I don’t have a mental illness. Don’t you have to be sick to see a therapist?
Absolutely not! In my practice, I’ve chosen not to treat severe mental disorders. I help average people like you and me who could use some coaching and mentoring to improve some aspect of their life. There’s nothing “wrong” with folks who hire a personal trainer, right? They’re actually seen as healthier for hiring a coach. Why not invest in your emotional health or relationship satisfaction and working with a “life coach” or “relationship trainer”? People who ask for help know that it’s worth getting emotionally healthy. I’ll help you see your strengths, capitalize on them, and reduce the influence of the problems you’re facing.
What’s the difference between talking with you vs. a good friend or family member?
Speaking with a licensed therapist is different from any other relationship you’ll ever have—it’s the only time it’s 100% about you! Regardless of how close you are to someone, you’ll always be expected to listen to them at some point, be polite, and take into account their feelings, beliefs, experiences, etc. As a therapist, I’m trained to keep it all about you! I’m also mandated by law and the ethical rules of my license to strictly keep your confidence—I can’t divulge anything you share with me (unless not to do so would endanger you or someone else). Sometimes the best therapy is hearing yourself talk. Depending on the subject, openly sharing certain things might leave you questioning how a non-trained listener might react.
Isn’t there medication for this?
Here are my thoughts on psych meds: they can save lives! Unlike some steroids or antibiotics which correct and heal, most psychotropic medications are aimed at symptom relief. They help as long as you take them, but once you stop, the problem resurfaces. When you’re facing a behavioral or emotional challenge (I don’t see them as illnesses, if so, we’re all sick!), experiential therapy and psycho-education is more likely to bring about true change. I value psych meds like I do the water-wings young children use while they’re learning to swim. Fill them with air, slide them onto the kid’s arms, and they give her the confidence she needs to get in the water and learn. As you gradually let more air out each day, soon enough the child is depending solely on their own ability to swim. Working on intrapsychic challenges can be terrifying for many of us, and if meds can give you the confidence to get in the water, I see no reason to avoid them. RECOMMENDATION: whenever you consider psych meds, it’s better to consult a psychiatrist or a psychopharmacologist who specializes in matching meds and doses with different individuals. That’s better than a family practitioner prescribing Prozac to anyone who seems depressed.
How does it work? What do we do in a session?
I generally chat with you by phone to make sure I can help before we set an appointment. When we meet, I’m pretty casual and unstructured as we explore how I might help, and then I tailor my approach to each individual. I don’t use a cookie-cutter approach with everyone.
How long will it take?
It’s not possible to say on an FAQ page how many sessions you will want to reach your goals for therapy. Ballpark? A vast generalization is to say that many couples see me weekly for 5 to 8 weeks before slowing down to monthly and bi-monthly check-ins. Men in sexual behavior recovery often think about slowing down session frequency after 3 or 4 months. I can almost guarantee you’ll be different from these numbers, though.
How do you feel about A.A. and other 12-step programs?
I believe the 12 steps are the most effective way to change a problem behavior or curtail use of an unhealthy substance. Many people have trouble accepting they have an addiction. I’m not going to shove it down their throats, nor do I even know if they have an addiction (see this section of my website). The way I see it is, you have something like an allergy to something you’re doing (or ingesting)—while others do it and are fine, you do it and your life gets rougher or falls apart altogether. If you will commit to an experiment for a finite period of weeks or months to living like you’re an addict, the worst outcome would be learning that you’re not an addict after all and still learned things that make for a stable and wonderful life. If it turns out you do have an addiction, you learn how to recover from it and still have a pretty awesome life.
In short, I don’t think insurance panels are good for the therapist OR for the client. See this page for more detailed reasons I’ve chosen not to be on insurance panels. BUT . . . if you have PPO coverage and would still like to use insurance, I will happily provide paperwork for you to mail in, and your insurance company will reimburse you directly.