I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?

Not at all. People are ideally inter-dependent – we rely upon and help others.  If you’re used to having everyone rely on you, it is upsetting when you feel you have no one to turn to.  I can be that someone, but you won’t know unless you pick up the phone and give me a call.  You already have strengths and resources that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason aren’t effective right now. If you are overwhelmed, it’s difficult to see and use those resources.  In our work together, I’ll help you build upon your assets and expand them to face this and future challenges with confidence.  You’ll come away feeling stronger than ever – maybe even invincible.

What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?

Talking to a friend can be helpful or can backfire, plus a friendship has needs of its own – to have reciprocity.  If your situation brings up a great deal of negative emotions, you might not share with those you are close to, for fear of being a burden.  Or if you have been confiding in a friend or family member, there’s the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.  There’s also the possibility that your friend or family member will try to tell you what to do or give you unhelpful advice that can strain your relationship.

It’s easiest to share more deeply personal information with someone who’s not invested in getting their needs met by you and can focus on what you’re going through – someone who has professional training and experience.  A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself.  Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential.  You won’t have to worry about others knowing your business.

Why shouldn’t I just take medication?

Medication alone cannot solve all issues, because individual chemistry may not be the problem.  Sometimes lifestyle choices, social support, finding meaning in your struggle and problem-solving are what’s more effective.  Finding the right medication, when indicated, is also a process of trial and error and takes upwards of 6 weeks.  And there may be unwanted side effects.  While medication can be helpful, why not find out how well you can do with good therapy?  Sometimes, medication can reduce symptoms enough that you no longer feel the need to seek professional support – in which case, you may stay in a bad situation because you can tolerate it better.  Our work together will explore the root of your suffering, dig deep into your behavior and teach you new strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.

Medication is a personal decision.  I can work with your prescribers as a consultant if you like, to help you manage the process and use the least amount necessary to gain the most benefit.

How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?

You are unique.  We start with a meet and greet – over the phone and then in person to make sure it feels like you and I are a good fit to work together.  Then we meet for a 90 minute evaluation so I can begin to get a clearer picture of your history and factors that have contributed to your current difficulties.  We discuss a diagnosis and make sure you agree with my assessment, because it’s a collaborative process.  Then we work to clarify your goals for the outcome of our work early on.  Successful therapy has an end in site – you feeling better.  How we get there is unique – up to us to figure out the quickest, most effective way to get you from where you are to where you want to be.  It’s not a magical elixir and doesn’t produce instant relief, but most of my clients feel some relief within 1-3 months of working together.  Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, the process will be different for each person.  I try to adjust my therapeutic approach to your specific needs.

What is helpful for you to do is reflect on what you’d like to talk about before our sessions, to share what you’ve observed, practiced and succeeded at between sessions, and to share about your setbacks, challenges and desire in session.  You can ask questions, share anything related to your healing needs – physically, mentally, socially, financially, emotionally or spiritually, and give me feedback on how you feel the process is going.  It also helps if you are able to be receptive, open-minded and curious so you can learn new ways of thinking and responding.

How long will it take?

While I don’t have a crystal ball or employ genies to predict the future, I can say somewhere between 6 months and 3 years for most people.  The actual length of time will be determined by your specific goals, which we develop, evaluate and refine every 3-6 months.  Because your circumstances are unique, the length of time needed to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, your access to supports and resources in the community, as well as how much trauma you’ve endured, your physical health and your readiness to change.

I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?

I am so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions.  Stay focused on what you want rather than on what you don’t want.  Let the contrast between your current experience and your desired experience grow in the direction of your wellbeing, on all levels.  Get clear on what you really want.  Share that with me.  Your active participation and dedication is crucial to your success.  After all, we might see each other for one session every week or two.  It’s what you do outside of our sessions that will really help nurture your progress.

You can also let me know at any point, if the way I’m working with you leaves anything to be desired – honest feedback is also crucial to good therapy.  For this reason, I offer you a rating scale to fill out at the beginning and end of session periodically, to assess how the process is going from your perspective – so we can track changes over time.

How much do you charge and how can I afford it if you aren’t an in-network provider?

Therapy isn’t cheap.  Especially good therapy.  But then again…..it’s on a par or less expensive than what your plumber charges hourly, a new car payment, or a nice vacation.  Its value may prevent a divorce or job loss.   What is it worth to you to live your best life?  Therapy, like education, is in an investment in yourself.  We prioritize and invest in the things we most value.

By not participating in insurances, I can set a fair fee that works for us both.  My fees do change from time to time, and reflect multiple factors such as malpractice and liability insurance, continuing education requirements, business expenses, maintaining HIPAA compliance, and cost of living.

I love working with my clients, working on your goals, helping you heal.  I really believe I have the best job in the world.  I’ve worked hard for the appropriate qualifications & trainings to provide you with the best, most competent care available.  I don’t want to spend time negotiating on the phone with insurance companies, waiting months to get paid, hire others to do my billing or write reports and requests for more sessions – time that is not reimbursed.  I do my best work when I am focused on your wellbeing and mine.

I do offer a limited number of sliding scale slots, after the initial evaluation, @ $35 for those on SS disability or state insurance, and $75 for those whose insurance doesn’t cover out-of-network services and are in financial need.  This benefit may be time-limited to 6 months, to allow others to have affordable access.  Once I’ve met my allotted number (25% of my caseload), I don’t over-extend my generosity, so I can stay in the business I love.  Self-employed therapists don’t get paid on sick days or vacation days, so my fees need to reflect those days, too.  I follow a formula that helps me determine my fee structure, so it’s not just guess-work.

My initial evaluation fee of $175 for 90 minutes applies to all clients (even those on sliding scale) and has been in place since 2013 and will change Jan. 1, 2018 to $195. Individual sessions lasting 60 minutes currently cost $136 and will change to $145 starting Jan. 1, 2018.  I prefer to work in a 60-minute session format rather than the 45 – 50 mins designated as a “typical” session length by insurance companies. But it is an option, to have a shorter session, if you are able to be very targeted and focused or simply want a shorter time as a check-in or to save on cost.  We can discuss these details in our meet and greet, which is free.

If you have out-of-network insurance benefits or a health spending account, we can submit invoices for you to get reimbursed for your expenses per your policy’s terms or simply charge your HSA card for our sessions.

My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?

If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would like to have a consult as a couple, that’s an option.  It’s often helpful to both do individual counseling separately, (with two different counselors) before beginning couples work (with a different therapist who specializes in couples work).  This way, you will know some things to focus on to become the best partner you can be rather than relying on your partner to get their act together to make you happier.  Happiness is an inside job.  Strengthen the individuals, and the relationship will either improve or it will become clearer that you’ve grown in different directions and need to conclude the relationship.  You can read through and practice some of my helpful tips for mindful relationships here.

Have other questions?  

Give me a call and let me know, I’ll be happy to address them.  Thank you for taking the time to read through these.