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Common Questions

How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits may come from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that therapists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and common challenges that arise in daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits from therapy can include:  
  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Living life in a manner that feels more in line with who you are
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional challenges
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.  
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need assistance, and that takes both insight and courage. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face. In addition to seeking therapy to remove deficits or overcome setbacks, many people also use therapy to make forward progress and accelerate their growth in certain areas of their lives. Consequently, therapy is not only about overcoming problems but also about moving forward, developing oneself, and fully embracing life.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods.  Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.   In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives. 
Finding a good match between a given patient and therapist is very important. If you go to one therapist and do not feel there is a good fit (due to the therapist's skill set, personality, or other factors), it is perfectly acceptable to try someone else. A therapist should have your best interest in mind and should never be offended if you wish to check around and try someone else. In fact, the first therapist may be able to provide names of other well-regarded providers that might be a better fit.
 
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 long-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 our work together 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, I 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.   

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist? 
Psychiatrists are physicians that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They have earned either an MD or DO degree. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, they complete four years of medical school and a four year residency in psychiatry. Today, most psychiatrists use medication as their primary treatment tool, though a few also provide psychotherapy. 

Psychologists, like myself, specialize in the assessment and treatment of emotional distress and mental illness. A psychologist’s primary tools include psychological assessment and psychotherapy. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, most spend about five years doing supervised clinical training and graduate coursework. Prior to obtaining their doctorate degree – PhD or PsyD - and becoming licensed, they also complete two additional years of full-time supervised clinical training. It is not uncommon for psychiatrists and psychologists to collaborate to help their patients. If you and I work together and I believe you may benefit from an evaluation for medication, I will discuss this option with you. If you see a psychiatrist or other physician and are prescribed medication I will then help monitor your response and provide feedback to your psychiatrist (or the primary treating physician), as needed. 
 
What is psychological assessment?
Psychological assessment is a non-invasive procedure that can be used to answer a variety of questions posed by a patient, parent (in the case of a child), and/or treating mental health professional. It is a tool for rapidly assessing psychological health, providing diagnostic information, and creating a “roadmap” for treatment. Testing is also a powerful tool for helping people develop deep insight and newfound empathy for difficulties they experience. Testing usually includes the following: obtaining assessment questions from the referring therapist or physician, the client working with me to develop additional questions to be answered by the assessment, completing paper-and-pencil measures, working on various puzzles, self-report tests, and problem-solving tasks, and completing computerized tests. Once testing is completed we will schedule a time to discuss the results and recommendations.  
 
How should I prepare myself/my child for a psychological assessment and what should I expect?
Please let me know if you have had prior testing and, if so, what that experience was like for you. I will be happy to address any questions you have prior to testing and to explore additional questions that arise when we review the results.
 
If you or your child will be testing for several hours, as is commonly the case, make sure you have eaten in advance so you will not be distracted by hunger. If testing is lengthy, I may have you take a brief break or suggest you eat a snack midway through the appointment.
 
For children, parents are encouraged to be actively involved in developing assessment questions at the start of the testing process. At times, it may even be helpful and appropriate for parents to be in the room with their child during portions of testing. Prior to the appointment, it often helps to reassure children that testing simply involves answering questions, perhaps working on puzzles, and doing written activities. Let them know that the purpose of testing is to help them, not to grade them or to see if they “pass” or “fail.” Finally, let your child know that psychological testing and psychotherapy are NOT like going to a doctor for a physical checkup. Psychological testing and psychotherapy never involve pinpricks, physical exam, or any invasive medical procedures. 
 
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.  Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. 
 
What is your therapeutic (theoretical) approach?
My approach to psychotherapy has been heavily influenced by the following theoretical orientations: cognitive behavioral theory and analytic/psychodynamic theories. These theories conceptualize the origins of and recommended treatments for emotional distress quite differently. However, these approaches can complement each other very powerfully when applied to therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) emphasizes treatment of immediate distress and more surface symptoms that are causing pain. CBT provides concrete strategies for changing thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors, which then result in relief of distress. CBT tools can be quite effective in helping treat the more immediate symptoms of depression, various forms of anxiety (including obsessive-compulsive disorder), phobias, and other common conditions. Analytic and psychodynamic approaches focus on identifying deep underlying processes that are generally outside of people’s immediate awareness. These processes affect how people cope with life stress, how people view themselves, and how they relate to other people in their lives. When underlying issues are brought to light, people become more aware of what motivates their behaviors and then are more able to change them. People experience relief from distress and increased sense of freedom in their choices and behaviors once underlying feelings and conflicts are uncovered and resolved. There are appropriate times to focus more on immediate relief of distress as well as times to focus more on underlying factors that drive recurrent relationship patterns, distressing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Often it is helpful to combine both elements in treatment.  

