About Psychotherapy: Frequently asked questions
(For information about the types of therapy I use, see Specializations page.)
WHAT DOES IT COST? My fee is in the mid-range for private practice psychotherapy in the Bay Area. It is my policy to disclose my fee during our first contact, before your first appointment. (Please note: I do not work directly with insurance companies, but many of my clients receive reimbursement upon submission of a statement I provide on a monthly basis. If finances are a concern for you in seeking therapy, please ask whether I have any sliding scale spots available when you call.)
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, you will need to call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is my deductible and has it been met?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING THE INITIAL APPOINTMENT? When we meet for the first time, I will conduct an intake interview. This is the beginning of my information-gathering process..
I will ask some factual questions (name, address, etc.), some questions about your physical health and about your family history. You will have ample opportunity to ask questions and begin talking about why you decided to seek therapy, and we will begin to formulate some goals. This is also an opportunity for you to get a sense of what it's like for us to work together. If after the first session we decide for any reason that your needs would be better served by someone else, I will do my best to provide more appropriate referrals.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? Length of treatment depends on individual needs. I can provide short-term therapy aimed at dealing with a specific problem, as well as longer-term therapy to help deepen self-understanding and promote healing of the wounds and hidden beliefs that may be at the root of specific or recurring problems. After I learn more about your needs and goals, I will be able to provide you with some idea of how long we might be working together. Sometimes people come in to deal with a specific issue and then choose to continue working with me.
HOW LONG ARE THE SESSIONS? Sessions are 50 minutes long. We will schedule regular sessions depending on your needs.
WHAT ABOUT MEDICATIONS? Only psychiatrists and other MDs are licensed to prescribe medication. I do, however, maintain a close working relationship with a psychiatrist who is knowledgeable, ethical, and caring. Many problems often improve significantly with psychotherapy alone, but I have seen some very positive results for non-situational depression and/or anxiety. If at some point we agree that medication might help, I would suggest that you make an appointment for an evaluation, however the final choice is always yours.
CAN I SEE TWO THERAPISTS AT THE SAME TIME? There are good reasons not to see two therapists at the same time and there are exceptions to the rule. Ethically, it is not appropriate for therapists to treat a person for individual therapy while they are being treated individually by another therapist without their knowledge. It would be similar to seeing two cardiologists for the same heart condition; both doctors may be well qualified but they each have their individual approach; it can compromise the treatment plan of both therapists and could exacerbate the symptoms that brought the client into therapy.
The exceptions to the rule include one-time initial interviews while trying to decide. It is perfectly acceptable to see more than one therapist on a one-time basis to find the best fit (though interviewing too many can cause confusion). Also, at times it is advisable to see two different therapists for different purposes, as long as both therapists are informed. For instance, if a mother wants family therapy, it’s appropriate to seek out a family therapist separate from her individual therapist. This is also true with couple's counseling.
WHAT DOES MFT STAND FOR? MFT stands for licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFTs are required to obtain a Master's level degree, complete 3000 of training, and pass rigorous testing prior to becoming licensed. They are qualified to conduct all types of counseling and psychotherapy. I specialize in individual psychotherapy.
HOW CAN I CHECK LICENSE STATUS? To check the license status of any licensed MFT, you can go to www.bbs.ca.gov, the website for the Board of Behavioral Sciences, a California consumer protection agency governing several types of licensed mental health professionals.