What can therapy do and what therapy can Marriage and Family Therapists offer?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of a counselor as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are licensed mental health professionals who work with individuals, couples (whether or not married); families of all defiinitions; and groups to help the client address or relieve mental, emotional, and relational concerns of all kinds. MFTs work in private practive and a vriety of other settings throughout California and the rest of the nation providing mental health services. MFTs have minimally acquired two-year masters degrees, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and have passed two rigorous exams.
What can I expect from therapy and what will therapy require of me?
Therapy is about how life’s ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) issues affect you and your relationships to people and the world around you, but you are not the problem.
Therapy is work --- your work. The therapist’s role is to facilitate, ask, wonder out loud, suggest possible alternatives, encourage (instill courage), and assist.
My therapeutic approach grows out of Adlerian individual psychology. Everyone’s life tasks include cultivating positive experiences about work, love, the community around you. Everyone is “becoming.” “Everything can also be different,” and it can be different most likely, most directly, and most dramatically by thinking about it differently; soon we will react and behave differently and discover that it IS different. The therapist’s (my) job is to en-courage you, to instill courage to make the decisions and take the steps you want in order to improve the relationships you have with the world around you.
“Homework" is sometimes a vital part of the therapeutic process. The completion of agreed-upon homework is necessary if the client is to get the most from the therapeutic experience.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
And remember, you are not the problem. You are an individual (or couple or family) who is experiencing a problem, and in therapy, you are seeking tools to deal with that problem.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you. Therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness, that is, including anything and everything that is helpful.
What is video-conferencing therapy like?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
I make every effort to make online video-conferencing therapy as comfortable and as much like meeting a therapist in an office as possible; and I hope you will be able to do so, as well. We will see each other face-to-face, but rather than eye-to-eye, we will “see” each other eye-camera-internet-camera-eye. We’ll still see each other’s comfort levels, physical movements, facial expressions, etc. So, the personal contact is maintained as much as possible.
The medium of communication will still be primarily the spoken word, augmented by the written word through text messages we may send each other on the screen during sessions to clarify something we might say, or via email between sessions to follow-up on something from a session.
Just as when therapy sessions are conducted in an office, I will retain the visual aspect only in my memory. I will not maintain video files of sessions, but will destroy them in a confidential and secure way immediately after each session, and in order to protect your confidentialty, I would ask you to do the same.
I will maintain electronic files of any texting we do during sessions only for seven (7) days and will then purge those files in a confidential and secure way, as well. I will, however, keep email messages and will make them a part of the client chart I maintain, just as I would do US Postal Service mail or telephone messages in an office setting.
In video-conferencing therapy, does the therapist or counselor keep a client chart or medical record?
Yes, I will maintain a record of our sessions; it makes for good clinical practice, and helps to assure you that your time is organized, planned, and consistent with your goals for therapy. I will keep both a hard-copy record, that is, paper in a folder identified as yours, and I will also maintain an electronic record. The contents will be identical and the documents included will be the same; one will simply be a paper copy and one will be an electronic or digital copy maintained on my computer.
If both a hard copy and an electronic copy of the client chart or medical record are maintained, will they both be secure and confidential?
Yes, Federal regulations embodied in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act (HIPAA) of 1986 sets standards for the security of protected health information and strict rules for privavcy and confidentiality of such personal health information. My practice policies and procedures utilize all reasonable methods and technologies to protect your information --- both in written and electronic form. Secure servers, encryption, and appropriate back-up and storage of data are techniques I utilize in my practice to protect the security and confidentiality of data, which in turn protects you and me.
What technology will I need for video-conferencing therapy?
In general, to take advantage of two-way video conferencing, you will need:
- a web camera
- microphone and speakers, or headset
- a fast internet connection -- DSL, cable or higher (56K dialup won't do.)
- a processor speed of greater than about 800MHz, either PC or Mac
Most computers that are under five years of age should be sufficient. See the System Requirements in more detail.
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
Currently, I am not on provider panels of any public or private insurance programs. Nevertheless, services may sometimes be covered in full or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. Please check your coverage carefully by asking the following questions:
- Do I have mental health insurance benefits?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per year does my health insurance cover?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule as required by law. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.