What is your style of counseling?
My counseling style depends in part on what I feel will be most beneficial to you at any given point in your treatment. At times I will listen closely and be more reflective. At other times I will be more active and ask you thought-provoking questions. In general, my aim is to help you make constructive changes in your behaviors and to help you develop more empowering ways of viewing or making sense of your life experiences. Empathy, support and encouragement are essential ingredients in this mix. Sometimes I may have specific suggestions or even recommend that you take certain actions or do “homework” between sessions as part of the process. I view therapy as inherently collaborative. For your treatment to be successful, you and I will work together as a team. You are the expert on you. Your participation and input will be very important. (Note: refer to therapeutic approach item, above, for further information)
 
How is coaching different from psychotherapy?
Coaching is NOT psychotherapy. Psychotherapy generally begins with a focus on treating diagnosable psychological disorders. Because of the vulnerability of individuals who come to psychotherapy, this is a special relationship in the eyes of the law, with specific rules and protections. Psychotherapy is more about healing, while coaching is about furthering growth from a starting point of health. Coaching assumes that you are emotionally healthy and able to participate equally in creating the future you desire.
 
In business environments, coaching can help professionals find clarity of purpose and foster a climate of healthy behaviors in themselves and - in the case of upper level managers - their employees. When people properly care for themselves, possess a clear sense of professional vision, and work in a manner consistent with their core values, energy and enthusiasm are magnified. Coaching benefits for business may include increased productivity, promotion of an inspirational work environment, higher levels of employee satisfaction/retention, and maximized profitability. 

Do you take insurance?
No, I do not file claims with insurance companies. This means that the full fee for my service is due at the time of the appointment. However, if you choose, you may of course submit claims to your insurance independently. I provide you with service bills (super bills) that include all relevant procedure codes and diagnostic information. Some insurance plans may reimburse you well for mental health services and out-of-network services while others may not. Reimbursement rates from insurance carriers vary greatly and are contingent on a number of factors. To determine your mental health benefits, you may contact your insurance provider by calling the customer service number listed on the back of your card.  Sometimes mental health services have a separate phone number - it may be listed as "behavioral health" on your card. You may be asked for my NPI number (National Provider Identifier) and/or EIN (Employee ID Number). For security purposes, I do not provide these numbers on my website. If the insurance provider does not already have my EIN or NPI number, I will be happy to give those to you by phone. Tell your insurance provider that they can verify my credentials through the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. Please contact me if you have other questions about insurance benefit determination or about my fee-for-service policy.

To determine if you have out-of-network mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them.  Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers.  

Please note: If your insurance does offer out-of-network coverage and reimburses for services, make sure they will send payment to you directly. I do not receive checks from insurance companies and will send them back if they are erroneously written out to me. Since I am already paid in full at the time of each appointment, I stay out of any financial transactions between my patients and their insurance companies. 

Some helpful questions you can ask your insurance provider:
  • What are my out-of-network mental health benefits?
  • What is the out-of-network coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many out-of-network therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician? 
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes.  My office accepts Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express cards, as well as Visa and Master Card ATM and debit cards.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a patient and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office.   I will provide you a written copy of my confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.  This is called “Informed Consent”.  Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
 
State law and professional ethics require me to maintain confidentiality except in the following situations:
 
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, vulnerable adults, and elders. In this case, I may need to involve the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the patient or collateral sources.
* If I have credible reason to suspect my patient is in imminent (near-term) danger of harming him/herself or has threated to seriously harm another person, I am also obligated to enlist the help of the authorities or otherwise breach confidentiality to ensure safety.
 

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