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Common Questions


How can therapy help me?

Welcome. I look forward to helping you and your family find meaningful solutions to the challenges you are facing right now. Beginning the important work of therapy is often a difficult decision. Even after your initial appointment has been made, you may feel both eager to begin as well as uncomfortable about coming in for your first meeting with your therapist. Many people find the thought of beginning therapy unsettling until they actually start the process. Then they feel more comfortable. Now that you’ve taken the first step toward working on some of the areas of concern in your life, try not to let some initial discomfort keep you from pursuing what you just decided to do. Before your first meeting, you might think about what you hope to gain from therapy and what is most important to you. Some clients have found that jotting down notes about what they want to discuss helps them feel more comfortable.

A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, and help you achieve problem-solving skills and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image 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
  • 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 communications 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
  • Achieve and sustain a more balanced life

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 courage and self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be highly 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 overcome whatever challenges you face. 
Sometimes a few sessions can help you tap into your own resources; you may be surprised by an increased efficienty and ease in daily life.

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 (empty nest, 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 support and 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. So ask yourself:

Do I want to change? Do I want support? Am I willing to try? Am I ready to commit to get better?

What is therapy like?

Often times people don't know what to expect or they expect therapy to be pain and hard work, tears and life put on hold. Some are even concerned that they will break down if they start touching on difficult issues.While it is true that psychotherapy is not always pleasurable or comfortable people forget that they are not in it alone anymore. You will gain tremendous support from a person well trained to help you cope with your current challenges, and to learn how to deal with them, and hopefully to prevent future issues.
What people don't expect is that there are also good times in therapy, humor, laughter and the joy of accomplishment. Such times are important periods of growth and consolidation of achievements, times in which the brain gets rewired into new neuro-pathways leading to new insights and new behaviors.

In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history related to that events, your past and current challenges, associations you make between events, dreams and new developments or any new insight gained from one therapy session to the next- this is the processing done in psychodynamic psychotherapy ( talk therapy) that addresses primarily the mental realm, going from the mind to the body, looking at ways in which childhood events shaped the person you are today. Somatic therapy addresses primarily the body, going from the body to the mind; in the beginning you can expect to learn and use grounding, tracking and breathing techniques. You will be invited and supported to use these techniques between sessions as coping tools- the breath is the most effective  "mind altering" natural physiological process. Then you will learn how thoughts and feelings relate to the nervous system, hormonal system (esp. the stress hormones ) and to different parts of the body and sensations related to them. You will also learn to  access, anchor and amplify resources (feeling-good-places in your body) related to specific current issues.
If you suffer from insomnia you will learn to fall and stay asleep by lowering the brain's arousal through guided natural breathing techniques and a variety of small movements, some targeted for daytime stress reduction/relaxation and others for nighttime to induce sleep. 
Energy medicine techniques (TAT is my favorite because it's simple, gentle and holistic) and mindful movement are other ways of accessing the unconscious and integrating the mind, the body and the spirit into a whole and healthy person.

HeartMath is a very well scientifically researched method for stress reduction , energy management and nervous system regulation, which benefit many of my clients, as a go to in the moment self soothing technique. It is easy, gentle, and came be done anywhere, in public, walking, exercising.
Play Therapy: Parents, you will expect your children to play with me. Children don't express themselves well in words, but they will show you and me all about their lives when they play. So, please, don't be alarmed and don't think you are wasting your money!  Play is the best modality in which they learn and practice healthy skills and behaviors. Parents are most important in children's lives, therefore we will meet from time to time to discuss your child's or adolescent's progress and to implement changes for the best of the whole family.

What about Passive Therapy methodologies?

I use passive methods of therapy in session , or I guide you to add them in your daily life. These methods target the brain through music, which is specifically modified to address different needs and problems,

The goal of Passive therapy is to accelerate the effectiveness of the other active modalities used in session, by stabilizing the nervous system. They can be used before beginning of therapy or in conjunction with therapy.
  1. The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is intended to prepare the client’s emotional and physiological state.  Dr. Porges discusses two pathways to achieving progress with clients: the passive pathway and the active pathway.  Since a calm autonomic/physiological state is necessary for health, growth and restoration, achieving it becomes the foundation of an effective therapy.  The SSP is a passive pathway of therapy, helping to change the client’s physiologic state through neuroception ( the nervous system’s perception of safe/unsafe cues) and opening the system to further neural changes from other active pathway therapies that follow. 

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a five-day intervention* designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience.  The intervention uses prosodic vocal music that has been filtered to train the middle ear muscles to focus in on the frequency envelope of human speech.  Once human speech is properly perceived, the portal to social engagement has been opened.  You’ll find you are (or your child is) better able to interpret not only the meaning, but also the intent in conversations.  And the sense of safety that is achieved by better understanding the fluctuations in human voice calms your (or your child’s) physiological state.  Once your system has been primed and your state is calm, further therapy is enhanced and behavioral regulation is improved.  

*SSP has been used in a variety of ways; new guidelines show its efficiency in adults who experienced childhood trauma – in such situations it will be applied over a few weeks, depending on individual symptoms and tolerance. Initial assessment is mandatory if you have a high ACE (Adverse Child Experiences) score.

Characteristics of Target Clients

  • Difficulties in regulating behavioral state (hypervigilant, anxious, distractible, impulsive, meltdowns, hyperarousal, difficulties with falling and staying asleep)
  • Poorly functioning vagal system ( chronic digestion problems and other major organ problems, unexplained medical issues)
  • Difficulties listening and  following directions, speech- language delays
  • Sound Sensitivity
  • Lack of prosody (voice tends to not rise or fall)
  • Dull facial expressions
  • Oral motor defensiveness (intolerant of food variety)

    Who Benefits? Because most, if not all problems have a foundation of imbalance in the autonomic (unconscious) nervous system (fright, fight, flight, freeze and faint), I find SSP to be an invaluable additional tool for daily stress, anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and even depression.

Note: Although SSP works on regulating the nervous system towards a felt sense of safety, it cannot be used by itself; additional therapy is needed to develop and consolidate lasting results.

      2. Advanced Brain Technologies: The Listening Program, InTime, Sleep Genius, Sound Health.

Session Scheduling
It is most common to schedule regular sessions, usually weekly. If the reason for starting therapy is severe, such as, but not limited to rape, car accident, intractable pain, severe anxiety or depression, etc, you will benefit for more then one time a week for a period of time that we will determine together.

I also schedule every other week and 'as needed' sessions, especially for coaching.

On-line sessions are very helpful if you are very busy, overwhelmed, or live far away. I am licensed in the state of CA and I only do psychotherapy with CA residents. Coaching does not apply with this law, so if you need just guidance and accountability, you can schedule on-line sessions.

It is important to understand that you will get more results if you actively participate in the process of therapy.  The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Usually 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 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. 
I work within a network of healthcare practitioners and I can assist you in finding the most appropriate practitioner for your needs ( doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, etc).

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

Yes. I currently take MHN, I am out-of-network provider for all PPO insurances. Please don't forget to bring your insurance card at the time of your first appointment.
To determine if you have mental 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 mental 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? 

Does what we talk about in therapy 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, chiropractor, attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission. I will always discuss and inform you before I contact another person on your behalf.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations in which a life is in danger:

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection 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.

You are investing in the most important support system you will ever have, which is YOU.

I wish you well. 




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