Frequently Asked Questions
Does Counseling Work?
Yes! Recent research suggests that the average person receiving marital therapy, for example, is significantly better off than 84% of those who don’t seek treatment, and that treatment gains are generally sustained over time. In fact, the “effect size” (a statistic that essentially says how well some method of treatment works) for marital therapy is higher than the effect size for coronary bypass surgery for angina! In other words, if you get quality marriage counseling, your marriage has a better chance of succeeding than your angina has of being treated successfully through coronary bypass surgery! There is similar research about the effectiveness of the individual therapy approaches that I use.
That said, neither we nor any other therapists can guarantee positive results. Much of that depends on how you apply what you learn in counseling, whether the therapist’s techniques, values, etc. are a good fit with you, whether the therapist knows and believes in what he/she is doing, and so forth.
We strive to have therapy feel like a safe place to explore your difficulties. Our clients often mention that they appreciate feeling safe and supported, yet challenged and stretched as well. Even though we have an extensive knowledge of the approaches listed below, you will feel like we are working with you rather than doing things to you.
Reference: Shadish, W. R., & Baldwin, S. A. (2002). Meta-analysis of MFT interventions. In D. H. Sprenkle (Ed.), Effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy (pp. 339-370). Alexandria, VA: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
What should you expect?
After our initial contact via telephone or email, the next step is to go to the “paperwork” page and complete the “informed consent” paperwork online prior to the first session. Once you’ve done that, you don’t need to arrive early to your first session.
When you reach the office, have a seat in the waiting room. We’ll be out to meet you when your session is scheduled to start. The first session typically consists primarily of you telling your (and your partner/family members, if applicable) story of why you’re seeking counseling. Your clinician will ask several questions throughout the first session to help get a picture of your situation, but at first he or she will mostly be listening to you. Think of it like your first visit to a medical doctor or a mechanic – they’re mostly listening to what you’re saying is wrong so they can help.
Many people find a lot of relief even in the first session! From there, we will collaborate together on what changes need to happen to best help you. Therapy may be very active with lots of advice, homework, etc. or fairly passive while you explore various aspects of your situation. It all depends on what you and your clinician think best suits you and your situation.
How much does it cost?
The fee for a 50-minute session ranges from $175 – $200, depending on the clinician.
We provide counseling on a fee-for-service basis. We’re happy to provide a receipt for services to submit to your PPO for possible reimbursement, if applicable.
At first glance, therapy can seem expensive. Do the costs justify the potential benefits? It may help to think of the costs of therapy this way: research suggests that, although there are no guarantees, many people achieve meaningful, lasting results after 10-12 sessions of therapy. The cost for those sessions is about what you’d expect to pay for a low-end sofa/loveseat combo! So, would you rather be rid of whatever ails you, or have a new couch?
How long does it last?
Though length of time in therapy varies from person to person, most of our clients complete treatment in around 8-12 sessions. There are exceptions to that, of course. Many people come in for 2-3 sessions just to get “re-centered,” while others like to come in for much longer. Either way, many people start to feel better in 3-6 sessions, and can maintain positive changes on their own by 10-12 sessions.
One thing we love about practicing in California is that most people have a pretty progressive view of their mental health. They think of their therapist like their dentist or family doctor – sometimes you’re there for longer, sometimes briefly, but it is a good idea to have one!