** COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Update **
For the health, safety, and well-being of my clients, I am only offering video and phone sessions at this time. I will offer in-person services again when the mask mandate for healthcare workers is lifted. It is hard to say when that will occur.
I use a secure electronic health record (EHR) system and all of my intake forms and paperwork can be completed online quickly and easily; however, if you prefer, I can instead send the forms by email or mail for you to fill out and return to me by mail.
Frequently Asked Questions About Teletherapy and Therapy
How does teletherapy work? For video sessions, I use a secure platform through my EHR, SimplePractice, that you can access using your phone, tablet, or laptop, as long as it has a camera and microphone. You will receive an email with a link to our session, and you simply click on it and it takes you right to the virtual waiting room. Once I start the virtual session, we'll be able to see and hear each other in real time. You can learn more about how it works in this SimplePractice guide to telehealth. For phone sessions, I will call you directly using my secure phone line.
How secure is teletherapy? The platform that I use is very secure and no one else will be able to access the virtual room unless your or I invite them. However, it's very important that you take an active role in ensuring our sessions remain private and confidential. For example, use a secure wifi network with a password, not a public network. Make sure you have privacy and no one else nearby will be able to hear what you're saying. If you don't feel you have a private space in your home where you feel comfortable being honest, maybe sit in your car for our session. If we're having a phone session, use a land line if possible. There will be more information about how to protect your privacy in my intake documents and I'm glad to answer any questions you might have.
Is teletherapy right for me? Teletherapy is not a good fit for every client. If you often feel like you are in crisis or are engaging in self-harming behaviors, it may be better for you to meet with me in person, so that I can better assess your well-being and intervene if I am concerned about your safety.
What can I expect at my first session? The first session will last about 50 minutes, and will focus on gathering information about why you're seeking services and your goals for either the therapy or assessment process, and I will explain more about my approach to assessment and/or treatment. You may be asked questions about your symptoms, relationships, past experiences, and family history, among other subjects. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you might have. Part of the purpose of the first session is to determine if I am a good fit for you and your needs. Every therapist has their own personality style, treatment approach, and theoretical orientation, and not every therapist is a good match for every client. If I am not a good fit for a particular client or if a client's treatment needs fall outside of my areas of expertise, I will work to help identify other therapists who might be a better choice.
What is therapy like? I typically start with weekly sessions. As treatment progresses, I will work with you to decide when to decrease the frequency of our sessions to every 2-4 weeks. Most people find that in order for therapy to feel useful, attending for at least 8-10 sessions is necessary. Some people are in therapy for a year or longer, while others attend for a few months and return as needed for follow-up visits.
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, my approach will vary. In general you can expect to discuss current issues happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue(s), and to report on progress, new insights, or homework since our previous therapy session. It is important to understand that you will get better results from therapy if you actively participate in the process.
What is an assessment like? The assessment or evaluation process typically takes place in four stages:
1. Informational interview to obtain a history, review your concerns, discuss the reason for the evaluation, determine what testing needs to be done, and review informed consent and evaluation procedures. This usually takes 1-2 hours.
2. Testing may take place immediately following the interview or we may schedule it for a later time. The amount of time required will depend on the purpose of the assessment, and typically ranges from 1 to 4 hours in total.
3. I will then score and interpret the tests, and write a report that integrates the information from the tests, interview, and other relevant sources of information.
4. Once the report is completed, I will schedule a feedback session with you to provide you with a copy of the report, explain my findings and answer any questions you might have.
Some of the tests you will take are designed to determine at what point specific tasks become more difficult for you, to determine your relative strengths and weaknesses. As a result, some of the takss will seem very challenging, while others may seem easy. In order for me to give the most helpful feedback, it is important to put forth your best effort on all of them.
What about medication? It is well established that the long-term solutions to mental and emotional problems, and the pain they cause, cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that prevent progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness, which may or may not include medication. I do not prescribe medication, but I can try to help you find a provider you does and, with your consent, coordinate your care with that provider.
Will you keep my information private? Confidentiality is one of the most important components of the relationship between a health care provider and their clients or patients. Successful therapy and assessment require a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not disclosed with anyone but a psychologist or therapist. I will provide you with a written copy of my Notification of Privacy Practices disclosure agreement and my Informed Consent for Psychological Services, which explains how your personal health information is stored and protected. There may be instances where you want me to share information or give an update to someone else, like another member of your healthcare team or a family members. By law, I cannot release any information about you without obtaining your written permission. I have an Authorization to Share Personal Health Information form that you can complete, which will allow me to do this.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
1. Suspected abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders, based on information provided by you or someone else
2. If I have reason to suspect that you are seriously in danger of harming yourself or someone else.
These exemptions are rare but they do happen. In the event that I am mandated to break confidentiality for one of these reasons, I will make every effort to inform you of this in advance and explain what will happen, if it is safe to do so. If you have any questions about this at any point, please let me know.