New to Therapy?

New to Therapy?Grace_Doors2
If you’ve never worked with a therapist before, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect.

What happens in therapy? We talk, but it’s quite different than a conversation with a friend. One of the most important differences is that the focus is entirely on you. Therapy is one of the few spaces — maybe the only place — where you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, being entertaining or polite, being judged or criticized. Therapy is a place where you can be you, uncensored, unfiltered.

Do you just sit there like a blank screen? No! It’s true that I listen more than I speak, but I’m definitely not “just sitting there.” I listen very carefully to everything you are saying — with your words, your tone, your body language. I let you know what I’m seeing, check if it matches your internal experience, ask you questions, guide you in examining your feelings and sensations in a deeper way than you do on your own. I work very hard to understand what it’s like to be in your shoes, so I can help you come up with ideas to shift what isn’t working for you.

Do I have to cry and talk about my childhood the whole time? You’re probably coming to therapy because something in your current life isn’t working so well. We will focus on the present, what happened in the recent days and weeks, as well as what is happening in the moment in the therapy session. I’ll ask if the way you’re feeling is familiar, if you can remember when you first felt anxious or depressed, and that might lead to some exploration of early experiences and relationships with parents, etc. But our focus usually returns to the present, how these old patterns and memories are impacting you now. And successful therapy isn’t measured by the volume of tears — you can bring your joy, your anger, your nervousness, your boredom, and yes, your sadness. I welcome it all.

Is there homework in between sessions? At the end of most sessions I suggest a topic for you to think on and journal about over the week. I have journal instructions and guidelines if that’s helpful. I occasionally invite you to try other experiments or activities between meetings as well, or suggest readings. It’s all optional, and I welcome feedback about what seems productive, annoying, impossible, scary, etc. The more engaged you are in therapy — both during sessions and in between — the more you will get out of it.

How often do we meet? Therapy works best when we meet consistently. The vast majority of clients meet once a week for 50-minute sessions, at the same day and time. Some people meet more frequently, and some, especially families or couples, meet for an extended session of 75 or 100 minutes. During the 15-minute phone consultation and our initial meeting, I will learn more about you, your struggles and your strengths, and together we will come up with a treatment plan that will benefit you the most.

How long does therapy last? Good question. It varies widely from person to person, and issue to issue. Some people come to therapy for a short time, like four to six months, to work on a concrete problem. Others find that their challenges are multifaceted, and affect many areas of their lives, and it takes longer to unravel and untangle all the threads. With longstanding emotional patterns that took decades to develop and get ingrained, it can take a while to break the old habits and develop new ones, to build new neural pathways. It’s always your choice to continue or stop therapy, and I will support you in whatever decision you make.

Can I use my health insurance? It depends on your particular health insurance plan. I recommend calling your health insurance and asking these questions:

  • Do I have out-of-network benefits for outpatient mental health care? If so, what is my co-pay?
  • Do I have to meet a deductible before getting coverage? If so, how much is my deductible and how much have I met so far this year?
  • How do I submit bills for reimbursement?

If you have out-of-network coverage, you pay in full at every session, and then send a receipt to your health insurance company. They will reimburse you directly for a portion of the costs. I offer a limited number of reduced-fee slots for people with financial need and no health insurance.

Can I afford therapy? Therapy is an investment in your health, your well-being, your success in relationships and work. You likely spend money to nurture your body by paying for gym membership, fitness classes, organic food, and doctor’s visits. Your mental and emotional health is just as important. You deserve to invest in your happiness. Please visit the contact page for more information about my fees.

 

Call  (415) 409-9023 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to find out more.

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