Is therapy right for me?
Seeking therapy is an individual choice. Most often you make the first contact on your own initiative, or on behalf of a child, family member, or friend. People come to therapy for many reasons. Sometimes it's about long-standing personal issues, or specific symptoms like anxiety or depression. Other times it's in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of a therapist as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, marriage problems, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change and growth.
I've always believed that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Haven't I failed myself if I need or want therapy?
No. Some problems are from a simple lack of information, like how to communicate so tough problems can be negotiated without damage. Others arise from early experience of trouble, like poverty or abuse, that required you to cope in ways that worked back then, but are troubling now. An example is emotional withdrawal for self-protection: it works to insulate you from some damage when you're young, but as an adult, it also insulates you from emotional intimacy with a partner or your own children. Adult trauma, like combat or rape, can be so traumatizing that it overwhelms your capacity to handle it. Any of these things can send you on a detour away from your own healthy living. Counseling and therapy can help you get back to your own "main road." The idea that it's weak or a failure to get that help is just incorrect. Remember that therapy doesn't "give" you anything except better understanding of and accessability to your own interior resources.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
Every therapy session is unique, responsive to the specific problems and goals you bring to the work. In the first session, I'll try to understand your issues in two ways: first, as you yourself understand and explain it; second, its meaning in terms of deeper psychodynamic, emotional, and relationship processes. You'll get as much feedback as i can give you on those things. In later sessions, we may get into your current complaints and their historical origins, the context of your current life and work, your dreams, and your visions of your own future. Sessions are scheduled for 50 minutes weekly for the first few weeks. Length of the work ranges from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the seriousness and complexity of the issues you bring. You may sometimes request, or I may recommend, longer or more frequent sessions. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping a journal or dream diary. Between sessions it is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between sessions.
What benefits can I expect from working with a therapist?
Therapy can provide insight and new perspectives into life's challenges and help create solutions to difficult problems. Many people find that working with a therapist can enhance personal development, improve relationships and family dynamics, and ease the challenges of daily life. Therapy can be a "midwife" to new aspects of your Self asking to be born. It can be therapeutic simply to finally express pent-up thoughts, problems, and feelings to someone you know will keep it private. Overall, therapy works. Research shows that people in therapy tend to have lower levels of anxiety and stress, decreased conflict, improved quality of life, and fewer medical problems. Their relationships improve, as does their productivity in work.
Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Developing new skills for handling stress and anxiety
- Modifying unhealthy behavior and long-standing patterns
- Getting insight into personal patterns and behavior
- Improving relationships with partners, children, and parents
- Increasing confidence, peace, vitality, and well-being
- Improving ways to manage anger, depression and moods
- Discovering new ways to solve problems
- Navigating life's obstacles more effectively
- Improving listening and communication skills
- Enhancing the overall quality of life
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
By federal law, insurance carriers for businesses with 50 or more employess must support "Out-of-Network" providers. (This is true of "major medical" coverage as well.) As of September 12, 2011, I am no longer on the provider panels of any insurance companies. Most insurance carriers will therefore cover a portion of my fees. In this case you pay me directly, and I provide you with the paperwork you'll need to get reimbursed by your insurance. Most carriers reimburse out-of-network at 60% of the provider's fee. Your cost of working with me would then be 40% of $130 or $52 (after deductibles). This statement is to help you estimate; it is not a guarantee of fees or reimbursement rates. See Note below.
NOTE: You are responsible for determining whether your health insurance covers mental health services or not, and what that coverage is. Call your insurance carrier and get the answers to the following questions:
- Do I have mental health benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- Is there a limit on the number of sessions per calendar year my plan will cover?
- How much does my plan cover for an out-of-network provider?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are number of exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s. The therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to enlist his or her cooperation in insuring safety. If he or she does not cooperate, further measures may be taken without permission in order to ensure safety.
- If a client files a complaint or lawsuit against the therapist. In this case the therapist is permitted to defend himself or herself -- only within the legal context of the complaint or suit -- using otherwise confidential information.
- If a client fails to pay overdue fees after reasonable confidential attempts to collect. The therapist is permitted to use the services of bill collection agencies and to report unpaid bills to credit reporting agencies.