Therapy itself is based on curiosity and the willingness to ask questions...both of oneself and others. I also believe that curiosity is one of the most important capacities for a therapist to develop! Here are some of the frequently asked questions that come up around the therapy process. If you have any other questions, feel free to call me at 707-529-3030 and I will be glad to answer them.
How will I know that I need therapy?
The best way is to listen to the part of you that is wiser and is consistently telling you that it would be a good idea to seek some guidance. Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself: Are my relationships working in a way that supports me and allows me to be close with others? Am I able to set goals and standards for myself, then keep them? Do I feel an adequate sense of self-worth? Am I satisfied with my work in the world? Does my life have meaning and give me satisfaction? Most problems that people bring to therapy are related to one or more of these questions. If your answer is "no" on some of them, you are probably struggling in your life and could benefit from therapy or coaching. Here are some other questions that can help you clarify your need for therapy: Is there a persistent problem, condition, or relationship that has been bothering you and doesn't seem to resolve? Is there something that you want to change in yourself or your life? Are you tired of having the same conversation about something over and over in your head or with your friends, yet nothing seems to change? Does the issue feel too big to tackle by yourself? Are you tired of feeling the way you have been feeling and finally ready to do something about it?How will therapy help me?
Essentially, when we have difficult experiences we can feel powerless to control our environment or our future, so we create a psychological strategy or pattern to protect ourselves. These patterns are not bad in and of themselves; without them we might feel at a loss of how to keep going. But sometimes they can be so rigid that they interfere with our quality of life and our ability to connect with others. They can also keep us from connecting with our Higher Power and having a meaningful spiritual life. In addition, they often prevent us from knowing what we want in life and how to pursue goals. They make it difficult to experience a sense of self-worth or develop the inner discipline to work toward what we want to accomplish. Our job in therapy is to work with these patterns--many of which developed outside of your conscious awareness during vulnerable times in the past. Usually the high level of protection these patterns provide is no longer necessary. We carefully work with them so that you can create new ways that serve you much better; then you can explore the many different parts of yourself instead of having to be rigid and defensive.Why do I need a therapist or coach? Wouldn't talking to a friend or a family member work just as well?
A friend or family member is usually not trained to help you grow, heal, and change. It's likely that your friends and family have been giving you their best advice for sometime now, and if it had been sufficient, you probably wouldn't still be having the challenges that are bothering you. Here is why your friend's advice is different from doing therapy: friends want to maintain your friendship so they will sometimes tell you what they think you want to hear. They also may not want to hurt your feelings so they don't really give you the important input that would actually start the change process. Another issue is that they will often give advice based on their own life experience, whereas an experienced therapist wants you to find your own answers by helping you connect with your inner guidance system and understanding your particular path.How will I know if you are the right therapist for me? We really need to meet face-to-face in order for you to get a good idea of what I'm like as a person and as a professional. At our first meeting you might want to keep these questions in mind:
- How easy is it to talk to this therapist?
- Does this therapist seem like somebody I could trust?
- Is this therapist really listening to me?
- Do I feel comfortable with this therapist?
- Could I ever show this person the deepest, least acceptable parts of myself?
- Does this therapist seem to have the strength, calmness, and capacity to handle issues I am bringing to therapy?
Can you prescribe medications?
California does not yet allow psychologists to prescribe medications and my intent is that our therapy can be effective enough to prevent you from having to take them or if you are currently on them, to help you wean off of them when you are ready. In the meantime, I will be happy to coordinate with your primary care doctor or psychiatrist to determine the need for medications in your recovery. I will also refer you to practitioners who can provide other modalities such as body workers, physicians, or other trained professionals. Together you and I can determine which is the best direction.What are the benefits of therapy? The benefits of therapy have been demonstrated in numerous studies. In research done by Martin Seligman about the effectiveness of therapy he found:
- Psychotherapy produced positive effects in 92% of respondents.
- The longer people stayed in therapy in order to effectively resolve their issues, the better their results.
- People that were active in therapy did better than those that were passive. People that actively engaged by being open, asking questions, and following up did better.
- For most psychological conditions, people who did only therapy had as good of outcomes as people who had medication plus therapy.
- Respondents who stayed in therapy only until insurance coverage allowed did worse than those who stayed until their challenges had been resolved.
A clinical psychologist has usually had 2 more years of schooling than an MFT and can administer certain kinds of tests for their clients. PhD psychologists have also done their own original research. I did my research and wrote my subsequent dissertation on how we as individuals and our culture marginalize anomalous experience...such events as near-death experiences, pre-cognitive dreams, unusual synchronicities, out-of-body experiences, and the like. I have included the first chapter of my dissertation under the section called "Writings." This research process took roughly 4 years and was very intense, but fascinating!Will therapy work for me?
I have seen therapy be so effective for so many of my clients who wanted to create lasting change in their lives that it has given me a lot of faith in the process. The outcome of a client's therapy depends on many things, including motivation for change, level of comfort with change, and the relationship between client and therapist. Sometimes therapy can be uncomfortable as people face the pressure of old patterns/behaviors and the realities of their life situation, but the benefits can be so significant that it's generally worth the effort.How long will I need to stay in therapy?
Remember that it is always your choice of how long to remain in therapy. That said, is can be difficult to predict at the start of therapy how long it will need to last to be effective. Some of it depends on how deep a client's patterns are and how much time and energy they can put into therapy outside their regular appointment(s) each week. By reading books, journaling, attending workshops, as well as listening to videos and programs, the therapeutic journey moves more quickly. There are many factors to consider, such as:
- What sort of life have you had before coming to therapy?
- How long has the problem been in the making?
- How good of a support system have you developed?
- How have you coped with the problem up until now?
- How have your ways of coping compromised your deeper sense of aliveness and well-being?
- How high are your goals for therapy?
Using your insurance for therapy is something we will discuss before your first session. If we use your insurance, it will be necessary for me to give you a "parity diagnosis." We will talk about what that means and if you want to continue to use insurance or chose to do "private pay." By law I am bound to protect your confidentiality, which means I will only reveal information about you if you wish it, as in the case of helping you to get insurance benefits. The exceptions to this confidentiality would only be in cases of child or elder abuse or if you made a threat to harm a specific, identifiable person.What should I expect during the first session?
During our first visit, I help you start to feel safe in the therapy container so that we can develop the trust necessary to do therapeutic work together. Everything we discuss will be considered confidential. We will talk about what is bringing you into therapy and you will help me understand what you want to achieve by doing therapy. You will be free to ask any questions and only share what you are comfortable with telling me at this point. We will schedule a follow up appointment based on this first meeting.