What happens in the first visit?
The first session will be spent gathering lots of information about you, your child, and/or your family. This will include your history, the concerns that bring you to therapy, and what your goals are. Remember, you are the expert on yourself and your child so I will count on you to teach me all about you. Our first session will be about 60 minutes long.
How do I know you are the “right” therapist for me?
Feel free to ask as many questions as you like about me, my training, and therapy in general as you make a decision. The best predictor for successful therapy is how comfortable YOU feel with the therapist. My style tends to be active, where I ask lots of specific questions to make sure I understand. I am solutions focused and like to give strategies and goals to work on each session. I am committed to offering a safe place to explore feelings and challenges.
How long will therapy take?
That depends a lot on what your goals are and the reasons for seeing me. The average number of therapy sessions is 12, but some people benefit from more or less sessions. Sometimes some good skills can be learned in just a few sessions.
How often do I come?
In the beginning, I recommend coming more frequently; usually weekly. This helps build the relationship and trust faster. Also, skills often build on each other, like math, so consistency keeps the progress moving steadily. We will discuss the best frequency of sessions for you when making a treatment plan.
Do you have afternoon or weekend appointments?
I do offer after school appointments until 5 pm. I occasionally offer Saturday morning appointments. We always provide school excuses if needed.
Will you make me or my child take medication?
No, not at all. I’m a psychologist, so I offer talk and play therapy. I’m not a psychiatrist, who prescribes medication. The majority of the people I work with never take medication. Some people do benefit from a combination of medication and therapy. If I think it might be helpful we can discuss options and I can give you a referral if needed. The final decision is always up to you.
Are you a participating provider with insurance companies?
I maintain a fee-for-service practice. This means that I am considered “out-of-network” for insurance companies. We would be happy to provide a receipt for you to file with your insurance for personal reimbursement. It is important to check with your specific company about your mental health/behavioral health out-of-network benefits and the details of those benefits. Many policies now requires families to meet a separate deductible to access mental health benefits. We can provide you with CPT codes to help you know what to ask when you call your insurance company. Many families are successful with obtaining partial reimbursement for my services. More information about fees and insurance can be found under fees and policies.
Child/Adolescent Specific FAQs
Do I bring my child to the first appointment?
I find that the first session is better to complete without the child present. This allows the parent to focus on discussing information and protects the child from overhearing negative comments. If your child is 12 years or older, you can decide if you prefer to bring them or not. We can spend part of the session talking privately while your child waits in a nearby waiting area. Then, your child could join us or speak to me privately.
Will I be involved in my child’s therapy?
For young children in particular, I feel that parents or caregivers should be actively involved in the therapy process. With children under 6, parents are almost always included in each play session. For school age children, I usually meet privately for at least part of the session. Then, I try to have parents join the session and have the child teach what they learned or meet privately with parents for a brief check-in.
In my work with teenagers, I typically ask that parents allow me leeway to keep specific details private to help the teen feel safe and support progress. If any safety issues come up, or I feel the teen is making dangerous decisions or actions, I will share that with the parent. Or better, I’ll support the teen in sharing the information directly.
Do children really need therapy?
Many children do experience depression, anxiety, anger, or low self-esteem. Therapy can help children learn new skills for dealing with their problems, getting their needs met, and communicating. The earlier your child gets help and learns new skills, the better. Without help, problems may worsen or put kids at risk for making bad choices later on. There is no guarantee that your child will “just grow out of it.”
What do I tell my child about coming to see you?
It usually helps to tell kids that I am a “talking and playing” doctor, not the kind that gives shots. Kids are often excited to know that I have lots of toys they can play with and look forward to seeing the playroom. You will definitely be with them for the whole first session, and until they are comfortable being separated if we agree that is needed. I usually suggest parents be open with their kids about the reason for coming. For example, letting them know that you want to help them with their worries, to be happier, or get some help with school. It can also help to let them know that you want help learning how to help them. That way they know that you don’t have all the answers either.