How do I choose a therapist?

It can be very frustrating to look over a list of names and addresses of therapists without having a clue as to how to choose one. Location is one consideration, but not the main one. In terms of training, psychologists have a Ph.D. for which they have researched human behavior and have experienced thousands of hours of internships. There are also marriage and family therapists and social workers who have a Masters degree. In some cases you can talk to the therapist on the phone for a few minutes to verify a potential match. It is difficult to predict personal chemistry. But going in for the first session should give you an idea about your level of comfort and confidence in the psychologist.

What is the difference between psychotherapy, counseling or coaching?

These three terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Sometimes the provider is limited by training or licensure. However, as a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology I have full training in psychopathology to treat a full range of disorders, training in counseling psychology for less serious matters and coaching for professionals who want to maximize their performance.

What type of therapy do I need?

You may have been told you need “cognitive-behavioral therapy” or “supportive psychotherapy” or some other type of therapy. Every situation is unique. I tailor the therapy to your particular needs. Change can come about by altering your thoughts, altering your behavior, addressing your emotions or a combination of the three. An overly analytical person my need to shift his or her attention to emotions. On the other hand, a highly emotional person may need to become more grounded in logical thinking.

What should I expect when I go in to see a psychologist?

On the first session or two I will be asking you questions about the issue that you want to address. This may include going into your life history, depending on the circumstances and the immediate issue that is being addressed. It is not always useful to analyze your entire life, but your past can be addressed in light of the current challenges in your life. Psychotherapy is a collaborative process in which the psychologist assists you in looking at your problem from other perspectives.

How often should I meet with the psychologist?

Typically you will meet with the psychologist once per week. This gives you a chance to put into practice what you are learning in the course of the week after the session. In some cases the sessions are less frequent. However, it is generally more time and cost effective to meet on a weekly basis for at least the first several sessions to develop some momentum.

How long will I need to be in therapy?

This is difficult to quantify on a general basis. Some people get the help they need in a few sessions and others attend dozens of sessions. Most people I work with do not need long term therapy Setting clear goals at the outset will make it easier to know when the sessions are complete. It is your individual decision when you feel you have derived enough from the therapy. The idea is not to resolve every problem in your life, but to feel like you have the momentum to keep dealing with the challenges on your own.

How much privacy do I have in psychotherapy?

Information in psychotherapy is confidential. There are a few legal exceptions regarding safety, including suicidal or homicidal intent or child abuse. When insurance is involved the carrier will usually require a diagnosis and sometimes a list of symptoms. But when you are coming to my office on a private basis such information remains private and is not released to anyone without your consent. I respect your privacy and will protect it.

How soon can I get started?

By calling 858-673-9600 you can set up an appointment through the receptionist. You need to indicate if you have a preference for the office in La Jolla or Poway. You can also email and we will follow up either by phone or email. Messages can be left through either mode 24 hours per day.