Below you will find answers to common questions that clients ask, or wish they could ask. If your questions are not answered here, or you’d like elaboration, please feel free to contact me. Your privacy and confidentiality are extremely important to me.
- What are your office hours?
I work Monday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Do you accept my insurance?
I am a preferred (in-network) provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medical Assistance. If you have other insurance, I will be happy to see you and provide you with a receipt to submit to your insurance company if you have out-of-network benefits. Please see my Insurance & Fees page for additional information.
- How long does a session last?
Counseling sessions generally run 60 minutes, though I also do 45-minute sessions if that is what you need. The first appointment typically lasts a full hour. To respect your time and that of the next client, ending on time is important.
- How long will I be in counseling?
Your needs and goals will ultimately determine how long you will be in therapy. The length of counseling varies depending upon the particular issues being addressed, personal factors including your motivation and effort, and life circumstances such as interactions with your family, spouse/partner, friends and others. The choice of when to end counseling is always yours. Many people feel some relief in the first session, and most deem counseling successful when major challenges have been overcome.
- Can counseling really help me?
Many people find counseling to be beneficial. Research increasingly supports the idea that emotional and physical health are closely linked and that seeing a psychologist can improve a person’s overall health.
In a 2010 Consumer Reports survey focusing in the treatment of anxiety and depression, people who participated in counseling for seven or more sessions reported as much improvement as those who only took medication. Counseling is “an investment worth making,” says Consumer Reports.
In the 1995 Consumer Reports survey about the effectiveness of counseling, nine out of 10 people surveyed felt they had improved as a result of counseling. It also revealed that long-term counseling produced more improvement than short-term counseling.
Although these and other positive results about the effectiveness of counseling are encouraging in general, there are no guarantees regarding individual counseling outcomes. Your commitment to the process is a very important factor in a positive result.
- What kind of counseling do you do?
My approach to helping people is based in cognitive behavioral therapy with influences from psychodynamic and EMDR principles. With experience in a variety of treatment approaches, I am able to integrate these methods depending on your needs. Click here for more information on how I work with clients.
- What is canine-assisted therapy?
In my work, canine-assisted therapy means that my dog, Prince, is sometimes present for a counseling session if a client chooses. Studies have shown that the mere presence of a domestic animal can reduce anxiety levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease elevated heart rates.
- Can you assure me that my privacy & confidentiality will be protected?
Your privacy and confidentiality are extremely important to me.
Since I both live and work in the South Metro, it is possible to run into each other at local events, at the grocery store, or other places outside the therapy office. To respect your privacy, I will not greet you or act as if I know you, unless you ask me to do so.
Minnesota law, HIPAA regulations, and professional ethical standards set some limits to confidentiality in cases such as child or elder abuse, a judge’s order, and risk of suicide or homicide. To assure your confidentiality, I require a release before talking with anyone else, such as your primary care provider, another treatment provider, or a family member. The law and the profession set some limits to confidentiality in cases such as child or elder abuse, a judge’s order, and risk of suicide or homicide. Please see my Psychologist-Patient Agreement for exact details.
In addition, if you use your insurance for payment you sign a release for me to provide a diagnosis code to them so they pay for our sessions. The release, which is a requirement of any insurance company, also allows them to review your file if they request it, although this is an unusual occurrence. Some people choose not to use their insurance to prevent the insurance company from having this information, since it can impact your future ability to obtain health, life, or disability insurance.
- Does being in counseling mean there’s something wrong with me or that I have a mental illness?
Psychologists help people cope with common problems of daily living as well as serious mental health issues. Such problems include stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems and many other difficulties that can affect a person’s happiness and general well-being. It is a misconception to think that counseling is only for people with serious mental illnesses.
Unfortunately our society still places a stigma on those who seek help for their problems. All too often we try to solve our problems alone, only to see them persist or get worse. Seeing a psychologist is not a sign of serious mental illness or personal “weakness.” Rather, it indicates you are taking a positive step to achieve personal growth and development.
- What are some common pitfalls in counseling?
There are a number of misconceptions about how counseling “works.” The following are the most common issues that arise for both first-time and experienced clients.
- Being unrealistic about the length of time it will take for change to take place.
- Wanting to dismiss problems too quickly to avoid facing deeper issues.
- Not making the commitment to therapy a priority.
- Not adequately expressing your expectations for treatment.
- Remaining passive during treatment, and expecting that your counselor will “fix you.”
- Ending counseling after medications begin to take effect and your symptoms begin to improve.
- Becoming over-concerned about the expense, not recognizing that counseling is an investment that produces lasting results.
- Can you prescribe medications?
As a psychologist in the state of Minnesota, I cannot prescribe medications. However, if we determine that medications are an option worth exploring for you, I can give you a referral to someone who can prescribe.