Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions
+ - I’m nervous about starting therapy. Is that normal?
Therapy can be vulnerable and new, so it’s natural to be nervous. It takes courage to continue towards getting support.
Therapy is a space where you can be yourself, feel free from any judgement, and bring all of the feelings you may have into session, including feeling nervous. I am committed to ensuring sessions are as comfortable as possible. I believe strongly that developing a working relationship with trust and connection is a necessary first step to effective therapy.
I will honor your pace.
I’m here if you want to talk about it during a brief introductory phone call to learn more about services. You can schedule your call by emailing me with your availability and general reason for seeking therapy at email@example.com. I will make every effort to respond by the next business day.
+ - How do I know if you are the right therapist for me?
Take your time to read through my website. If you sense that I may be a good fit based on what you are reading, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It may be helpful to consider my specializations in anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, phobias, self esteem or chronic shame issues, and issues of young adulthood. You may identify with one or many of these areas when seeking therapy with me. When we work together we will address the broader range of individualized areas impacting you.
I enjoy working with clients who are willing to try new things, practice skills between session, and prioritize therapy appointments when scheduled. I work with clients who value self-growth, understanding, and are looking for a warm compassionate therapist who takes an active direct role in their treatment.
During your free introductory call, you can ask me questions about my approach, how I can help with your specific needs, or any other questions you may have, including those that are specific to you. It is often helpful to discuss what you are looking for in a therapist and how involved you are wanting to be in the treatment process so we can ensure a good fit for both of us. You can also get a feel for your comfort speaking to me during this consultation.
If at any point you decide not to move forward, please know that I will fully respect your choice. My approach will not work best for everyone and research shows that a good therapeutic connection is one of the most important parts of effective therapy. I can provide referrals that may better meet your specific needs within 1-2 days of contact if we decide it is not the right fit. My priority is to ensure that your efforts at reaching out were helpful.
+ - What if I struggle to share certain important topics?
If something feels overwhelming or even terrifying to discuss, that’s actually very normal. Many people feel fear or shame around some topics when beginning therapy. If it is the right fit, you will likely feel some level of general comfort, but trust takes time to build. This is expected.
As we work together my hope is that you will begin to feel more confident in the security of our relationship as well as in your ability to feel and tolerate difficult emotions.
I will support you in getting there and it is okay if you are not ready at any point. I will always respect your comfort and timeline.
You can also share with me that you are nervous to open up about something and we can talk about the nervousness as a first step. You can bring up whatever is present for you. Whatever you are going through we can explore it together.
Please know that nothing you can say will cause me to judge you.
I know we all have our strengths and weaknesses, we all suffer in different ways, and we may have normal reactions to abnormally challenging experiences. Society often teaches us to feel shame regarding our emotions or experiences and it is my goal to undo this shame and replace it with self-compassion.
Whatever it is you’re going through I will provide a calming space where I respect you and listen with focus and compassion to support your growth. I take an active thoughtful role in supporting your growth and healing.
When you share difficult topics, I will think of you as courageous and human. It takes courage to own your mistakes, talk honestly about painful memories, identify and adapt unhelpful beliefs, experience full emotion, and allow me to impact the way you have always managed in the past. I respect you for this vulnerability and your choice to actively participate in healing.
When you share difficult things, I feel honored that you chose me to guide you through this process.
+ - Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
It can be concerning feeling like things you say or do in therapy could “get out”. I want you to know that unless there is an imminent danger to yourself or someone else, everything you share with me is completely confidential.
I highly respect your privacy and value your trust.
You can rest assured that you can talk about anything without fear of that information getting out.
If you have specific questions about how confidentiality works, you can ask during your during a free phone or online consultation or anytime during our work together.
+ - How long will therapy take?
You might be asking about how long therapy will take because you are currently struggling and want relief quickly. If this is true for you, I want you to know that on average, my new clients start seeing small amounts of growth after the first 3-4 sessions.
