Frequently Asked Questions
Can therapy help me?
Therapy can be effective for many different people and for a variety of different issues. Sometimes, people want help with managing a specific issue or problem, sometimes they may want to work through some life challenge or broach an area of growth, and sometimes they may want to devote time during the week toward maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing. Either way, therapy can help you to identify a target area of focus and work toward reaching a goal in the context of a supportive, collaborative and nonjudgmental relationship. Therapy is a commitment that requires effort and energy and often involves continued work outside of sessions. For example, exposure therapy for OCD or PTSD would require regular "homework" that is first planned, agreed upon and practiced in session. When committed to the therapeutic process, it can have truly transformative results. For example, I have worked with patients who have suffered with severe symptoms for up to fifty years and have reported and demonstrated a dramatic reduction in symptoms after just a few weeks of starting therapy.
Why work with a psychologist?
While several disciplines offer therapeutic services, psychologists offer a unique perspective and skill-set as therapy providers. Before being able to practice independently, psychologists undergo rigorous supervised training, typically for at least five to seven years followed by continued post-doctoral training, with training incorporating clinical work, research, psychological assessment and teaching. To be considered proficient as therapy providers, psychologists typically accrue thousands of hours of providing services to patients of diverse backgrounds and presentations, in different settings and from multiple approaches to treatment. PhD programs in psychology also have a special emphasis on conducting research and using research to guide clinical practice and deliver effective, high-quality treatment. Training in assessment measures not only ensures competency in administering and interpreting psychological evaluations, but also in using assessment measures to guide treatment and track progress.
What does therapy look like?
Typically, therapy consists of 45 minute or 60 minute sessions occurring weekly or biweekly. Still, there is no one precise "look" to therapy. Although all therapy involves working progressively toward a goal(s), therapy can be highly structured and standardized or can be more open and flexible. It can be more traditional such as meeting in an office, or less traditional such as engaging in OCD exposure exercises on a metro/subway platform. Therapy can also involve working one-on-one with a therapist, bringing in family members or friends to improve relationship dynamics and/or by participating in group treatment. Ultimately, the important thing is to develop a system of therapy that is right for each particular person and that appropriately and effectively meets therapy goals.
What is the advantage of empirically supported treatment and evidence-based practice?
Presently, there are many different types of therapy advertised and consistently emerging "buzzwords" and popular trends in therapy, which can make choosing a therapist and starting therapy a difficult and confusing prospect. In brief, evidence-based and empirically supported treatments are treatments that have been found to be effective in controlled, clinical research trials. As therapy is an effortful and emotional process and an investment of your time and money, choosing providers who can offer effective, well-established treatments can be important in your search for a therapist and psychological treatment.
How long does it take to see improvement?
The length of treatment and time toward progress may depend upon many factors, such as the severity of the presenting issue, type of therapy being employed, consistency in attending sessions and engaging in homework, and external factors and life events. That being said, my objective as a therapist is to help you to develop the tools necessary to face challenges, alleviate symptoms and improve your life. My objective is not to extend therapy unnecessarily or foster dependence, but rather help you to achieve your goals as effectively and efficiently as possible. Oftentimes, particularly in utilizing empirically supported treatments, tremendous progress can be achieved in a matter of several weeks to months! As patients meet their goals and symptoms alleviate, I oftentimes work with patients to "titrate down" therapy or transition to a maintenance phase of therapy so as to continue to provide whatever support necessary as they take increasingly more independent management of their health and wellbeing.
Will my information be kept private?
Privacy and confidentiality in therapy is of the utmost importance. Not only is it critical that you feel safe and comfortable in therapy, trust your provider and have the opportunity for honest discourse, anything discussed in therapy is protected by both standards for professional practice by the American Psychological Association and by state law governing privilege and confidentiality. This means that I will need your express, written permission to share your confidential information (for example, if you would like me to communicate with a spouse or collaborate with other providers on your behalf). There are certain limits to confidentiality in which privacy and confidentiality cannot be secured, such as circumstances requiring disclosure in order to protect your safety or the safety of another person, but this will be discussed with you before starting treatment.