What is psychotherapy?

Therapy is not easily described.  It varies depending on the personalities of the psychologist and client, the particular problems of a client, and the therapist's theoretical orientation. In truth, therapy is unique for each client.  There are many different ways we might address the problems you bring to therapy.  It involves a very active relationship between client and therapist. In order for therapy to be most successful, you will have to work on issues both during and between sessions. Progress in therapy depends on many factors including the client's motivation, effort, life circumstances and the therapeutic connection. 

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

The work of psychologists and psychiatrists often overlaps, but there are some important differences.  The biggest difference is that psychologists go to graduate school for training and receive a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) while psychiatrists go to medical school and receive an M.D.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medications for psychological distress, whereas most psychologists do not have prescription privileges.  Because there is strong research that supports a combination of medication and psychotherapy, I sometimes recommend that a client see a psychiatrist to be evaluated for medication.  In these situations, the psychiatrist and I will work collaboratively with you to develop an effective treatment plan.

Can I use my health insurance?

If you have a health insurance policy, it will often (but not in all cases) provide some coverage for mental health services.  I am considered an "out-of-network provider" for health insurance plans.  This means that if we work together, you will need to pay for services in each session, and I will give you receipts and provide you with whatever help you need so you can receive the reimbursement you might be entitled to receive.  It is important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers.  If you have questions about your coverage, discuss them with your plan administrator or your human resources officer. 

Please be aware that insurance companies often require therapists to provide them with a clinical diagnosis. Health and treatment records are typically requested by insurance companies when you apply for life insurance and disability insurance.  Though all insurance companies claim to keep such information confidential, once it is in their hands I have no control over what they do with the information.  Do remember that you always have the right not to seek reimbursement for the services I offer to avoid the problems described above.  

I want to discuss very personal and private things.  How confidential are the things I say in therapy?

The confidentiality of our sessions is very important to me. In my practice, communication between me and my clients (or between me and those who my clients have authorized me to contact) are protected by federal and state laws, and by professional standards and ethics. To the degree allowed by law, information you disclose in therapy will not be shared with any person or organization unless you give me a specific, and when possible, written release to do so. While you are free to discuss anything that occurs in our sessions with anyone, I may not discuss you or our communications without your authorization. However, there are some situations when all mental health professionals are legally mandated to break confidentiality.  I have created some documents that explain this more fully and will discuss them with you at the beginning of our first session.