crisis or constantly feels overwhelmed
    and unable to manage feelings and situations
  • Wants an in depth therapeutic relationship and the therapist’s undivided attention


Carolina Fuentes CREATE Mental and Educational Center, Therapist, Psychotherapy, Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Community Workshops, Professional Development, Houston, Spring TX.
  • Desires to hear other people’s experiences and learn from others
  • Wants to see other group members grow and succeed 
  • Wants to share with others what they are learning
  • Wants to practice coping and social skills with peers
  • Has previously addressed significant mental health challenges or traumatic experiences with professional help or is concurrently receiving individual therapy
  • Is willing and able to adhere to group norms and agreements
  • Is willing and able to keep other people’s information confidential

How are therapist fees set up?

Private practice therapists take into account the average cost of therapy sessions in their state/city but also include a number of factors when setting their fees. The years of experience and the level of specialty also impact how much a therapist’s time is worth. Other factors that therapists may consider when setting up their fees include professional expenses such as continuing education, license renewal fees, fees for participating in professional associations, advanced training and certifications, fees for consulting with colleagues/business associates. Private practice therapists also have to take into account the operational costs of running a business; for instance, rent, insurance, maintenance, accounting services, design/marketing/technology services, etc. As small business owners, private therapists don’t have the benefits that full-time employees enjoy when working for a company such as paid vacation, sick time, pay for administrative work, etc. 

In summary, mental health professionals just like other professionals invest countless hours and resources in their education, ongoing training, and running their practices. When setting their fees, they take into account their client’s best interest, the amount needed to keep their business open and what they need to take care of themselves and their families. 

New to Therapy

If you are looking for a therapist for the first time, have only had a brief therapy experience in the past or had a negative experience in therapy, the following tips/reminders will be helpful as you consider giving yourself, therapy, and a therapist a (new) chance.

  • Be reasonable
    • Therapy is usually only an hour of your week. There are many factors that impact your wellness 
    • Therapy alone cannot solve all problems but it is one helpful tool among other supports 
    • Therapists are not perfect nor do they know all the answers
    • Therapy involves mutual commitment and honesty
  • Be informed
    • speciality, evidence (advanced certifications, professional experience, lived experience)
    • Populations
    • Difference between community mental health and private practice
    • Care management (insurance) and self-pay
  • Advocacy, ask questions, try again