Psychotherapy involves a special relationship between people in which attention to your needs is of utmost importance. It is expected that this relationship will be honest, trustworthy and dedicated to helping you develop greater understanding and skills to more successfully live your life in a gratifying and healthy manner. My primary interventions involve understanding, helping you gain insight, making suggestions and following up on your progress.
How do I know if I need therapy?
If you're thinking about therapy, it's possible that one or more of the following statements apply to your situation:
1. You are in crisis.
2. You have been suffering from chronic or worsening psychological/emotional pain.
3. You have been ordered to seek help from some government agency, employer or family member.
4. You wish to resolve some personal or relationship problem.
5. You are ready to consider the meaning of your life and to improve its quality.
Any of these are good reasons to seek help. You don't have to know whether you need therapy in order to consult a psychotherapist. Together you and your therapist can determine whether your concerns are normal, amenable to self-help or likely to be resolved in treatment. Sometimes, just talking with someone who will listen with empathy goes a long way toward relief. Regardless of your reasons, consider taking action as a sign of personal strength and an indication of respect for your personal wellbeing.
I am concerned about my drinking or other drug use (or the use of someone I care about).
Can you help me?
It's generally accepted that self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, (and Al-Anon for concerned others) in conjunction with personal counseling, offer the best recovery model for individuals who do not require inpatient detoxification and treatment.
Regardless of your desire for group help, individual treatment may help you to gain traction against formidable habits and patterns that have been insurmountable in the past or are beginning to trouble you.
My experience working with recovering individuals and their families dates back to the Viet Nam era when I was responsible for outpatient Chemical Dependency Recovery Services at Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu, Hawaii. My reputation for competency in treating persons with concerns about drinking, other drugs or behaviors (sex, gambling, internet etc.) has developed over decades based on the good work that my clients have accomplished with me in addressing these concerns.
Do you accept insurance?
I will provide the necessary forms for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement of the fees paid to me at the time of your office visit. You can determine the existence and extent of your plan's coverage for outpatient psychotherapy services by checking with your insurance provider. Please note that I am not a participant provider in any health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO). Some plans do provide coverage for treatment by a licensed psychotherapist as an out of network provider.
What difference is there between a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
and other kinds of therapists?
Clinical Psychologists are also trained in the practice of psychotherapy. They have received a doctoral level degree and gained pre and post-doctoral experience before taking and passing state licensing exams. Like LMFT’s, Clinical Psychologists in California are required to participate in continuing education. They sometimes specialize in the scientific evaluation of clinical data and are trained to use specialized tests for psychological assessment, such as I.Q. tests or personality inventories. Psychologists try to understand human behavior in an integrated, multi-dimensional fashion.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) who have chosen psychiatry, the treatment of mental illness, as a specialty. They have completed a residency in psychiatry, and are specialists in the prescription of psychotropic medications. They are the only mental health specialists who can prescribe drugs. Many psychiatrists use the medical model to understand human behavior.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) have received at least a master's level degree. They are trained in both psychotherapy and social interventions aimed at helping the individual cope with problems in his or her environment, or dealing with government or social agencies.
Other individuals may also offer mental health intervention or counseling, within the scope of their licensed practice and training. Examples include Master's level psychiatric nurses and non-psychiatric Medical Doctors. There are also non-licensed individuals who practice psychological counseling. They range from pastors or clergy, who have traditionally done this, and often have been trained for this role, to peer counselors or volunteers.
A note of caution: Buyer beware. Since unscrupulous individuals exist within every profession, it’s wise to inquire about a potential provider’s credentials when pursuing any form of counseling or psychotherapy.
How much does therapy cost?
My fee for individual or couple treatment ranges from $180-$200 per 50 minute session. Although I am not a participant on any insurance panels, your plan may provide some coverage for work with out of network providers. Please check with your insurer to see if this is an option. Lower cost treatment includes working with interns in training under licensed therapist supervision and seeking help from your local government’s department of Community Mental Health.
What should I look for in a therapist? How can I find a good one?
Choosing a therapist is a very personal process. First and foremost, it's important that you feel comfortable enough with your therapist to begin to develop a trusting relationship. A client/therapist relationship that deepens over time is a good indicator of the type of environment that supports personal development. Some therapist characteristics that tend to nurture and shepherd the process are honesty and a professional, non-judgmental, non-punitive manner. Respect for you as a separate, unique individual is also important. Equally relevant is the question of whether treatment is actually providing benefit. This question is usually answered over time. It is not unusual for therapist and client to periodically evaluate progress. A first joint evaluation can usually be made approximately 10-12 weeks after the beginning of treatment. At that time you can decide whether your goals have been accomplished, whether there is more to do, and what steps to take next. In the event that no benefit has been gained from treatment, you and your therapist should consider the possibilities of referral to another provider and whether therapy itself is appropriate.