Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to my mostly serious Frequently Asked Questions page.
I do hope you will forgive some of my meagre attempts at humor. I take very seriously what I do as a therapist. But in writing the various articles for this website, I needed a little comic relief from the seriousness of the various issues. And since the FAQ page of any website risks causing severe boredom, I thought it best to take a few liberties here.
Where is your office located?
Near the intersection of Interstate 5 and Magic Mountain Parkway, one-tenth of a mile from the nearest Starbucks. It’s also across the street from nearly everyone’s dentist. If you have fears about going to the dentist, this can be quite convenient
What are your hours?
My appointment schedule is 9 am to 5 pm week days, but I also have evening appointments two days per week (currently Tuesday and Thursday).
How long are therapy sessions?
Sessions are 50 minutes each, but I extend that to 60 minutes whenever I can. Please note that Friday afternoon sessions may feel longer to you.
How much do you charge?
My fee is $225 per session. I receive payment at the beginning of each session (check, cash, or credit card).
Do you take insurance? Why or why not?
I do not take insurance, nor do I bill insurance. Rather, I collect my fee upfront and send a monthly invoice to my clients that is marked PAID. If you have a PPO plan, you may be able to obtain reimbursement from your insurance company. My invoice functions as a receipt and contains all the necessary insurance codes so that you can submit my invoice to your insurance company for reimbursement.
In such cases, I am considered an Out-of-Network provider. Practically, this means that your net costs will be higher than if you were to see a psychologist (provider) who is inside the network of your insurance plan.
HMO insurance plans generally do not give any reimbursement for out-of-network visits to a psychologist.
How do I set up an initial appointment?
The best way is to call me or send me an email to schedule a call. I like to talk with potential clients for 15 to 20 minutes on the phone before scheduling an appointment for a first session.
What is your cancellation policy?
I require 24-hour notice of cancellation to avoid being billed for a scheduled appointment.
What age ranges do you work with?
I work with ages 11 through 111. Typically, my youngest clients are 12 to 15 and my oldest clients are in their 60s or 70s. I do not see children whose parents are in the process of divorcing.
Do you take Medicare?
I do not bill Medicare.
Do you work mainly with women or men?
Over the years I have worked with both women and men in roughly equal numbers. I have no preference. I enjoy working with women. I enjoy working with men.
The feedback that I often receive from both men and women is that I understand the unique concerns of each gender. This is part of the reason that I am able to be even-handed when I do couples therapy.
Do you offer marriage counseling?
Marriage counseling and couples therapy is one of my favorite specialties. I have been working with couples for decades with good results. I enjoy the process of helping couples discover how to love each other better while feeling like their own individual lives are thriving.
I have obtained extensive advanced training in marriage counseling and couples therapy, including the Gottman method (John Gottman) and Emotion-Focused Therapy (Susan Johnson).
Do your clients receive assignments to work on between sessions?
It depends on the type of therapy that the client needs. Some types of therapy do not lend themselves to working on things between the sessions. However, whenever I see value in it—which is most often—I recommend reading or simple experiments that will move a client’s growth process forward. I am also sensitive to how much discretionary time a client has for other growth-oriented activities.
What modalities (therapy approaches) do you use in your work with clients?
While working toward my Ph.D., I made a point to learn several different approaches to therapy: interpersonal, cognitive behavioral, family systems, emotion-focused, developmental, and the list goes on. As a result, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. I know how to switch gears to give you what you need for your unique situation.
Good therapy is interactive. It is a conversation. It is a profound connection that can change your life. It is a real relationship with a therapist even though it has professional boundaries. I have sifted through a lot of things so that you can experience a rare blend of effective approaches when you start therapy with me.
What is your professional training and experience?
My psychology training includes a M.A. degree in psychology and a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology. Both of these degrees are from the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant University (Los Angeles Campus). Can you believe there were no cell phones back then?
Just out of high school, I earned a B.A. from Westmont College, completing two majors: Philosophy and also Religious Studies. After college, I studied at Westminster Theological Seminary and obtained a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree.
By the way, I grew up in Ventura and then went to college up the coast in Santa Barbara. But I never learned to ride a surfboard. This is very embarrassing to me, so please don’t mention it when you meet me for the first appointment.
I notice you have theology training. Are you one of those counselors who uses the Bible to beat people over the head?
Most of my clients don’t have any real interest in religion. I’m very comfortable with all types of people, and I am respectful of all religions and philosophies, including non-religion. Many of my most satisfying therapy experiences with clients have been with people with whom I have very little in common (except perhaps a sense of humor and a desire for life to be as good as it can be).
At the same time, I also work with clients who have a Christian background because I have given a lot of thought to how Christian faith intersects and integrates with psychology. I’m very opposed to shame-based counseling or any approach that doesn’t free-up people to be their best selves.
What else does a client need to know to make the most out of working with you?
Prospective clients need to know that I have given much of my life to cultivating a high degree of expertise in guiding clients to their goals in the best way possible. My best work is with clients who are motivated to find change: they really want a quality of life that is better than what they are currently experiencing.
I generally avoid keeping a client who is very ambivalent and torn about whether they wish to change. Of course, we all have some doubts and mixed feelings about things. But, generally, I try to work with individuals and couples who are desperate enough to say, “Whatever it takes…”
Prospective clients also need to know that I care about people. I find people fascinating. I am genuinely curious about the lives of men and women I encounter, whether they are clients or not. Clients pay for my time, but they cannot pay for my interest and attention. That I give willingly.
From my perspective, one of my main gifts in this work is to truly see people as infinitely valuable human beings who have a life story that matters. Their problems matter. Their happiness matters. Their relationships matter. Their well-being matters. My clients seem to find deep satisfaction in being truly SEEN in this way.
Do you write prescriptions?
All the time! The most common ones are
- “Don’t use sarcasm with your partner.”
- “When your partner complains about his/her boss, don’t take the boss’s side.”
- “Stop looking at your phone when stepping into a busy street.”
- During the first session, don’t say to me, “I want you to fix everyone else, but me!”
- “Don’t compose text messages to me while creeping forward at an intersection”
However, because I’m not a physician, I don’t prescribe medications.
Do you have plenty of tissue in your office?
Yes. However, clients are not required to cry in the first session. Tissue may be used also for blowing your nose or disposing of chewing gum. It can also be used to clean the screen of your phone AFTER you have turned it off. I prefer that you don’t dip tobacco during sessions.
Do you make jokes during serious therapy sessions?
I never make light of anyone’s pain. However, I did have a client tell me once that I helped her laugh her way out of a deep depression. Therapy is a conversation among other things. I have found that my clients appreciate the use of humor at key moments. In fact, when clients find their own sense of humor in the middle of everything, they feel empowered to face difficult things.
It’s not about dodging serious emotions or topics. Rather, it’s about getting occasional relief from intensity so that serious work can be completed.
Do I have to sit on the same side of the couch for each session?
It is not required. However, I have been known to become disoriented and dizzy when clients deviate from the place where they normally sit.
Do you have tea and coffee in your waiting room?
I have tea and lots of cold water, but no coffee. There is, however, a Starbucks (with Drive-Thru) just across the street. The waiting room also has a nice water feature that will make you consider using the restroom before the session begins. I recommend staring at the water feature for 60 seconds in the waiting room, and then finding the restroom across the hall.
Will it be awkward meeting you?
Only if you show up wearing a Halloween costume or a rooster outfit.