Common Questions

Is therapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a separation, loss of relationship, adjustment to forced change, repeated crises, trying to learn to live without substance use, coping with depression, bipolar disorder, or a new diagnosis of a medical condition. Also, many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. It is really amazing to see the gains that can happen with one good year of personal therapy. People who are facing a medical or other stressful issue, coming to terms with relationship changes, trying to establish a foundation after experiencing early recovery from addictions, or struggling to face and rediscover yourself know all too well how frightening and lonely this can be without the support of someone who can understand and guide you through to a positive resolution. Often times, issues come from family of origin issues, where family members unkowingly left a mark that we carry through life. Perhaps you have heard the term "wonded warrior"? This is a good example of how the wounds we experience in life shape and change us. While we become more sensitive and compassionate, we also have wounds that cause us emotional pain. These can interfere and disrupt the way we live our lives in such a way that we cannot experience joy, satisfaction, or the confidence that life is going well and things will work out for the best.

This is also true with students who are participating in therapy to address any personal barriers in their development as a therapist, finding the balance between wanting to be an effective therapist but being new to how the therapy process unfolds. MFT Interns and students are able to earn personal therapy hours toward CA BBS licensure.

As an MFT in California, licensed since 2002, I am able to provide the support and encouragement while helping to ignite the spark that promotes positive change in your life. I have been providing formal clinical treatment and training for several years to many clients, including people with serious mental illness, people in early substance use recovery, LGBT, HIV, developing therapists, and I will always remain sensitive to the issues that emerge in your personal development.

Also, by participating in therapy during the first year after a life changing event, or as you orient to the therapy process as a developing therapist, you gain the opportunity to build a much stronger foundation while creating ways to embrace life instead of feeling defeated from its challenges. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards positive change in their lives. Don't let those uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings take over and own your life. Make a plan, work through them, and be happy with the person you are!

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 a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. 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. Take, for instance, the process of coming out. For LGBT people, this can be a very emotional process where fear and shame force you to stay hidden. Coming out does not happen in one swoop! We gradually come out, to close friends, families, co-workers, and finally the community. Ironically, as we grow older we keep coming out in different ways. As you establish a profession, the issue of whether to be open or guarded about your sexual oreintation continues to emerge. This becomes an emotional decision that can be overwhelming. Relationships can throw us as well, especially if that special person decides it is not working and abruptly ends the relationship. Or. maybe we are changing in the relationship and not coping well, not caring for ourselves, etc., and fear losing ourselves altogether. As we age, we face new challenges, and without many role models, it can often feel like you are grasping in the dark without knowing where to turn.

For the developing therapist, your participation in therapy gives you exposure to the therapuetic process as you work on the tools you need to remove blind spots, avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face. And, you can resolve potetial countertransference issues that happen because you reach your boundaries of being effective in the moment. You can greatly benefit by the seasoned experience of a caring therapist who can help guide you through the process of challenging, resolving and overcoming these barriers so you can work more comfortably with a much wider group of clientele.

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies to attack and defeat those awkward feelings that rise from uncertainty, fear, anger, discouragement, hopelessness - the momentary signals that your buttons are being pressed! You can address self and identity issues to feel more whole and complete. Also, for issues such as leftover family-of-origin issues, depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks, therapy can offer you the tools to build a foundation and be the authentic person you strive to be. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of 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 available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships, or better manage symptoms and conditions so they don't interfere with your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving interpersonal communications and listening skills
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
  • Building on behavioral patterns that move you forward in life in a positive direction.
  • For the developing therapist, psychotherapy offers you a way to proces the personal experience of your journey as you become the therapist you want to be, and it provides you the focus and support to identify and resolve any issues that would have become a barrier in the way of helping others. Reduce and resolve your blind spots and personal issues. You can also develop skills to improve your relationships with clients who bring up charged issues you may not have dealt with well before your own participation in therapy.

What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. 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 records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
  • Creative expressive and play based approaches whenevr possible
  • Use of current evidence-based practices
  • Hard work, but often enjoyable and rewarding as well!

Is medication a substitute for therapy?

In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you. 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.

What do I need to have in place before I start therapy?

In order to successfully engage in therapy, you will need to make ure you hav your basic needs met first. This means you need to have stabile living situation, have an income that allows you to pay rent and purchase the baics like food, utilities, and care items. If you are recovering from substances, you need to be willing to use your support system to reach and remain clean and sober. Sometimes, residential detox and rehab must be completed before you can siuccessfully engagee in therapy. You will also need to have a crisis plan to help you in case life unravels. We can put this together at the start of therapy if you don't yet have one.  Lastly, you need to have a dedicated way to pay for therapy. 

 Do you accept insurance? How much does therapy cost?

At this time, I accept out-of-pocket, HSA, PPO, and a small number of insurance reimbursement plans,. For the most current info, see the Rates & Insurance page on this website. 

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.

However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.

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