Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Common questions clients have prior to going to therapy
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO SEE A THERAPIST?
The very fact that you are reading this creates a likelihood that the time is near. Here are three questions for you to contemplate: Are you able to love and be loved in the ways you desire? Are you able to dream or set goals and pursue your dreams and goals? Do you know your self worth? Most problems that people bring to therapy are related to one or more of these questions. If you get a "no" on any of these questions, you are probably struggling in your life and could benefit from good therapy.
And here are some other questions that can help you clarify your need for therapy: Is there a persistent problem, condition, and way of feeling or upset that has been bothering you for a while? Is there something that you want to change in yourself or your life? Are you tired of having the same conversation about something over and over in your head or with your friends, yet nothing seems to change? Does the issue feel too big to tackle by yourself? Are you tired of feeling the way you have been feeling? Are you finally ready to do something about it? Has that quiet, intuitive little voice inside of you been nudging you to get some outside, professional help with something.... and it keeps nudging in spite of your attempts to ignore or shhhh it away? If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions.... it's time.
WHAT IS THERAPY LIKE?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
HOW LONG DOES THERAPY LAST?
It would be so handy for me to have an exact answer to this question. But unfortunately, I don't. It's kind of like trying to tell you how long a piece of string is. It depends on how long the string is ... right?
There are many factors to consider, such as: What sort of life have you had before coming to therapy? Why are you deciding now to come to therapy? How long has the problem been in the making? How have you coped with the problem up until now? How have your ways of coping compromised your deeper sense of aliveness and well-being? What are your goals or hopes for therapy? How will we know when they have been met?
I know, lots of questions here. Some of these questions cannot be answered right away; they are answered during treatment through discovery and understanding.
Here's how you will gain the most benefit from therapy.
1. Look at the money you spend on therapy as an investment in your future. The benefits you experience will justify the expense.
2. Be an active participant to your fullest capacity. Your therapy will take work - on your part and on mine. If you don't put honest effort forward you won't feel as if you are getting your money's worth and you will likely resent the cost.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY FIRST SESSION?
Show up with the intention to be as open and honest about yourself as you can be. The first session is like a first date. I will want to learn about what is bringing you to therapy at this time in your life and hopefully you will be interested in filling me in. The likelihood is that there is much you will want to tell me and I’ll be listening carefully and giving you my full attention.
At the same time I am learning about you, something else will be going on that is very important. You will likely be asking yourself:
How does it feel to be in the room with her?
Do I like her?
Do I feel safe with her?
Does she seem like she will be able to help me?
Can I let my guard down with her and be myself?
And I will be asking myself:
What is it like being in the room with her/him/them?
What am I feeling as I get to know her/him/them?
Do I feel compassion, touched, moved? Do I like being with her/him/them?
Do I think I can help him/her/them?
Would I like to work with him/her/them?
By the end of the first session we will each have a sense of each other and will have talked some about the possibility of working together. Hard research has shown that the success of therapy is determined more by the quality of the relationship, than the theoretical orientation of the therapist. If the fit doesn't feel good to you, then you owe it to yourself to keep looking. If I don't think I will be the most advantageous therapist to work with you for whatever reason, I will tell you and make a good referral to someone who I think will be able to help you. If we decide to work together then we will schedule a next appointment.
WHY DOES THERAPY COST SO MUCH?
It may seem like therapists charge a lot of money, but believe me, the vast majority do not become wealthy from their private practices. Let me tell you why that is, and about the high cost of therapy.
Like anyone who works independently, therapist’s fees pay for office space, office supplies, advertising, websites, continuing education, outside consultations, medical and malpractice insurance, and vacation time. While companies commonly supply these accoutrements and provisions for employed professionals, those of us in private practice supply them for ourselves. This is why we will refer agency settings to people who need therapy at very low fees.
For most therapists a full time practice is 18-25 contact hours with clients each week. This is also true of therapists who are employed by organizations. The rest of our time we are marketing and promoting our practice, doing essential administrative work, and keeping up with new information through study, professional/peer consultations with other professionals, seminars and conferences. We are only paid for our contact hours with clients; we do not get paid for any of these other responsibilities necessary for maintaining our practice and license.
