What is the best way to set up an appointment with you?
In order to set us up for a good start, I offer a 15-20 minute complimentary consultation by phone. When you call me (561-287-2088), or you email me to set up this consultation ([email protected]), we can chat and I can guide you through our initial conversation. During this brief conversation I will ask what your therapy goals are, or what you are looking for in a therapist in particular. If you are unsure, I will ask you if you can give me a nutshell version of what led you to reach out to call a psychologist. Once you tell me a little bit more about what you are looking for, I can then describe to you how I tend to approach working with people with similar goals, and describe to you a little bit what I think our work can look like. If what I describe sounds like a good plan, we then will discuss pragmatic matters like scheduling, price of services, use of technology, etc. During this call, I will ensure to make myself available for any questions you may have that can help you make an informed decision as you choose a therapist. What I suggest you look for, is how you feel in our interaction and make sure you feel heard, you feel comfortable, and you feel like we can connect.
After the complimentary call, then what?
At the end of our first call, if it feels like it will be a good fit and based on what you shared, I feel I can be of help, we can set up an initial consultation, also called an intake. An intake is a 50-60 minutes long appointment. Form my end, my role during this appointment is to make a connection with you, help you feel as comfortable as possible, answer any questions you may have, and give you a picture of what working together would look like. I will have a series of questions designed to help me better understand you and assess your needs as best as I can. By the end of this hour, I will be able to make clinical recommendations for you (type of psychological services recommended, frequency, etc) and then together, we can make decisions about how to proceed. If the psychological services I am recommending after this assessment are not services that I offer, I will actively offer and facilitate a referral to those appropriate services. If I do offer the services that I recommend (for example, weekly therapy) then we can schedule your sessions at a time convenient for both of us (or three of us if you seek couple’s therapy).
How frequently do I have to do therapy? How long are the on-going sessions?
The frequency of therapy is a clinical recommendation that I can make once your needs are assessed more thoroughly during our intake appointment, and beyond. As a general guideline, in the beginning I tend to recommend weekly sessions (once a week) because my first job in working with you is to earn your trust, and in order to earn your trust, we have to spend time building a connection, for which the weekly sessions help. Because of my schedule and current availability, I usually cannot see clients more than once per week. If I conduct an intake appointment and it seems that having therapy more than once a week is that is recommended for you, I will refer you out to a service that can provide that, which is usually a higher level of care than what an outpatient psychologist can offer (example: an agency, or an intensive outpatient facility or an inpatient program or facility).
How long will therapy take?
This is the question perhaps most people ask, and the hardest one to answer. The most accurate answer is: it depends.
One of the aspects that can influence how long you stay in therapy, is what you are looking for in therapy. Many people use therapy as a source for a continued self-assessment, to increase knowledge of self in relationships with others, and to have a space to process the ins and outs of day to day life, with attention to relationship patterns, increased self-compassion, and to make more intentional decisions in your life and your relationships. People who approach therapy this way, usually remain in therapy for many years. This is what is called long-term insight-oriented psychotherapy. My personal favorite, since it is a true joy to accompany people in their life journey and to see people grow in their understanding of their inner workings and begin to make informed decisions that help them feel more empowered, more satisfied, and more present in their lives. Other people, however, come to therapy with a very specific goal. For example, their goal may be to work through the grief of having lost a loved one tragically. For those people, usually there is a specific goal that they are working towards and so therapy may be shorter, although still very difficult to determine how long it will take. With people with specific goals, I make sure to check in from time to time to evaluate their sense of how therapy is helping them reach their goal, and we will work towards having a shared understanding of when the client may feel they have reached their goal. Collaboration and open communication is essential.
Another aspect that can determine the length of therapy may be resources. Perhaps someone wants to try therapy for six months, and has the resources to be able to pay for therapy for six months, but no more than that. In that case, we will work to establish realistic goals, and while acknowledging that it is usually unlikely to guarantee to “be done” in six months, we will agree to do the best we can in those six months to reach what realistic goals seem to be most important and most achievable.
Last but not least, another aspect that will determine length of work is the type of therapy you are looking for. For example, couples call about Gottman therapy (which usually will last about a year and a half all in all), or EMDR. EMDR therapy tends to be a shorter-term therapy given that it tends to be a goal-oriented therapy (example, to resolve symptoms of PTSD after a car accident), and thus it is possible that you may reach your therapy goals in a few months. If, however, you are seeking EMDR for larger goals such as healing from childhood abuse or childhood trauma, then we will have to assess whether EMDR is a good fit for you, and we will need to assume that more than likely, therapy will last longer because it will require EMDR as well as more traditional talk therapy in order to accomplish your goals.
These examples are not exhaustive, but my hope is to give you as much as I can, a sense of what different scenarios might look like. What I can promise you, is that I will be open, transparent, and collaborative in creating with you a personalized treatment plan that fits your clinical needs, your goals, and your preferences.
Why are you only offering teletherapy?
