Frequently Asked Questions
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, neurodiversity, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, work stress issues, and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Discovering courage and confidence to live authentically
Developing skills for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improving communication and listening skills
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Revealing life passion and meaning
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. My philosophy of client-centered therapy means you are in the driver's seat. I can help you clarify your goals, intentions, and desired outcomes then guide you on the journey; however, you set the pace and always have the right to change directions. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. When therapy is at its best, clients can take insights gained and turn them into action. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics or keeping a dream journal, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. If it is appropriate and something you would like as part of your treatment plan, I can collaborate with your primary care physician or psychiatrist on your treatment goals.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have behavioral health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
What are my behavioral health benefits?
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?
I am currently a provider for Anthem Blue Cross, MediCare, HealthNet, Aetna, and MHN and Magellan Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and a contracted provider for CuraLinc EAP plan and Optum Behavioral Health. I am not a preferred provider for any other insurance plans but in some cases I can bill your insurance directly so you are only responsible for your co-pay or co-insurance amount. If you have Blue Shield of California managed by Magellan, you may be able to use your insurance benefits if there is reason you cannot use an in-network provider.
Who uses coaching?
Clients are individuals who want to achieve a higher level of learning, life satisfaction, and/or professional performance. The client is capable of taking action to move towards a goal with the support of a coach. If prior attempts to achieve similar goals have been met with personal barriers, the client is able to receive feedback and take action to overcome internal barriers to change and grow.
Strong candidates for coaching are:
1. Ready to embrace your reality and accept responsibility for where you are.
2. Willing to learn how to manifest results and well-being.
3. Wanting to partner with a coach in a collaborative learning process.
4. Able to responsibly pay coaching fees.
5. Emotionally healthy enough to engage in a personal and professional growth process.
6. Ready and eager for growth, personal responsibility, and action.
7. Courageous, curious, and open to feedback.
What are the benefits?
Just as in the case of top athletes, working with a coach can help to strengthen, harness, and focus your innate talents and abilities. This is achieved by identifying strengths and areas for growth, creating practices that build on and develop your innate gifts and talents, helping you navigate barriers that have inhibited your growth in the past, and clarifying new opportunities for expanding and transforming your life.
A Taoist instructor of mine used to say "You can't see your own eye." The only way to see your own eye is to look in a mirror or reflection. In coaching, this idea refers to the fact that there are parts of ourselves that we cannot see---our blind spots. In order to gain awareness, we must be open to feedback and reflection by others. A coach provides this feedback and is skilled in helping you move from awareness to insight and from insight to action.
What is the difference between therapy and coaching?
There are three primary differences that distinguish coaching from therapy: behavioral health versus non-behavioral health concerns, training, and scope.
Behavioral Health versus Non-Behavioral Health Concerns
In today's managed care environment, therapy is primarily a health services provided to address behavioral health issues that are having a negative impact on areas in a person's life. For example, a person suffering from depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be having difficulty with social relationships, managing stress at work, or marital satisfaction. A person suffering from anxiety may find it difficult to feel comfortable in social situations or make advances in work. The main issue in therapy is managing and addressing the behavioral health concern through therapeutic interventions with or without medication. Because therapy is a medical service, many health insurance companies will cover therapy just like any other diagnosable health condition.
Coaching is appropriate when there is not a behavioral health condition but a person is still experiencing challenges in their life that have not responded to the client's current skill level. Coaching can help client's gain insight and competency in new skills and approaches that result in greater life satisfaction. Again, they key distinction is that there is not an underlying mental health condition.
Therapists must have a minimum education level of a Masters degree and psychologists must have a Doctorate. Both Masters degree clinicians and PhD therapists must have a minimum of 3000 hours of supervised hands-on experience (most have more) and hold a professional license valid in the state in which they practice. Therapists' clinical practice and training are regulated by a state governing board. Accredited degree programs must ensure that clinicians are trained in specific clinical and therapeutic areas, such as systems theory, group dynamics, learning theory, cognitive and behavioral theory, couples dynamics, psychopathology, diagnosis, statistics, personality theory, therapeutic skills and presence, cross-cultural counseling, crisis, domestic violence, suicide assessment, and human development.
Coaching is an unregulated profession. There is no training or licensing requirement; however, many coaches seek out training in coaching skills. The International Coach Federation (ICF) has established guidelines for coaches and coaching training programs, such that coaches can perform in 11 recommended competencies: 1) meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards, 2) establishing a coaching agreement, 3) establishing trust and empathy, 4) coaching presence, 5) active listening, 6) powerful questioning, 7) direct communication, 8) creating awareness, 9) designing actions, 10) planning and goal setting, and 11) managing progress and accountability.
Although I hold both a doctorate in psychology and have training and experience in coaching, as a coaching client, clear boundaries will be established to ensure your coaching program stays within the domain of professional, leadership, relationship, or life coaching.
How long is a coaching program?
The length of a program depends on your needs. Some clients have very specific goals around which a structured program can be designed and implemented. Other clients choose a more open-ended, exploratory process, using coaching to increase awareness and effectiveness in all dimensions of their life.
The length of a coaching program also depends on your readiness to transform your life. Here are some examples of typical program lengths based on your level of readiness:
3 months: A three month program is typically sufficient for those in the Contemplation stage of change, interested primarily in learning more about the possibilities of change and growth. You may be aware of areas in your life or work that you would like to improve, but at this stage you are not yet ready to embark on a program of change and transformation.
3 to 6 months: A three to six month program is typically sufficient for those in the Preparation stage of change. This stage combines intention and behavioral criteria. Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action in the past year. Part of this program involves identifying the barriers that have inhibited success in the past and developing strategies and practices to foster the competency and courage to move into action.
6 to 8 months: A six to eight month program is typically sufficient to address the tasks of the Preparation stage and Action stage. Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.
Periodic Check-in: Periodic check-ins are valuable to support the Maintenance stage of change. Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent returning to old habits and to consolidate the gains attained during the action stage.
How often do we meet?
Coaching conversations take place weekly, either face-to-face for local clients, or via telephone or video-conference for remote clients. Professional and Leadership Coaching may include on-site observation as part of the assessment process.
What is the cancellation policy?
You must cancel your coaching or psychotherapy session 24 hours in advance. Missed sessions that are not communicated 24 hours in advance are charged at 100% of the normal hourly fee. Health insurance will not cover missed appointments.
Does what we talk about in therapy or coaching remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to break confidentiality in the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection Service and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect a threat of damage to property made by a client is serious and/or immanent.