WHY DON'T YOU JUST WORK MORE CONTACT HOURS?
The nature of psychotherapy is intense, emotional, complex and concentrated. Our service is difficult to deliver hour after hour, day after day. Here's how it is for me. I work with my intellect, heart, intuition and body. I keep my heart and senses open to catch the nuance of feeling and meaning that you might not even be aware of. While I track what you are doing, saying, feeling, and not saying, I also track my own responses, instincts, intuitions, feelings because they inform me in many ways. And it doesn't stop there! I am also mindful of the relationship that is unfolding between the two of us. This quality of careful, focused attention can be intense and consuming. Therefore, it is vital for us to take our own advice and practice good self-care!
I also want to make sure that I am my best self when in session with you. Your time is valuable and I like to honor both our commitments to this delicate process. You deserve my undivided attention.
Like many therapists, I also set aside a portion of my time to see people who are in difficult financial circumstances one way or another: the poor, students, artists, veterans, the unemployed and underemployed.
HOW LONG ARE THE SESSIONS?
Fifty minutes. Sometimes people schedule 1.5 sessions, which is 75 minutes, or a double session which is 1 hour and 40 minutes. These longer sessions work really well for couples.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THERAPY AND COUNSELING?
I use the two words interchangeably. Not everybody does, so this is a great question to ask. I use both words because different people relate to one word more positively than the other. Some folks prefer the word counseling, others prefer therapy, so I use them both. To the degree that counseling implies advice or guidance and therapy implies change and healing, I see myself as more of a therapist than a counselor.
WHAT IS A MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST?
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are relationship specialists who treat persons involved in interpersonal relationships. They are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, family and social adjustment. The practice also includes premarital counseling, child counseling, divorce or separation counseling and other relationship counseling. Marriage and Family Therapists are psychotherapists and healing arts practitioners licensed by the State of California. Requirements for licensure include a related doctoral or two-year master's degree, passage of a comprehensive written and oral examination and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.
IS EVERYTHING I TELL YOU CONFIDENTIAL?
By law I am bound to protect your confidentiality. However, the exceptions to this are related to child or elder abuse, a threat to harm another person or if you are in danger of self harm. If you want to use a third party payer to reimburse you for your therapy session, it will be necessary to provide the information required by your insurance company which will likely include a diagnosis. If this is the case I will discuss with you what is disclosed to an insurer.
DO YOU TAKE INSURANCE AND HOW DOES THAT WORK?
I do not sit on insurance panels, which means I am an out of network provider. If you want to use your insurance you will need to contact your insurance company before our first session and ask them how much they will reimburse you if you choose to see an Out-of-Network licensed MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist). I will give you a bill for your sessions that will have all the required information an insurance company requires. You submit the statement/bill directly to your company. When the reimbursement check comes, it goes to you, not to me.
In order to make an informed decision about using your insurance to pay for therapy services, it is important that you know the following information:
1. Your insurance company will require a mental health diagnosis, which will become permanent on your medical records. This not only compromises your privacy and confidentiality, it may effect your future eligibility and cost if you wish to make a change in your insurance.
2. Your insurance company will allow a limited number of sessions for you, usually 8 - 12. This may or may not be a sufficient amount of sessions, depending on your goals and other factors that are listed in the answer to "How long does therapy last?"
CAN YOU PRESCRIBE ME MEDICATION?
No, but here’s the way it works: After evaluating your situation, we will decide if you need to speak with a psychiatrist who is a MD and is allowed to prescribe medicine. If we decide that medication might be beneficial, I have some very competent psychiatrists I work with. It’s always a good idea for someone who is taking medication to have his or her therapist (that’s me) in contact with the doctor who is prescribing medicine. That way you have a team working together on your behalf. Of course, this communication between psychologist and psychiatrist only happens if you give written permission for it to happen.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Call me! Or if you’d rather email me, that is fine too. You can go to the "contact page" on this website to do either. If you know that you want to get started, let's schedule a session. If you want to meet me and have a free consultation, let’s do that.