General Questions about Therapy
“I need help right away. How likely is it to get an appointment this week?”
It is very unlikely. If you are experiencing any kind of mental health emergency, then outpatient psychotherapy services from someone in private practice is probably not the best place for you to start. I suggest that you contact your Primary Care Physician, family doctor, or your child’s pediatrician to have the needs assessed. Then, you can get suggestions about resources (and perhaps referrals) from someone who has some familiarity with you.
If your need is more urgent, check my site under EMERGENCY MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES.
Questions about Therapy for Children and Adolescents
“How old should a child be to benefit from therapy?”
I work with infants, toddlers, school-age children and adolescents all the way through early adult development.
The youngest child I’ve worked with in play therapy without a parent present was 2 years old. Typically, individual therapy with a child has benefits beginning around age 3. However, I meet with pregnant couples to address pre-birth concerns, and with new parents with their infants as well. When parents face difficult stages in early childhood development, it might be beneficial for a parent to be seen with an infant or toddler to assess concerns.
“I’m concerned that my child will act inappropriately when we come in.”
Parents often express concerns about the possibility that the child will throw a tantrum, shut down (freeze), or be whiny or clingy on the first visit. These things can happen, but they occur less often than most parents predict. I always meet with parents for an intake session before you bring your child in. At that time, I will explore your specific concerns and we will formulate a plan of action together.
“What should I tell my child about coming in for therapy?”
First and foremost, do not tell your child that you are planning to take him/her to someone that she/he has to TALK to. Play therapy is a specialized intervention that meets the child at his/her level. This rarely involves interest on the part of a child to talk out problems, even if the child is highly verbal. Some children do like to talk and generally will do so in the context of individual play therapy, but this is not a requirement.
It’s ideal to wait until we have met to bring this subject up with your child. We will discuss this in-depth prior to scheduling your child’s first session.
If the subject has already been broached, you may explain to your child that you as a parent have something that YOU need help with, so you want to hire me to help. You may wish to educate your child that you would seek out medical help if your child’s physical health was at risk (and you could not resolve the issue on your own), and you are seeking help from an expert to assist in resolving something that neither you nor the child can seem to deal with without some help. Remember that your child (typically) has NO idea what therapy will be like; even if you’ve worked with someone else before, my approach is likely to be different and my personality definitely is.
“My adolescent flat-out refuses to come in for therapy.”
My experience is that adolescents often fall into the category of either being interested in coming in (sometimes requesting the service themselves) or they strongly resist the idea. You may have faced strong opposition from your adolescent on other matters. It’s important to think about what you have done or would do if there was a significant need for any service that the adolescent was refusing; would you give any credence to this opposition? I realize that you have to determine HOW you resolve this impasse on a practical level. This is a good reason for scheduling the initial intake session with the parents only so that I can better assess your situation, and we can explore options to enlist cooperation from the adolescent. Often we can get past the power struggle between you and your adolescent so she/he agrees to an initial visit. Then it’s in my hands to see if I can find some common ground for your adolescent and I to meet again.
Questions about Therapy for Relationships
“What if I am experiencing problems in my relationship, but my significant other isn’t interested in coming in for therapy?”
I receive many requests from individuals who want services related to relationship problems, but who will be coming in on their own. We discuss potential benefits and risks of doing so given your therapy goals. Sometimes doing some individual work first can assist you in determining some options for your significant other’s involvement in the therapy process.
“I’m coming in with my significant other but I have things that I want to keep private from him/her. If we meet alone, are you obligated to share anything with my partner?”
Clients have a right to privacy. When you become my client, I attempt to explain the scope and limit of this right. Whenever I am providing services to multiple family members, there is a human risk that privacy may be violated in some way, even when my best intentions are in place and I am utilizing strong ethical boundaries. If you want to address something and not have your partner know, this agreement needs to be made with the three of us, and the risk and benefits of separate sessions need to be discussed and agreed upon. Then, if we meet alone, it is my professional responsibility to make you aware of ways that secret keeping may be detrimental to attaining your therapy goals. We often need to work first to create an atmosphere of safety for both partners so that difficult subjects may be addressed.
Questions about Payment
“I am concerned about being able to afford therapy.”
This is an important factor to think through thoroughly before coming in. How financial resources are used is a highly personal matter. My experience has been that, when someone needs help, it’s likely that you will want to get in as soon as you can. If this is done without thinking about resources and making decisions mindfully for the long run, it can interfere with you getting the services that you need down the road.
“Do you have a sliding fee or utilize payment plans?”
No, it’s actually an ethical violation to do this with an individual unless this is offered to all of my clients, including those who have insurance coverage. Additionally, I do not carry balances for clients. This interferes with my role as your therapist by also making me a debt collector. You can check out further information on this site under the section referring to my fees.