How do I know when it is time to see a therapist?

The very fact that you are reading this creates a likelihood that the time is near. Here are three questions for you to contemplate: Are you able to love and be loved in the ways you desire? Are you able to dream or set goals and pursue your dreams and goals? Do you know your self worth? Most problems that people bring to therapy are related to one or more of these questions. If you get a “no” on any of these questions, you are probably struggling in your life and could benefit from good therapy.

And here are some other questions that can help you clarify your need for therapy:

Is there a persistent problem, condition, and way of feeling or upset that has been bothering you for a while?

Is there something that you want to change in yourself or your life?

Are you tired of having the same conversation about something over and over in your head or with your friends, yet nothing seems to change?

Does the issue feel too big to tackle by yourself?

Are you tired of feeling the way you have been feeling?

Are you finally ready to do something about it?

Has that quiet, intuitive little voice inside of you been nudging you to get some outside, professional help with something…. And it keeps nudging in spite of your attempts to ignore or shoo it away?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions…. it’s time.

Why do I need a therapist? Why can’t I just talk to a friend or a family member?

A friend or family member is not professionally trained to help you grow, heal and change. It’s likely that your friends and family have been giving you their best advice for some time now, and if it were sufficient, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. But here is why your friend’s advice is different from a therapist. Your friends want to maintain your friendship so they will probably tell you what they want to hear. Also, they will give advice that is based on their life’s experience. A trained therapist is interested in helping you find your own answers by helping you connect with what is true and right for you.

How does therapy work?

Essentially, my job is to create safety and undo aloneness so you can free yourself to be yourself. Here is how it works.

When something really bad happens and we feel powerless to control our environment or our future, we create a psychological strategy to protect ourselves. These are called defenses. Defenses are not bad things; without them we literally couldn’t function.

The bad news is that defenses can interfere with your quality of life … your ability to love and be loved, to pursue goals or experience self worth. When that happens, my job is to help you work through or around these defenses. Many of these defenses developed outside of your conscious awareness during vulnerable times throughout your past. They are no longer necessary and are depriving you of experiencing the life that you want. Gently, compassionately and tenaciously, we dissolve these defenses so you can know and express your real nature.

I do this by helping you connect with yourself as deeply as you are capable. I also help you connect with me in an honest and deep way so you can experience the essential safety and security you need in order to heal. As we work together, new restorative experiences associated with feeling loved and whole become available to you. Your relationship to yourself, your life and others starts to deepen and expand. Fear gives way to freedom and curiosity. Anger gives way to acceptance. And sorrow eases, creating room for resilience, love and self- activation.

How will I know if you are the right therapist for me?

You really need to meet me face-to-face in order to get a good idea of what I’m like as a person and as a professional. At our first meeting you should keep these questions in mind:

How easy is it to talk to her?

Does she seem like somebody I could trust?

“Is she really listening to me?”

“Does she seem to know what she is doing?”

“Does she seem confident and competent?”

“Do I feel comfortable with her?”

“Could I ever show this person the deepest, ugliest parts of myself?

Does she seem to have the capacity to handle me?

Mostly, “Do I like her?”

How long does therapy last?

There are many factors to consider, such as:

What sort of life have you had before coming to therapy?

Why are you deciding now to come to therapy?

How long has the problem been in the making?

How have you coped with the problem up until now?

How have your ways of coping compromised your deeper sense of aliveness and well-being?

What are your goals or hopes for therapy?

How will we know when they have been met?

I know, lots of questions here. Some of these questions cannot be answered right away; they are answered during treatment through discovery and understanding.

Here’s how you will gain the most benefit from therapy. Be an active participant to your fullest capacity. Your therapy will take work – on your part and on mine. If you don’t put honest effort forward you won’t feel as if you are getting your money’s worth and you will likely resent the cost.

How do I prepare for my first session?

Show up with the intention to be as open and honest about yourself as you can be. The first session is like a first date. I will want to learn about what is bringing you to therapy at this time in your life and hopefully you will be interested in filling me in. The likelihood is that there is much you will want to tell me and I’ll be listening carefully and giving you my full attention.

At the same time I am learning about you, something else will be going on that is very important. You will likely be asking yourself:

How does it feel to be in the room with her?

Do I like her?

Do I feel safe with her?

Does she seem like she will be able to help me?

Can I let my guard down with her and be myself?

Hard research has shown that the success of therapy is determined more by the quality of the relationship, than the theoretical orientation of the therapist. If the fit doesn’t feel good to you, then you owe it to yourself to keep looking. If I don’t think I will be the most advantageous therapist to work with you for whatever reason, I will tell you and make a good referral to someone who I think will be able to help you. If we decide to work together then we will schedule a next appointment.

How long are the sessions?

50 minutes. Sometimes people schedule a 1.5 sessions, which is 75 minutes, or a double session which is 1 hour and 40 minutes. These longer sessions work really well for couples.

What is the difference between therapy and counseling?

I use the two words interchangeably. Not everybody does, so this is a great question to ask. I use both words because different people relate to one word more positively than the other. Some folks prefer the word counseling, others prefer therapy, so I use them both. To the degree that counseling implies advice or guidance and therapy implies change and healing, I see myself as more of a therapist than a counselor.

What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are relationship specialists who treat persons involved in interpersonal relationships. They are trained to assess, diagnose and treat Individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, family and social adjustment. The practice also includes premarital counseling, child counseling, divorce or separation counseling and other relationship counseling. Marriage and Family Therapists are psychotherapists and healing arts practitioners licensed by the State of California. Requirements for licensure include a related doctoral or two-year master’s degree, passage of a comprehensive written and oral examination and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

I’m very private and it is important to me that issues I talk about are confidential. Is my confidentiality completely protected?

Yes. By law I am bound to protect your confidentiality. The exceptions to this are related to child or elder abuse or a threat to harm another person. If you want to use a third party payer to pay for therapy it will be necessary to provide the information required by your insurance company which will likely include a diagnosis. If this is the case I will discuss with you what is disclosed to an insurer.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search