Who will answer my phone call or email message?
If I am unavailable at the time of your call, I will personally respond to your message as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours, unless it is a weekend or holiday. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or Austin Travis County Psychiatric Emergency Services at 512-472-HELP (4357).
What happens during the initial phone consultation?
The initial consultation is a brief telephone conversation (10-15 minutes) where I will assess your needs and determine if I am the right therapist for you.
What will my first appointment consist of?
We will discuss in greater detail the issues prompting your call, your goals, what you have done to address your concern(s) so far, and together, begin to outline a strategy to address your concerns.
What is the length of a typical session?
Typical therapy sessions are 50 minutes.
I’ve never talked to a therapist. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the capacity to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have considerable strengths, but for whatever reason, they are not currently effective. Perhaps your situation feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your underlying strengths and values. In our work together, I’ll help you identify those strengths and values and how to effectively employ them to address what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to a therapist or my best friend or family?
One major difference is that professional therapists have considerable training and experience interacting with individuals with the issue you are experiencing and resolving them. Professional therapists can help you approach your situation in a new way, teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. While family and friends can be helpful in many instances, people often don’t want to share too many intimate details with those closest to them or risk feeling like they are overburdening the relationship.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, the therapy process depends on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. Your role in the process is to be curious, genuine, open-minded, and committed to making the necessary changes to benefit your life.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
Your active participation and dedication, within and outside of sessions, is crucial to your success. While the work we do in session will identify effective strategies to address your concerns, it is the work you do outside of sessions that will have the biggest impact on your overall well-being.
How long will it take before I feel better?
Most people experience some immediate relief due to increased hope that they will be able to take charge of the issues that are affecting them. Therapy can be short-term (2-4 sessions) for less complicated issues, or longer-term (6+ sessions), to deal with more challenging difficulties. Each person’s situation is unique. It is most common to initially meet weekly and then space sessions out as you see progress. My approach is to provide therapy for the briefest amount of time needed to give you the confidence to successfully address the issue(s) that brought you to therapy.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication alone cannot solve all issues. Medications are designed to treat symptoms. Our work together is designed to explore the root causes of issues, carefully explore thoughts and behaviors, and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal goals. Medication can be very effective, however, and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy. If medication appears warranted and you would like to learn more, I will refer you to a medical provider to discuss your options.
What is the typical waiting period for a new client?
I will make every effort to make room for a client who is a good match, and to never take on a client who is not a good match. I will let you know about any waiting list and timeframe during our initial phone consultation.
What insurances do you take?
I am fee for service and do not bill any insurance companies directly. I will provide itemized receipts that can be submitted as out-of-network claims to your insurance company. Regardless of your insurance plan, you should always clarify with your insurance company the mental health benefits your plan allows.
Why do you not bill insurance companies directly?
There are several reasons I choose to do this:
- Insurance companies can, and often do, make changes to the payment policies of their plans and the process for reimbursement. These changes are not always in the clinical best interests of clients/members.
- Insurance companies want a psychiatric diagnosis and will then determine how many sessions they will cover based on the diagnosis provided. This information often becomes a permanent part of your medical file and might increase the cost of your future health insurance premiums.
- Not all the reasons for coming to see a psychologist require you to be labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis. There may be situational issues that an individual or family is facing, developmental phases that a child is going through, or personal growth challenges that a client needs to confront. Many of these issues may not require a psychiatric diagnosis.
What is your policy regarding confidentiality?
Confidentiality is a strict guideline in the practice of psychology protected by state law and by the rules of the profession. All information concerning patients is held confidential and is released only through procedures consistent with the law and professional ethics. Psychologists cannot even acknowledge that a person is a client. Exceptions include:
- The client has signed a written release allowing the psychologist to speak with a specified person
- There is evidence of child, elder, or animal abuse
- There is an imminent risk of a client harming themselves or another individual
Outside of these exceptions, I uphold a client’s confidentiality.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I can only continue with one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.