Dr. Heather Violante is out of the office for the rest of May and will accept new teletherapy clients in June 2024.


Common Questions about Therapy

Why do people go to therapy and how can it help me?

There are numerous benefits from engaging in therapy. Therapists, including psychologists, are clinically trained to offer support, problem-solving skills, and effective coping strategies for dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, drug and alcohol addiction, relationship and communication problems, unresolved childhood issues, grief and loss, life transition issues (unemployment, new job, divorce, caregiver role, empty nest syndrome, etc.), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), body image issues, and other emotional/ psychological concerns.

Through counseling, many individuals often find that therapists can be a major asset for helping them learn to cope and manage their issue and other daily life challenges by providing a fresh perspective and guidance towards a healthy solution to various problems. Therapy can also help you learn more about yourself and explore ways to implement healthy personal goals in life. The benefits you can obtain from therapy depend on how well you utilize the process, how committed you are to your therapy sessions, and how effectively you put into practice what you learn. The following are some of the benefits therapy has to offer:

  • Developing a better understanding of yourself as a unique individual, your goals/values, and your thought process
  • Enhancing your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
  • Managing feelings of anger, depression, grief, and other emotional pressures
  • Learning new methods to cope with mood instability, anxiety, and stress
  • Discovering a resolution to the issues that led you to seek therapy
  • Enhancing your communication and listening skills
  • Replacing old negative behavior patterns with new healthy behaviors
  • Discovering alternative ways to solve problems in your family, marriage, other relationships, and/or work-environment
Do I really need therapy?

Everybody experiences difficult situations in life from time to time and often face multiple challenges at once. Although you may have successfully resolved difficulties you might have faced in the past, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you find yourself in times of needing additional encouragement, motivation, or assistance. In fact, therapy is aimed at serving individuals who have enough self-awareness to realize they need further guidance, which takes courage to do. By asking for help, you are taking responsibility for your life and making a commitment to change the current situation that is holding you back from accomplishing your goals. Therapy is designed to establish long-lasting benefits by providing you with the tools necessary to eliminate old negative habits, avoid harmful triggers, improve relationships, cope with stressful situations, and overcome common life challenges that may arise.

Do you offer remote therapy?

Yes, Serenity Lane Psychological Services is currently offering tele-therapy (video sessions). Remote therapy, also known as tele-mental health, is HIPAA compliant and a great option for those who are unable to travel, have busy schedules, or live too far away from their preferred therapist. Tele-therapy is just as effective as in-person counseling, and can help you achieve your goals and overcome your challenges. Dr. Heather Violante is licensed in both Florida and New York State and can help you make positive changes in your life if you live in one of these states.

What can I expect in therapy?

Since each individual has different issues and goals for therapy, the therapeutic process will be tailored to your own specific needs and can, therefore, vary for each person. In therapy sessions, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, the current issue you are experiencing, your personal history relevant to your issue, and your progress or any new insights gained from the previous sessions. Depending on your particular needs, therapy can be short-term for a specific issue or longer-term to deal with more difficult patterns of behavior. Therapy sessions are typically held on a weekly basis, but for some clients, depending on the nature of their issue, may be encouraged to meet every other week. This is something that can be discussed with your therapist so that a beneficial schedule can be arranged.

It is important to understand that you will obtain more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process by asking questions, practice newly learned skills at home, and being open and honest with your therapist. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life so you can achieve a sense of autonomy when faced with life challenges. In other words, therapy provides you with the skills you need to help you gain your independence so you do not have to rely on others to solve your issues or feel like you have to be trapped in the same negative cycle. Individuals seeking therapy are often ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives, are willing to take responsibility for their actions, and are courageous for taking the first step by asking for help.

Should I take medication or go to therapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems cannot be solved solely by medication, although, there are some psychiatric disorders that clinically benefit from certain psychotropic medications. Instead of simply treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that hinder us from accomplishing our goals. Therefore, a more integrative approach needs to be utilized to help you progress and to achieve an overall sense of wellness. It is crucial that you maintain an open line of communication with both your medical doctor or psychiatrist and your therapist in order to help them better determine which treatment may be best for you. In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy may be the ideal course of action. Please note: mental health therapists and psychologists are not authorized to prescribe medication since only a medical physician, including a psychiatrist, holds that privilege.

How can I find a therapist that’s right for me?

Choosing the right mental health care provider is an essential factor in determining how beneficial therapy might be for an individual. Various factors are involved in choosing the right therapist, including the therapist’s experience and interest in working with your particular issue/diagnosis, your level of personal comfort or rapport with the therapist, the match between your personality and that of the therapist, and the therapist’s credentials and level of professionalism. After all, it is the therapist whom you are entrusting to provide you with the highest level of care and expertise necessary to help you enhance your quality of life.

Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those individuals qualified to practice psychology as defined by law. The state of Florida recognizes several types of mental health clinicians who can be licensed to provide therapeutic services to the public, which include Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC), and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). Only a psychologist and psychiatrist are licensed at the doctoral level.

What is a psychologist?

Psychologists are highly trained as doctoral-level mental health clinicians in the areas of human behavior, mental illness, psychological assessment, clinical diagnosis, and treatment. After having earned a Bachelor’s degree from a four year undergraduate program, psychologists complete an average of 5-7 years of graduate level training in Clinical or Counseling Psychology and can pursue either a Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) or Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy). A psychologist’s training further includes multiple supervised clinical rotations and an internship during their graduate program, plus at least one year of a post-doctoral residency before they are eligible to take the national licensure exam and practice independently. Depending on the state, psychologists may also be required to pass their state’s licensure exam, which is the case in Florida.

The general terms “therapist,” “counselor,” “practitioner,” and “clinician” are often used interchangeably to refer to psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers. However, the title of “psychologist” can only be used by an individual who has completed the above doctoral-level education, clinical training, and state licensing requirements. Only a psychologist and psychiatrist are licensed at the doctoral-level. Psychiatrists are trained in medicine and hold an M.D. or D.O. with prescription writing privileges. Compared to other mental health care providers, a psychologist holds the highest level of education and training available. It is this combination of extensive education, vigorous training, and clinical experience that distinguishes psychologists from many other mental health care providers.

Psychologists utilize empirically validated interventions to help clients modify their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to enhance their quality of life and promote emotional wellness. Psychologists adhere to a strict code of professional ethics when pertaining to patient confidentiality and making every effort to provide the highest quality of care.

What are the limits to confidentiality in therapy?

Confidentiality between a client and therapist is one of the most crucial elements of therapy. Effective therapy requires a significant amount of trust when addressing highly sensitive topics that are usually not discussed anywhere else but in a therapist’s office. As mental health professionals, therapists should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement (aka: “Informed Consent”), which explains your rights to confidentiality concerning subject matters discussed in therapy sessions. Therefore, within the limits of the law, information revealed by you during therapy will be kept strictly confidential and will not be revealed to any other person or agency without your written permission.

However, due to state laws and professional ethics, there are possible exceptions to confidentiality including: information revealed in therapy pertaining to (1) court orders, (2) fee disputes, (3) negligence suits against the therapist, or (4) the filing of a complaint with the licensing board.
There are additional situations in which therapists are required by law to reveal information obtained during therapy to other persons or agencies without your permission. These situations are as follows: (1) If you reveal information relative to child abuse, child neglect, or elder abuse; and (2) if you threaten serious bodily harm or death to yourself or another person. Therapists are required by law to report these circumstances to the appropriate authority, law enforcement, and/or medical agencies as deemed appropriate.