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Information about starting therapy and choosing a therapist:
- Is therapy right for me?
- Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
- Is medication a substitute for therapy?
- How do I choose a therapist for me?
Information about Financing Therapy:
- How much does therapy cost?
- Should I use my health insurance? Other options?
- Are there lower cost options?
What to expect
- What is therapy like?
- What does therapy require?
- How can therapy help me?
- How long does therapy take?
Therapy is for anyone interested in expanding their self-awareness and addressing problems that stand in the way of attaining your personal or professional goals. People come to therapy for all sorts of reasons. You may want to address long-standing patterns that are getting in the way of you living the life you desire. You may be challenged by anxiety or depression and know it’s time to seek extra help. You and your family may be facing hurdles and you want help to move forward. Or, you may be facing life or career changes or frustrations that are no longer palatable and you just want some help thinking through your options. People come to therapy for a myriad of reasons.
Ambivalence when considering or beginning therapy is very common. It can be a difficult decision and it is not unusual to feel embarrassment about needing help, reticence to meet with someone you do not know, or uncertainty about whether psychotherapy is for you.
To determine whether therapy is right for you I recommend reviewing my website and talking to friends and other therapists about their recommendations and ideas about therapy. Also, feel free to contact me at (510) 686-3773 to discuss your situation and a plan for deciding whether therapy is right for you.
We all face challenging periods. Often, we can work through issues with the help of family, friends, literature, self-reflection and time. The time to seek therapy arises when you or your family just can’t get beyond current hurdles, change reoccurring patterns or find yourselves on life paths that feel untrue to who you are and where you want to go. Therapy can provide you with life-long tools that will help you all to move in new directions and make adjustments along the way.
I strongly recommend that you do not wait until you are in crisis. Consulting with a therapist now may help you to address your or your family’s issues before they become completely overwhelming or lead to poor decisions that you may regret.
If you would like to discuss whether therapy is right for you or your family members at this time please call me at (510) 686-3773 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is most efficacious. It is important to work with your physician/medical doctor to understand medication options and what is best for you. Generally, medication addresses your symptoms while psychotherapy provides an opportunity to identify and address the causes of your distress and the behavior patterns and beliefs that get in the way of your progress and satisfaction.
Choosing the right therapist for you can be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Whether you are looking for help on a specific issue or are trying to change your life path your therapist will have an impact on how you see yourself, your problems and your options for the future. Clinical research has confirmed that a good fit with your psychotherapist will have a significant impact on your positive outcomes in therapy. I recommend meeting with a therapist one to three times to find:
- someone who is easy for you to talk with,
- someone who is a strong listener and who wants to understand you and your concerns and desires rather than prescribing a one-fits-all solution,
- someone knowledgeable about your issues and concerns, and
- someone you believe you might be able to trust over time with your frustrations, worries and vulnerabilities.
Questions you may want to ask in your initial meeting or telephone call include:
- How do you practice? Do you sit and listen or will you engage with me?
- What theories or approaches guide your work?
- Do you focus on my current problems only or address how I got here?
- Where did you receive your education and training?
- What is your fee?
- How does therapy work?
As mentioned, I recommend reviewing my website to begin to understand how to think about your therapy options. Talking to friends or family members who are in therapy may lead you to strong therapists and it is often a really good idea to ask therapists whom you respect for their recommendations for someone who may be a good fit for you. If you have additional questions or would like to set up an appointment to discuss your options please call me at (510) 686-3773 or email at email@example.com.
Information about Financing Therapy:
Psychotherapist fees range from $110 to $300 in the Bay area. These fees vary by clinician discipline and level of experience. There are many credentials available to psychotherapists. The typical credentials and fee ranges are listed below:
LMFTs are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. They hold a master’s degree in psychology or counseling. MFT rates for psychotherapy generally range from $110 to $160 per session.
LCSWs are Licensed Clinical Social Workers who hold a master’s degree in social work and often work in hospitals, clinics and agencies as well as in private practice. LCSW rates for psychotherapy generally range from $110 to $160 per session.
Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in psychology. The degree may be a PsyD (a doctorate with a focus on clinical work and research), a PhD (a doctorate with extensive primary research), or a DMH (a doctor of mental health). Psychologists are trained to provide psychotherapy and psychological testing such as ADHD screening, personality testing and IQ evaluations. Their rates range from $130 to $275 per session.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) and as physicians are licensed to prescribe medication. Their training (medical school followed by residency) covers general medicine with an emphasis on psychopharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on the mind and behavior) and less on psychotherapy. Psychiatrist rates for psychotherapy and medical evaluations range from $200 to $300+ per hour.