By that point, clients often feel a little less alone in their experience and have increased hope that healing is possible. You will likely feel a greater sense of investment in the therapy process.
The total duration of therapy is similar among most of my clients. I offer depth work to get to the root of the issues you are experiencing and create long term change. You may notice relief of initial concerns quickly while also feeling other new symptoms arise. This is normal and helpful in understanding how the symptoms developed, their function in your life, and in creating new patterns. We can address these deeper issues over time.
My clients tend to stay for 6 months to one year with the option of longer term if needs persist and if my clients are looking for longer term support. I often start with weekly sessions to build our connection and offer more regular support and decrease frequency as symptoms reduce.
My clients generally communicate feeling comfortable decreasing session frequency, taking a break, or ending therapy altogether when they start noticing they can handle difficult situations in life with more confidence. They often share that emotions no longer cause fear and a sense of stuckness and they are able to treat themselves with compassion more often while actively seeking out and living a life aligned with their specific values.
You are a part of determining the length of therapy and when you feel ready to end. I welcome you to bring up fears and readiness for change whenever they arise, and we can discuss them with no pressure to make a decision that is right for you. Together we can determine the best way to effectively meet your goals.
+ - What is your availability for sessions?
At this time, I am providing in person, video, and telephone appointments. I currently have 1 weekly in person opening on Tuesday mornings in my San Diego office as well as 1-2 Tuesday afternoon video appointments. If you need an evening appointment I may be able to do a weekday evening telephone appointment at 7pm. I do my best to keep my availability current so you can get an idea of your preferred time as well as explore how it would be prioritized in your schedule, prior to our initial appointment or call.
You can email me regarding any scheduling questions at email@example.com.
+ - What can I expect during the first session?
Overall, you can think of the first session as a structured 50 minute assessment that helps me get to know you and the challenges that brought you into treatment. I’ll invite you to share more about yourself and we can also talk about what’s worked or not worked for your mental health in the past.
Some questions that I like to ask during a first session include:
- What brought you to therapy?
- Have you gone to therapy before? How did that go?
- What do I need to know about you to understand your current challenges?
You can ask me questions as well. You might be curious about my experience or how future sessions work.
We can review consents and forms you signed prior to our initial session to clarify and review any questions you may have.
The most important part of a first session is to experience what therapy is like with me. If you feel supported, seen, and at-ease with me, we can discuss if you’d like to meet again.
+ - How can I get the most from online therapy?
I find active regular engagement with the therapy process, both during sessions and throughout the week, to be the most important way you can contribute to your growth. It is often helpful to take some notes or sit and reflect for a few minutes after session to let the experience sink in and get in touch with how you feel before returning to your routine. If possible, give yourself 15 minutes uninterrupted before and after sessions.
If you will be attending sessions from your computer or phone in your home setting, there are a few things that might be helpful.
- Find a space where you will have complete privacy and comfort with limited distractions. It can be helpful to use a white noise machine or loud fan placed directly outside of the room you choose to use, in order to support you in feeling that you can talk freely without being overheard. A parked car or private outdoor space also works for some people. Using the same space each week can make therapy feel more consistent and increase sense of connection.
- Bring comfort items of your choice. Some examples are having tissues nearby, tea or a calming beverage or snack, candle, non-distracting fidget item, blanket (weighted or heated blankets can be very soothing), and a supportive comfortable place to sit.
- Please make sure that all apps and browsers not in use are closed prior to our session, make sure that your device is charged or charging, and turn up your brightness and volume to support a good internet connection. If you have any additional issues let me know and I can help. Most of the time it is a very simple solution like setting up near your internet connection or switching from internet to data. I am here to guide you through any challenges that may come up.
+ - How can I get started?
I am here to talk during a brief introductory phone call where you can speak to what’s bothering you and I can share my ideas around how I can help you.
Email me today to schedule at firstname.lastname@example.org.