Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a client?
If you would like to become a client, please call our office phone at 510-748-0637.
If we do not answer, feel free to leave a message. We will return your call within 1-2 business days.
Additional contact information can be found on the Contact page.
Before meeting in person, we recommend having a brief phone conversation so that we know what kind of problem you want help with, and what your expectations are. If we am not familiar with the problem you are experiencing, or if we don't think we can meet your expectations, we will do my best to refer you to someone who can help.
You may want to review my administrative policies before you contact me. You'll find answers to many frequently asked questions, including concerns about fees and payment, insurance, confidentiality, etc., on the Downloads page.
One of the first steps to getting well and being more effective in your life is to understand the type of problem you want to work on, and to clearly define your goals. In order to help this process we may ask you to fill out a diagnostic survey prior to our first visit. We also have information that we can send you that will explain the process of therapy, and help you determine whether the type of therapy that we do is right for you. You may request a copy of these surveys at any time.
What will my first appointment be like?
In the first session, you can tell me why you decided to get help now, how we can be of help, and what you think is important for me to know about you and your situation. We may ask you questions about your symptoms, previous treatment, medical problems, your social life, family members, major life events, etc. We are interested more in the how and what of things then the why did it happen. Usually, we will have a good idea of what is needed in the first session. Sometimes, though, it takes more than one session for us to figure this out.
If what you want help with is something we think we can work with effectively – we will create an individualized treatment plan for you. We will explain to you how I work and the psychotherapeutic tools we use. We will review goals for treatment in order to help us work together. You will be given a recording of the session and asked to listen to it before our next appointment. Most clients find this homework helpful. Listening to a recording of the session often enhances the benefits of the therapy and helps keep us focused on the solutions.
If you are not interested, or we determine that we are unable to help you, we will refer you to other professionals who can.
How much are your fees?
Our usual and customary fee is $150 hourly. However, what you actually pay per session depends on several factors, including whether your insurance pays a portion of the bill.
Currently we do not contract with insurance companies other than Claremont Behavioral Health. That may change in the future.
If you have an insurance carrier, you may still be able to obtain reimbursement for part of the per-session fee. To find out how much of the fee would be covered, we recommend calling your insurance company in advance.
Ideally, paying for therapy will motivate both you and us to work hard so you can accomplish your goals in a timely fashion. Payment helps to create a sense of equality, partnership and reciprocity between us. Furthermore, payment for services helps to distinguish between therapy and a casual conversation. You might not want or expect drastic life changes to occur after a casual conversation with someone you've just met. However, if you're paying for that conversation, you are more likely to consider some of the important questions in our work together with greater motivation and focus.
Specialized payment structures can also help with motivation. You may find it beneficial, for example, to pay ahead of time for my services or even to pay an additional amount, for future sessions.
Finally, although therapy is one of the wisest investments a person can make, you may have enough stress without adding the financial burden of an expensive therapy. Perhaps you cannot afford my fee or the wait time for a sliding scale arrangement is too long. If this is the case, we invite you to explore other options for treatment.
How long before I start to feel better or more effective?
This is a reasonable and practical question, and there is not a simple answer. Change – no matter how little or significant – is a process, not an event. When you begin to feel better or handle a situation more effectively is an individual process. There are many factors that can influence the rate and degree of recovery or change.
Initially, there is often a tremendous relief, especially if you were feeling hopeless and thought change or recovery was impossible! Feeling better is good, but it's not the same as getting better. Maintaining good feelings means you have healthy ways of maintaining a good mood and putting problems that might arise more effectively into solutions. It means that even when you "slip" into depression, you can lift yourself out, on your own. Or when you and your partner begin to argue you can manage the conflict and repair more quickly.
Here are some factors that can influence your recovery and/or achieving your therapy goals:
- How many different problems or difficult situations do you have?
You may have a mood problem, a relationship problem, and a habit or addiction, and want help with all of them. This will obviously take longer than working on a single problem.
- How motivated you are to work on those problems?
Motivation is one of the most important factors in predicting outcome. It will be important to assess your motivation regularly during our work. I often find it helpful to teach you ways of identifying thoughts and beliefs that influence your level your motivation.
- How frequently can you meet with me?
More frequent meetings may result in faster recovery or change.
- How long will our sessions last?
Depending on your needs and preferences, you may prefer sessions that are longer than the usual 50-60 minute appointment, especially at the beginning of treatment. For couples, families and clients dealing with pain management I recommend 90-minute sessions or a 75-90 minute session. A few longer sessions spaced closely together are often more effective than many briefer sessions spread out over time. Please note that most EAPS and insurance companies will not reimburse as well for visits longer than one hour.
- How much time are you willing to invest in therapy "homework" outside of sessions?
Significant research confirms that individuals who do daily psychotherapy "homework" recover faster than individuals who don't do homework between sessions. Practice is an important element in developing a habit or skill. Recovery from depression, anxiet,y and bad habits/addictions requires the same kind of dedication and practice as learning a new skill such as ice skating, a martial art, or a new language.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require a 48-hour notification to cancel a session for any reason. If you provide this advance notification, we will not charge you for the session. If you do not provide us with a 48-hour notification, you will be charged for the missed session.
If we can fill your slot at the last minute, we will not charge you for the canceled session, even if you give me less than 48 hours notice. If we miss or have to cancel an appointment, you will not be charged.
Can I call you between sessions?
In certain cases, you may need to call us if a problem develops between sessions. For example, if you suddenly feel suicidal, we want you to call us right away.
If a phone consultation is needed, we will charge for the time we spend together at our usual rate, based on the length of the call. Often, we can schedule additional sessions with you at the office within a day or two of your call if you need extra help.
My friend or family member needs help. Can you see them?
If your friend or family member needs help, it can be a very stressful situation for you. For example, your loved one may be suffering tremendously from depression and not have enough motivation to call for help. They might be using substances and not interested in help, even though you think that their life is falling apart. They may even resist your efforts to find help for them.
In the case of an emergency, you must act swiftly and decisively. If you suspect that they are a danger to themselves or others, for example, you should call 911 or go with them to the Emergency Department immediately. Remember that it's always better to be safe than sorry! They may thank you, later, for saving their life.
Remember that successful therapy requires active participation. One measure of whether someone is ready for therapy is how willing they are to make that first phone call. I have found (and research confirms) that letting or encouraging them to make the first call often gives them a sense of gaining control back or accomplishment.
We prefer speaking directly with the person who will be our client. This often motivates them towards the goal of feeling good and getting better. However, we recognize there are times when your family member or loved one isn't motivated enough to call. This is a time for you to consider a consultation for yourself – so you may gain some resources and skills in managing a situation that may appear unmanageable.