Range of health insurance coverage. Many health insurance plans cover some portion of psychotherapy. Sometimes your plan will cover a certain number of sessions per year. Other times, your plan will cover up to a certain amount per year, regardless of the number of sessions. Still other plans offer coverage if you use their providers while some plans may cover your psychotherapy if you carry a particular diagnosis. I recommend contacting your insurance carrier to better understand your options with your given plan. And as with other medical coverage, you may want to further investigate options when your annual or bi-annual options periods arise.
Privacy Considerations. In addition to financial considerations, you will want to investigate and consider questions of privacy in deciding whether or not to use your health insurance to finance your psychotherapy. Many insurance carriers require detailed paperwork including a requisite diagnosis, individual session notes and personal information about you and your treatment. Unfortunately, this information is often available to numerous gatekeepers, utilization reviewers and other employees. Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects some of this information, the implementation and review of HIPAA is often incomplete and a work in progress.
Health Spending Account options. In addition to using your post-tax dollars or health insurance to fund your therapy, you may want to consider using or establishing Health Spending Accounts such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to pay for psychotherapy on a pre-tax basis.
HMO and PPO coverage. If you need to pay for your treatment using your HMO insurance or in-network PPO coverage you may request a list of providers through your company’s human resources department or go directly to your insurance carrier. Then I suggest that you ask other therapists or friends for their recommendations and review the providers’ websites to narrow your choices. As always, when you meet your therapist for the first time, ask questions, try to imagine spending significant time with the therapist and only return if you believe you have found a good fit.
Sliding scale options. Many clinicians, myself included, reserve time to provide sliding scale therapy. If you hear or read about a clinician who appears to be a good match for you I recommend calling to inquire about sliding scale availability. Most clinicians offering sliding scale will require you to disclose financial information before establishing a lower fee.
Private practice clinicians-in-training often offer lower fees. Please call me at (510) 686-3773 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to provide you with contact information for well-trained, pre-licensed clinicians in private practice.
What to expect
Psychotherapy provides an opportunity to work with a professional who is trained to help you to identify and address your issues and concerns and develop and attain your own personal goals. You and your therapist will decide together how best to proceed. You may begin by discussing your concerns, problems and goals for therapy acknowledging that your needs and priorities may change with time. Your first sessions (generally fifty minutes) are a chance for you to decide whether you believe you can trust, respect and work with your therapist. Your therapy may be short-term to address a specific problem or question, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. You may decide that you want to meet weekly or more often. You can expect that no two therapy sessions will be alike. Sometimes you may want to be very practical addressing a specific issue. Other times you may wish to reflect on long-standing patterns and why they may exist. And most often, you may decide that a combination of approaches makes the most sense for you. Each session is unique to your needs and desires.
To get the most out of therapy you will want to be curious, as honest as possible with yourself and your therapist, able to sustain the discomfort of difficult subjects, and hold a desire to make changes to improve your life.
Psychotherapy can provide numerous benefits. Effective therapists provide support and enhanced coping strategies for a multitude of issues including depression, anxiety, trauma, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, anger management, and body image issues. In addition, therapists may provide problem-solving skills and effective approaches for addressing challenging family dynamics, life transitions such as the birth of a child, loss of a parent or divorce, and career challenges such as reentry into the work force, loss of a job or dead-end careers.
Therapists can provide a fresh or new perspective on a difficult problem and guide you in exploring solutions. Their services can be helpful in:
- Learning new ways to address stress and anxiety
- Working to manage anger, depression, grief and other emotional challenges
- Resolving long-standing patterns that block your progress
- Developing skills for improving your relationships with family, friends and colleagues
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your values and your goals
- Improving your communication and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or work environment
- Improving your self-esteem
If only there were a simple answer to this question! Your time in therapy is highly dependent on the issues you wish to tackle, the depth to which you wish to delve, and the practicality of your situation including your available time and financial resources. You may choose to work with a psychotherapist for a few sessions or for many years. You may wish to speak in person or explore the possibility of working by telephone or Skype when you travel. The duration and modes of your work will become clearer as you and your therapist begin to understand together your issues and personal situation. Addressing challenges such as parent-child interactions may only require a visit or two while fostering substantial emotional growth and laying the foundations for your new life path can require significant time, investment and commitment. Close work with a therapist you can learn to trust will help you to define your needs for therapy.