Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do you take insurance?

  2. Because I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, your insurance should reimburse you in accordance with your coverage for out-of-network providers. However, I am not a preferred provider with any insurance company. I want to conduct my practice in the way that seems right to me, which sometimes does not conform to the dictates of managed care organizations.

  3. Why would someone go to a psychologist?

  4. Basically, if what’s happening in your life doesn’t feel good to you, and your best efforts to change it don’t seem to be working… Or if you feel stuck, like you’re going in circles, or like you keep coming up against a brick wall, a therapist can:

    • Provide a safe, private place where you can explore what is going on, a place where you can talk about what is happening for you without having to worry about what other people might think;

    • Help you to become aware of your blind spots, the places where there is a Y in the road that you might not be seeing, so you can begin to have more choices about how to handle whatever you’re dealing with;

    • Give you some new ideas or information that might be useful in dealing with your situation.

    In relationship counseling, specifically, a counselor can:

    • Help you to develop new ways of understanding and communicating with one another that make it easier for you to trust and feel close to one another;

    • Help you learn to resolve conflicts in ways that lead to greater acceptance and even appreciation of your differences;

    • Or sometimes help people to separate in ways that are less destructive and leave fewer wounds.

  5. Am I going to be in therapy forever? How long does it take?

  6. Of course, it depends…

    • Sometimes only 1 or 2 sessions;

    • Most often maybe 10 or 20 sessions;

    • Sometimes off and on over many years as crises arise;

    • But most of my clients see me for a while and then go on with their lives. They might come back occasionally if they feel like they’re getting stuck again, but most of the time they’re off and running.

  7. Many people have concerns like these:
    • Being judged– I truly believe that nothing human is alien to me. So my orientation is not to judge – it is to help people understand how the way they are now is working for them in their lives, and what other choices they could consider that might work better. The reality is that the more I understand people, the less inclined I am to judge them. I just feel for them in their dilemma.

    • Losing control– Counseling is a collaborative project, where we work together to understand what you’re up against and what choices you have for dealing with it. I see my job as helping people to become more aware of the choices that are available to them - not as telling them what they should do

    • Being pushed to change – Some people are concerned that they’ll be pressured to change in some way that they don’t want to change. But the reality of good therapy is that people don’t become different from who they are, or who they want to be. Actually, they become more comfortable being who they are, and clearer about how they can grow in whatever direction they choose to grow.

    • The therapist will confirm that the situation is hopeless – But this is just the opposite of what counseling does. Good counseling brings light into the dark corners where people get lost, and choices to the dead ends where people get stuck. It creates new understanding and awareness that leads to new possibilities and hope…

    • The therapist will confirm that you are a bad person – bad partner or bad parent or whatever – And again, this is just the opposite of what actually happens in therapy. The more we understand why we are the way we are, the easier it is to forgive ourselves, forgive the other people we’re involved with, and discover new choices without having to blame ourselves or other people for not having seen them before.

    • The therapist will ally with the other person in the relationship– with the partner, parent, teenager, or whoever it is – This again is just the opposite of what actually happens in a good counseling relationship. The therapist’s job is to facilitate the partners being able to work through whatever is creating pain and distance and a lack of understanding between them. The therapist is on the side of the relationship, not of one partner or the other. Even if it’s a relationship that is ending, the therapist’s job is to facilitate this happening in the best way possible.

    • Therapy will waste a lot of time and money for nothing

      • People worry that there’s nothing the therapist could possibly say that they haven’t already thought of or tried, so why spend a lot of time and money just to find out what they already know.

      • They worry that the therapist is just going to sit there and nod, and ask them how they feel, without actually offering any useful new insights or perspectives.

      • They worry that the therapist won’t be able to understand their unique situation, that the counselor won’t have the personal experience or the training to effectively help them.

      • They worry that the therapist is just going to get them to blame their parents or somebody and get bogged down in the past without really doing anything to help their present situation.

    These are all legitimate fears in my opinion, and they do sometimes happen when people go for counseling. But they are not complaints that I am likely to hear from my clients, because:

      • My style is generally very active. I think my clients have hired me to tell them what I see, in a constructive way - not just to nod and be supportive without shedding any new light.

      • The experiences I’ve had in my own life often give me a deep personal understanding of what my clients are struggling with, and they can feel this.

      • I do a lot of continuing education, so I am constantly learning new ways of understanding and being helpful to my clients. In the last couple of years I’ve taken at least a dozen full courses, as well as many shorter workshops and trainings, so I really keep abreast of new insights and developments in my field.

      • I am not a psychoanalyst like you might see depicted in a Woody Allen movie. I’m interested in helping people to understand what’s happening in the present so they have more control over what happens in the future.

        We don’t generally spend a lot of time on the past except when it is important for making sense out of what is happening now. In any case, the purpose is not to assign blame, but to become more aware of what has happened and what it has meant to you, so we can better understand your experience of your life and your awareness of the choices that are available to you now.

  8. Why are you a psychologist?

    • My own background (see Bio) made it important and interesting for me to understand how people can overcome a background like mine, and not let it affect their whole lives.

    • The therapy that I myself received made an enormous difference for my life, so I really believe in the power of therapy to transform people’s lives.

    • Honestly, I’m a psychologist because of the way I naturally am. When I applied to the Palo Alto VA for my doctoral internship, the head of my program wrote me a letter of recommendation saying that I came “as close to being a natural therapist as anyone we’ve ever had in our program”… So I’m just lucky there’s a profession that lets me make a living doing what is natural and fulfilling for me to do

  9. What is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist?

  10. A Licensed Clinical Psychologist in California holds a doctoral degree from an accredited institution, and has completed many hours of supervision as well as passing the California state licensing exams. Additionally, we must certify completion of continuing education requirements in order to renew our license every two years.

    Licensed Clinical Psychologists are trained in understanding how people are, what causes people to have problems, and what helps people to resolve those problems (within themselves or with one another) and to optimize their potential. We learn the science of human behavior and how to do and interpret scientific research. We receive a lot of supervision, which (among other things) helps us to learn how our personal style could be most helpful to our clients, and how it might get in the way.