If you have any additional questions, including questions about my services, my schedule, or my fees, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to call me.
When do you schedule clients and how long is a session?
I schedule clients Mondays through Thursdays beginning 10 AM with the latest session held from 7-8 PM: I am not in the office on Fridays and weekends. A session is typically 50 minutes long, but an initial comprehensive session can be scheduled for 90 minutes. At the time of the first session clients are typically asked to come 15 to 20 minutes early to fill out forms that allow them to have services and to understand appropriate office policies.
What qualifies you to work with grief, loss, trauma, illness, victimization, panic and/or depression?
At the age of twelve, my only sibling died from brain cancer. He was fifteen years old. Living with his illness and eventual death and with the pain and trauma that it caused my family gave me a deep appreciation of how short and precious life is, how valuable our relationships are and how we need to make the most of each moment. Both of my parents also died from catastrophic illnesses before reaching their senior years. I became determined to do whatever I could to add to the adaptability, quality of life, peace of mind and level of joy of my fellow human beings during whatever time we all have on this planet. In the process I have pursued advanced studies in the areas of trauma and grief recovery and joy enhancement and I continue to update my knowledge as the field expands. I also have conducted research, taught professional and community training courses, and presented Psychology Conference Workshops and keynote presentations on the immune system enhancing and stress reducing benefits of reestablishing humorous play and joy in the face of trauma.
How long will I/we have to be in therapy?
That question is difficult to answer. Some clients have multiple issues and chronic problems to deal with and appreciate long term care, others desire brief therapy. The length of therapy sometimes depends on a client's degree of trauma, type of upbringing and family history, level of motivation, learning style, or defense system. Each individual, couple, or family has a different need for help and a different rate at which they may change, learn, or increase in their comfort level. I ask that my clients communicate with me continually about their level of improvement and about their desire to continue, or to limit the amount of services that they receive.
Is therapy confidential?
Yes, licensed therapists are ethically and legally bound to keep both the contents of and the existence of therapy sessions confidential. Exceptions to this take place if a client reveals information that creates a suspicious of child, or elder endangerment, neglect or abuse, or when the client reveals information that suggests a danger to oneself or to others. Exceptions also take place when a client is court ordered or under the supervision of the Department of Social Services, or when the client requests that information be sent to, or discussed with insurance companies, doctors, employers, attornies, or other agencies, or individual's of their own choice. If a client requests any information to be released they must sign a written consent form. There are also complicated legal situations in which a client gives up their right to confidentiality by filing, or participating in some form of litigation, that may involve the subpoenaing of records, or that may require that testimony is given by their therapist.
Can I reach you through e-mail?
It is impossible to guarantee the confidentiality of any communication that goes through an email server. It is also helpful for me to hear the actual voice of my client, or potential client in order to assess the urgency and impact of the subject matter being discussed. For those reasons I will personally return your phone call instead of communicating with you through e-mails.
Since you provide relationship therapy, have you personally been able to maintain a long term romantic relationship? And do you have experience raising children?
My husband, Michael, and I consider ourselves very fortunate to be beginning our twentieth year of being exclusively committed to, and in love with, one another. Both of us were divorced single parents when we met. This gave me the extraordinary opportunity to have raised one biological daughter and to understand the complexities of single parenting but then later to have contributed to raising three step-children. All of our children are now adults in college or with homes, or partners of their own. Without small ones in our home we continue to enjoy sharing our lives with our adult children. We also enjoy traveling, gardening, cycling and exploring Southern California life with our chocolate colored miniature poodle, Truffle, who adds a wonderful air of playful affection to each day.
Do you accept Medi-Cal or Medi-Care?
No, I am not currently taking MediCal or MediCare clients.
Do you evaluate or diagnose Developmental Challenges such as Autism?
Although I work with individual's and families to help them cope with such challenges, It is best to seek an initial evaluation for possible developmental challenges through your local "Regional Center". They are the experts and can also provide you with appropriate referrals for ongoing healthcare, benefits, placements and/or specialists. (See my "links and resources" page for local Regional Center phone numbers).
Do you work with Children and Teens?
Yes. I work with both children and teens as well as adults, couples, families and seniors. I only work with minor children, however, when both parents, or all legal caretakers, mutually agree to obtain my services for the child and only when the parents agree to participate and to allow any other parent, who has the legal right to do so, to participate in the therapeutic process. Children and teens often benefit from individual and/or from play therapy sessions and enjoy getting the special attention that they get from having time alone with a therapist. They also have the ethical right to confidentiality. Parents, however, need to give the therapist feedback as to how the child is progressing, or having difficulties. The therapist, likewise, needs to be able to develop common goals with parents about how to help the young person face discomforts, be positively motivated and encouraged, live with appropriate and consistent structure, develop and maintain empathy with others, handle their impulses, overcome their challenges and insecurities, or fears and how to help the young person balance responsibility and fun.
Is your office accessible to those with physical challenges?
