Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) are mental health professionals trained to work with individuals, couples, children, and families. They are licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system. LMFTs have graduate training (a Master’s or Doctoral degree) in marriage and family therapy, have completed all the requirements for licensure (i.e. 3,000 hours of supervised experience), and have passed two rigorous state board exams.
Q: What is Psychotherapy and What Benefits Can I Expect?
Psychotherapy is a treatment process designed to resolve personal problems, facilitate emotional healing, deepen self-knowledge, promote personal growth, improve communication skills, and foster healthy relationships. The treatment process takes place in the context of a professional relationship between a therapist and a client (i.e. individual, couple, family). This relationship exists only and solely for the purpose of helping the client and evolves within an atmosphere of safety and acceptance.
Therapy can provide insight and new perspectives into life’s challenges and can help create solutions to difficult problems. Many people find that working with a therapist decreases interpersonal conflict, lowers levels of depression and anxiety, and improves relationships and quality of life.
Q: Is Therapy Right for Me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people enter therapy. Sometimes people seek help in dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, body-image, or long-standing psychological issues. Other times, people enter therapy in response to unexpected challenges such as divorce, the loss of a loved one, or parenting a difficult child. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working toward change in their life.
Q: How Long Should I Expect to Be in Therapy?
It depends! If you have one specific issue to address you can expect to be in brief therapy (between 15-20 sessions). If your goals are more complex or you are seeking ongoing personal growth, therapy will take longer. Whether you are in brief or longer term therapy, it is helpful to discuss the process and your goals with your therapist.
Q: How Often Should I Come?
Weekly appointments are standard. More frequent sessions may be recommended during a time of crisis or to further progress. Most therapists discourage meeting less than once a week because it decreases the effectiveness of treatment. However, if you would like to consider less frequent visits, feel free to talk to your therapist about this. These types of discussions are welcomed and often helpful to the overall therapeutic process.
Q: Do you Prescribe Medication?
LMFT’s do not prescribe medication. If a medication evaluation is indicated, your therapist will provide you with referrals to a medical doctor(s) for an evaluation. Therapy can be a useful forum to discuss concerns about taking medication.
Q: Is My Time With You Confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of communications between a client and psychotherapist. The information you share in therapy will not be communicated to others without your consent except where disclosure is required by law.
Disclosure may be required in the following circumstances: (1) Where there is reasonable suspicion of child or elder abuse; (2) Where there is a reasonable suspicion that the client presents a danger of violence to others; or (3) where the patient is likely to harm him/ herself unless protective measures are taken. Confidentiality does not prevail in these instances because inaction on the therapist’s part may endanger the client’s life and/ or the welfare of another. (4) Disclosure may also be required pursuant to a legal proceeding though every effort will be taken to protect your confidential information.
Q: Why Do Therapists Have Strict Cancellation Policies?
Therapy requires a two-way commitment from therapist to client and vice versa. Most therapists have a cancellation policy in which they charge the full fee for a cancellation occurring less than 24-48 hours prior to the appointment. Other therapists have a “no cancellation” policy. They require that their clients commit to pay for the reserved time. In this case, the therapist may provide some options when an appointment cannot be kept, such as having a phone session or rescheduling the session.
There are two reasons for a strict policy. First, growth requires commitment and consistency. A strict policy forces a commitment, which is particularly important when therapy is difficult. It requires that a client think seriously about how invested they are in their own treatment. Secondly, a therapist has a limited number of available appointments. These times are reserved in order to promote consistency in the work. The nature of private practice is such that a therapist cannot compensate for late cancellations by “overbooking” or taking “walk-ins” (e.g. as medical clinics do). Without a strict policy, a therapist’s interests and livelihood are left unprotected.
Q: Do You Accept Insurance?
We are not on any insurance panels (HMO or PPO). Many PPO plans will cover a portion of your treatment through your “out of network” benefit. We will furnish you with a receipt that you may submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Plans vary and it is important that you check your coverage carefully.
Questions to ask your insurance company to help determine if our services are covered are: What are my outpatient mental health benefits? What is my deductible? What is my out of network benefit? How many therapy sessions or what dollar amount does my plan cover? If needed, we can assist you in this process.
Q: Why Aren’t You on My Insurance Panel?
We do not work directly with managed care companies for several reasons. First, insurance companies put profound restrictions on the number of sessions they will cover and how much they will reimburse. Many will only “authorize” a few sessions at a time. This type of practice is disruptive to continuity in therapy. Secondly, insurance companies often require reports and treatment plans from therapists on their panels. Confidential and personal information processed by insurance companies is stored in a database and can jeopardize client confidentiality. Thirdly, managed care companies hire case managers to oversee the mental health providers on their panels. In this case, a third party may dictate treatment decisions. We believe that treatment planning and procedures should be agreed upon mutually between the therapist and client.
Q: Why is Therapy So Expensive?
Therapy does involve a significant financial investment. Therapy is a specialized treatment process that facilitates insight, personal and relational healing, and behavioral change that in most cases cannot be gained without professional intervention.
Therapists have years of graduate training and professional experience. This training and expertise takes a great deal of time and financial investment to acquire. In most professions (including therapy), the more specialized and experienced the practitioner, the more they charge for their time. If you are interested in less expensive therapy services (generally provided by interns and trainees), please feel free to contact us for referrals.
Q: What is Most Important for Successful Therapy?
Research has revealed that the type or modality of therapy is less important to a successful therapeutic outcome than the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Thus, to have a good result, it is critical that you find someone whose approach you feel comfortable with and whom you feel understands you. A good “match” between a therapist and client is essential. You should feel a sense of safety and acceptance with your therapist along with a confidence that they can help you.