How can therapy help me?
Numerous benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy, but, in a global sense, the real benefit of therapy is a change in the way your brain processes information. Psychotherapists are in the business of changing the brain, and ultimately the mind, for the better, as well as reducing suffering. We do this by helping you build new neural networks and enhance current positive neural networks. We also diminish or eliminate distressing or negative neural pathways by helping you process traumatic or stressful experiences from your past in a safe and soothing environment. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on your relationship with your therapist, the skills, experience, and approach of your therapist, and most importantly, on the level of motivation, energy, and commitment you bring to therapy. Some of the specific benefits available from therapy include:
- Developing your inner strengths a nd resources
- Improving self awareness: Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your sensations, your behaviors, your beliefs and values
- Reducing anxiety and becoming more neurologically and emotionally regulated
- Improving your relationships and sense of connection with others
- Understanding how the patterns in your family of origin shaped your inner world and your current relationships
- Learning how your unconscious beliefs and motivations influence your current behavior
- Feeling more understood, valued, and cared for
- Reducing or diminishing physical and/or emotional pain
- Learning new ways to cope with stress
- Managing anger,fear, grief, depression, shame, and other disturbing emotional feelings
- Eliminating intrusive thoughts or flashbacks
- Improving communication and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family, partnership , or marriage
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
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 may need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility to change something in your life which is bothering you. You may want to act or feel differently, to understand yourself or others better, or to find a way to accept a difficult situation which will not change. If you have a history of trauma, unprocessed material may block you from feeling, from connecting to others, or achieving what you desire. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to continue on your path of personal growth and evolution.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy, but most people come to a therapist because they want something to change. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people want to feel better about themselves, have more confidence, a sense of success and accomplishment. Some people wish to understand others better or learn how to deal with interpersonal conflict. Others want to diminish feelings of loneliness, inadequacy and physical and emotional pain. Others may have disturbing memories that haunt them or feel disturbed by not being able to remember important events in their lives. Others may feel upset or on edge weeks or months after an accident or medical procedure. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and to make positive changes.
Like most experiences in life, you will only know if therapy is right for you by trying it. I encourage you to trust your intuition and inner voice in deciding whether to enter into psychotherapy and in choosing your therapist.
What is therapy like?
Because each person is unique and has different goals, therapy will be different depending on the individual. My approach is to develop a a process that is tailored to you and your needs, weaving in each of the appropriate therapies I utilize. I will always work on forming and maintaining an emotionally safe, trusting, and non- judgmental relationship with you. In general, you can expect to discuss your thoughts, your emotional feelings, body sensations, current events happening in your life, and to report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. I will listen carefully and deeply to you, asking questions to further our understanding of what you are experiencing, and perhaps offering insight or observations. Depending on your specific needs, we will "process" either your current experiences or events from your past utilizing one of the therapeutic modalities I practice. In our first session, we will discuss your goals, your current situation, your personal and family history, and I will inform you about the different types of therapeutic approaches I use. I will also provide you with some readings to give you additional information.
Success in therapy happens over time, one small step at a time. These slow, incremental steps are the ways a person's brain and mind change for the better. Some of the therapies I practice, particularly EMDR, are faster, more intense processing therapies. Nevertheless, even with these therapies, greater success is achieved over time. Therefore, over time, you may expect to experience the following in our sessions:
- Becoming aware of and talking about your feelings, thoughts, mental images, body sensations and movements
- Alternating moderate levels of emotional arousal with periods of calm and safety
- Integrating conceptual knowledge with emotional and body experience
- Noticing the feelings between us
- Activating neural networks that are inadequately integrated or dissociated
- Leaving the therapy session feeling better than when you first arrived
Your therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions, usually weekly. If you decide to enter into therapy with me, I request you see me once a week for four consecutive weeks, during which time we will get to know each other better and after which we will have a clear picture of your therapy plan.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
I have a holistic approach to healing, meaning healing takes place in body, mind, and spirit. I feel you can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. I believe we heal ourselves, as long as we have proper physical, emotional, mental and spiritual support. Because we are a BodyMind, i.e.our body and mind are deeply interconnected and interdependent, healing of the mind also requires healing of the body. Therefore, I may refer you to a Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor to support the healing of your body, while I support primarily the healing of your mind. Working with your Medical Doctor, you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy, particularly for treating depression, is the right course of action. For people who prefer not to use pharmaceutical products, I will refer you to a Naturopathic Doctor who may prescribe vitamins, herbal remedies, and/or amino acid-based products that support your hormone and neurotransmitter levels to help you feel better.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), all health insurance plans are required to provide both In-Network and Out-of-Network coverage. This means that you may see any provider you choose, but you will pay different amounts for In- Network providers (generally less) than for Out-of-Network providers. Therefore, I accept all health insurance plans, but am not an In-Network provider for all plans (See Rates and Insurance section). As an In-Network provider, I agree to accept the rate the plan pays for your sessions and you pay your co-pay or co-insurance. I will also bill your health insurance plan directly. As an Out-of-Network provider, you pay me my fee directly and your health insurance plan reimburses you according to their reimbursement rate schedule. I will provide you a statement which you submit to your health insurance plan.
Before your first appointment, It is wise to call your health insurance plan to determine your mental health benefits and financial responsibility. Here are some helpful questions you can ask them:
- What are my outpatient mental health benefits?
- Am I required to get pre-authorization for mental/behavioral health treatment?
- Do I have an annual deductible? Is the annual deductible different for in-network and out-of-network providers? What is my annual deductible and have I met it?
- What is my co-pay for an initial psychotherapy session (CPT code 90791)?
- What is my co-pay for ongoing psychotherapy sessions (CPT codes 90834 and 90837)?
- What is my co-insurance for an initial psychotherapy session (CPT code 90791)?
- What is my co-insurance for ongoing psychotherapy sessions (CPT codes 90834 and 90837)?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network Master's level psychotherapist for CPT codes 90791,90834,90837?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. I will provide you with a written copy of my confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want me to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team ( your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining you r written permission.
However, Washington state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following three situations in which case I will be obligated to inform the authorities:
- If you threaten to harm another person
- If you threaten to harm yourself or I believe you are incapable of taking care of yourself
- If you tell me about any abuse or neglect of a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person