My office building does not have an elevator and entering my office requires that my clients are physically fit enough to climb two sets of stairs. I apologize if this causes any inconvenience to those interested in obtaining my services! "Working (seeing eye) dogs" are very welcomed!
Do you have a theoretical orientation or description of how you work?
In my office I do my best to allow my clients to have the opportunity to explore their feelings, needs, fears, frustrations, pains, behaviors, aspirations and interactions with others in a safe and accepting environment. I encourage my client's to both nurture and appropriately challenge their bodies, minds and spirits. I have training in traditional psychodynamic theory as well as in more modern Family Systems and Eastern Philosophically based Existential theory. I, therefore, attempt to blend Adlerian, Ericksonian, Social Learning Theory, Family Systems Theory and Cognitive-Behavioral therapy together. Therapy typically involves the expression of feelings, the assessment of personal needs and the development of tools that may help clients to meet their needs. At times, however, therapy may also involve role-playing, journaling, homework tasks, Psychological Testing, guided imagery, dream work, or relaxation training. For others it may involve treatment that focuses on helping to improve the process and effectiveness of the interactions between partners, particular family members, or an entire family. Therapy, however, is "client-centered" and the techniques that are used depend on what methods are most comfortable and helpful to each unique client.
The therapeutic process also depends on the client's history, severity of symptoms, or the type of problems, or traumas that the client is facing. Sometimes clients seek out help to manage chronic, long term, or what appear to be biologically based problems. At other times they focus on finding ways to change personality tendencies, expectations, attitudes, inhibitions, or behaviors that appear to have stifled their growth, impeded their work performance, or effected their relationships with others.
Some clients simply need to focus on healing and on replenishing their lives after experiencing great pain, or when they are facing life crises, difficult transitions, or future challenges. In therapy, clients may also learn to develop self-soothing techniques in order to allow themselves to reduce, or to manage anxiety, panic, depression, stress, anger, physical difficulties, mood swings, delusions, or painful memories.
Therapy may also help to resolve conflicts with others, or conflicts with society, by enhancing the client's ability to communicate more clearly and more sensitively, to set appropriate boundaries and expectations with oneself and with others, or by learning to negotiate with either peers, fellow workers, or loved ones. Through treatment some people learn to organize their lives more efficiently, or to more effectively and sensitively communicate with and understand their children, family, spouse, coworkers, or "significant others".
In some cases therapy may focus on helping a client to better understand inner conflicts and to make more informed decisions about how to live by recognizing behaviors, or lifestyle choices that have become dysfunctional. In the process, clients may then become more able to make satisfying and productive lifestyle and relationship choices. Others may learn to reduce levels of grief, rage, distrust, guilt, or self-anger that might be the residual effects of mal treatment, victimization, or unfortunate traumatizing experiences. In general clients are encouraged to take better care of themselves, to understand how their behaviors and choices might effect both themselves and others and to explore what helps them to met their needs and what adds a greater sense of joy, balance, fulfillment and peace of mind to their lives.
Can my Insurance be used for therapy. If so how does that process work?
The modern world of insurance is a bit complicated but I hope this helps: Each insurance group plan is different. Some cover outpatient mental health services while others do not. Some cover Marriage and Family sessions while others do not. Some allow you to see any professional provider of your choice. Others only allow you to choose someone on their list of "Preferred Providers". If your plan covers "out of network providers" (therapists who are not on their list) it may reimburse at a different rate per session than it does for a "Preferred Provider". This means that under some circumstances you may have a larger session co-payment and/or you may have a higher yearly deductible if you choose an "Out of Network Provider" who does not have a contract with your insurance company. Please do all that you can to have a clear understanding of how your coverage works before obtaining services so that later you will not have any unpleasant surprises.
It is essential that you contact your insurance company and ask: If they cover "Outpatient Mental Health Services" and If so, ask what types of services they cover and if those services need to be "preauthorized" by them: Preauthorization usually involves them interviewing you and finding out what "symptoms" you have been experiencing. Then they typically fax or mail a form with an authorization number and initial amount of sessions to your therapist. Without preauthorization and the form that verifies it, some insurance companies will not cover your sessions and will not pay your therapist. Therefore, obtaining preauthorization, if it is required, is extremely important! If it is required and you have not obtained it you may have to pay for all services rendered in full. I can not emphasize enough that Knowing how your insurance works ahead of time might spare you this or other unfortunate problems.
It is important to know what your yearly deductible is and what your co-payment will be for each session for either an "in network" or for an "out of network" provider. In addition, it is also important to ask how many yearly visits your plan allows. Finally, you need to know your insurance company's billing address. Some companies have multiple billing addresses and the correct address depends on your particular policy, group plan, managed care company and/or employer.
If, you have verified that my services are covered and that they have been approved by your insurance company, after you give me a billing address and you fill out and sign your portion of an insurance claim form, I will be glad to bill your insurance company for the services that I provide to you. Your co-payment is due at the time services are rendered.
If you call to inquire about my services, or if your call is an emergency, my system will instruct you to press 4 after you record your message to activate my beeper.