Top 10 Questions About Therapy and Counseling

1. How do I know if I need therapy?

We have developed a brief quiz to help you determine if therapy would help you. While this is not a full assessment, it may guide your thinking and choice of whether therapy might be a good choice at this time. We also offer free phone consultations to briefly discuss the problems you are experiencing, make an initial recommendation and answer any questions you may have. Once you meet with your therapist, should you choose to make an appointment, we may update our recommendation based on new information.

2. How do I choose a therapist?

The choice of therapist is a very personal decision. Research shows that your relationship with your therapist is the most important factor in making good progress on your therapeutic goals. After you contact us for the first time, we will call you for a brief consultation. At that time we will attempt to match you with a therapist who specializes in your needs. If for any reason you don't bond with your therapist, we can either transfer you to another therapist in our practice or provide you with outside referrals. We recommend you meet with a therapist 3 times before making a decision about whether or not to continue. We respect and honor your time and your decision.

3. How long will therapy last?

This is a reasonable question and difficult to predict. Research shows that the duration of therapy is variable and can be influenced by the therapeutic approach, the strength of the relationship with your therapist, as well as factors specific to you. These other factors may include your goals, personal characteristics, the nature, severity, chronicity, and complexity of the problem(s) you are experiencing, external factors such as what else is happening in your life and available social support, the extent to which you actively engage in the treatment, and how comfortable you are with making changes.

Depending on your specific needs and goals, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with recurrent life patterns or your desire for more in-depth personal growth. Some clients experience significant improvement and some require a longer course of treatment. Therapy is a collaborative process and your progress and goals will be discussed during the course of treatment.

4. How long are sessions and how often do we meet?

Sessions are 50 min unless you request a longer appointment, which occasionally can be helpful. Typically we will meet weekly, though in some cases either twice weekly or every other week is more appropriate. You can discuss this with your therapist and they will make a recommendation based on the problems you are experiencing and your current circumstances.

5. What should I expect in the first appointment?

The first appointment will be 50 min. You will be asked to complete a brief online questionnaire (encrypted for your privacy) prior to the appointment which will give the therapist some basic information. During the appointment your therapist will ask you questions about problems you are experiencing and your goals for therapy. Sometimes an individual’s primary concerns or symptoms are not within our area of expertise. If this happens, we will refer you to another professional who can help.

6. What if there are things I don't want to talk about?

Our aim is to help you feel comfortable and safe during sessions. That means that we don't ask you to talk about anything you don't wish to talk about. We value emotional safety in therapy, which means that there may be times that we may actually slow down disclosure and processing in order to prevent you from feeling flooded by emotion. The pace of therapy is a collaborative process between you and your therapist.

7. What about privacy and confidentiality?

Your privacy is our upmost concern. We are governed by law regarding confidentialy and cannot share your information with anyone without your prior written consent. Additionally, as therapists we are mandatory reporters and there are a couple of exceptions to confidentiality. In the case of child abuse, elder abuse, or significant risk of self harm or harm to others then we may be required by law to refer out to a third party.

8. Do you prescribe medication?

We do not prescribe medication however we are happy to talk to you about the possibility of including medication in your treatment plan. If we think that medication may be helpful and you agree, then we will refer you to a local psychiatrist with whom we have developed a close relationship. If you have basic (non-medical) questions about taking medication we are happy to discuss this with you. 

9. How do I pay? Will you take my insurance?

We accept cash, check and credit card, though we prefer check if possible. We don't take insurance directly but you can request a "single case agreement" from your insurance provider if you're coming to us for specialized services that aren't covered by them, such as DBT and trauma therapy. In any case, we will provide you with a "Superbill" which is formatted for reimbursement from your insurance carrier. Please check with them directly to find out what your level of coverage is. 

10. How do I make an appointment? Do I need a referral?

The easiest way to make an appointment is to request a consultation. You can also email us directly at info@bayareamh.com or call us at 650-209-0206. We provide 20 min phone consultations free of charge. If you know that you definitely want an appointment you can schedule with one of our therapists online.

Top 10 Questions About Therapy and Counseling