This is a great question. Let me begin by sharing with you that I have been offering telepsychological services since 2013, way before the pandemic. Because I trained in Oregon, I was licensed first in Oregon, then in Illinois and later in Florida. Currently, I am licensed in Illinois and Florida, and am working on licensure in Minnesota. Back in 2013, I completed my first continuing education courses in telepsychology in preparation for my move to Florida in 2015. I knew that I wanted to remain licensed in Illinois and would want to continue to be there for a select few of my long-term clients from Illinois. When I moved to Florida in 2015 I was already established with telepsychology and was already offering telepsychology to clients, as long as they resided either in Illinois or in Florida. Once the pandemic hit in 2020, it was very easy for me to make the switch for teletherapy because I had already had training, was already set up, and was already seeing clients this way. As the pandemic progressed and I continued to offer teletherapy in order to keep every one of my clients as safe from the virus as I could, psychologists started to conduct avid research on this area and started to find that telepsychology is as effective as in person services, in most cases. I also heard from my clients who love the convenience for their schedule, the comfort of being at home or in their place of work for their sessions, and the progress we were able to make as very few cancelations are needed when sessions are offered via teletherapy. As such, I have decided to specialize in telepsychology and I am finalizing a credentialing program that is endorsed by the National Register and the American Psychological Association in Telepsychology. I am excited to offer this specialized service to my clients in Illinois, Florida and soon in Minnesota.
What type of Teletherapy you offer? Is Zoom ok to use?
I offer videoconference, where you and I log into a secure video platform that is secure and private, and can engage in a psychotherapy session together. I use a program called Simple Practice that serves as my scheduler, billing tracker, and secure HIPAA compliant videoconference. Simple Practice has designed for our use a very easy to use video platform. You will receive a link to your email or text, and once you click, you will directly transferred to my virtual waiting room and at the time of the session, we can begin. You will need a reliable connection to internet (wifi or ethernet), to be in a private place, and to use a laptop, tablet or mobile device with video.
What do the letters after your name mean? I see counselors with many letters after their names and I am not sure what they all mean.
The letters after a person’s name are actually very important, and there are SO MANY variations, that most of us easily become confused. It is a myth that the more letters, the most qualified the practitioner. Instead, learning what those letters actually mean will show you the years of training and experience that a potential therapist has, and that is what actually makes the difference.
I have two sets of letters after my name: Ph.D. and ABPP. In the world of mental health, a PhD along with an ABPP are the highest qualifications you can obtain, showing the most amount of years of training and experience a psychologist can have. In order to earn a Ph.D, which is a Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration on counseling psychology, a person with a Master’s Degree in Psychology, and in some rare cases a person with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, has to apply. A PhD program receives hundreds of applications each year. After a thorough process of reviewing materials, and screening interviews, as well as onsite visits and further interviews, a cohort of about 7-10 students are selected. A PhD program tends to be scientifically oriented, so a heavy focus is placed on research methods and scientific investigations, as well as on the classwork and clinical practica. Each cohort of 7-10 is paired with different faculty who serve as advisors, who mentor only a few doctoral students through their training and their research, and oversee their dissertation , which in most PhD programs has to be a scientific paper that will be published in a top tier scientific journal. Many PhD programs will last about 7-10 years to complete due to the heavy requirements for publishing research in scientific journals, as well as heavy requirements for clinical training and clinical supervision. I was admitted to the PhD program with a Bachelor’s Degree, so I took extra classes and did extra research to complete my Master’s Degree on my way to earn a PhD. It took me 6 years to graduate from the PhD program which included a one year of full time pre-doctoral clinical internship, plus after that I completed a one year of clinical full time post doctoral supervised clinical work. Once those two last years of clinical training were completed, I was able to sit for the professional exam called the EPPP (click here for more information on what the EPPP is). I took 6 months to study for this exam, and passed. Once passed, I was then able to apply for a Psychologist License in the state of Oregon. When I moved from Oregon to Illinois, I had to then apply for licensure in Illinois, and then when I moved to Florida I had to yet again apply for licensure in the state of Florida. Each state has their own laws and their own requirements for who is qualified to be a licensed psychologist in each state.
The next round of letters after my name is ABPP. This means that I am Board Certified in Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. I applied as a mid career psychologist for this board certification and the process took about a year. During that year, you summarize everything that you do in your day to day work and tie your work to the scientific literature to justify what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. This gets reviewed by a panel of experts. You also have to do a thorough case presentation to showcase your clinical work and to tie your work to theory and to the research that is relevant to the case you are presenting. After a process of feedback and fine tuning the written presentation of your work, you then complete an oral examination where you defend all your work in front of a panel of experts (different from the experts who reviewed your materials at first). Board Certification means that a psychologist has been examined and deemed highly competent in their area of specialty. Approximately only 4 percent of psychologists are Board certified.
I encourage you to ask your therapist what the letters after their name means, and that you ask what kind of training leads to the letters after their name, so that you can make an informed choice as much as you can.