Sometimes individuals come in and are not really sure what the problem is. They just know that something feels "off" and they want to change it. Other times, individuals are referred to me by their psychiatrists or primary care physicians because they've tried medication but are still struggling to manage their symptoms. Sometimes they are referred for psychological testing to determine if they have ADHD, or to examine the potential impact their symptoms are having on their cognition. And some individuals have tried therapy in the past but did not find it beneficial; however, they are experiencing an increase in discomfort and want to try it again with a different therapist.
Regardless of your reason for thinking about therapy or testing, it can be a scary decision for some adults. It means that you are admitting that something isn't quite right and that can be difficult to do. So first, I want to commend you for even thinking about it. It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help and I assure you, you are not alone. When considering therapy or testing, you want to make the best decision you can for yourself and that is the purpose of this post: to provide you with information on my approach so that you can determine if it is a good fit for you.
What you can expect when you call me
When you make the initial call, I will ask you some basic questions regarding your age and current life stressors. I will also want to know some other basic background information, but if you're not comfortable providing that at first, that's OK. We will discuss insurance and fees, I will answer any questions that you might have, and then we will schedule our first appointment if you are ready.
The first appointment
The purpose of the initial appointment (or initial assessment, as it is officially called), is to gather a comprehensive background and for me to get a picture of you and your life. You will be asked about your current situation, past experiences, and the reason you are reaching out for help at this time. We will go over a small amount of paperwork and then I will discuss a treatment plan with you that includes frequency of therapy (i.e., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly sessions) and what therapy will look like for you. You may ask whatever questions you want regarding my treatment approach, my professional background and experiences, or anything else that is important to you. We will then set up our next appointments.
My therapeutic approach
I predominantly utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying problematic thought patterns and changing behaviors. We work on problem-solving and the development of coping skills. Sometimes, I will assign you "homework" such as keeping a thought record, trying a new and healthy behavior, or attending a yoga class. Each session ends with a review of what we covered and what you will be working on before next session. I will also ask you how the structure and session was for you in order to determine if we need to modify the approach for it to be more beneficial for you.
Although I mostly use CBT, I also incorporate humanistic therapy into my approach. This allows for interventions focused on developing a stronger, healthier sense of self. This approach is a little less structured than CBT, but I find that using both approaches allows me to tailor sessions to individual personality styles more appropriately. Some people prefer highly structured sessions, some prefer sessions to be a bit more open, and some do best with a little bit of both. The philosophy of both approaches also strongly resonates with me and assists me in better understanding others.
As mentioned previously, some individuals see me because they have been referred by their psychiatrists or primary care doctors for testing. Reasons for testing include assessing for attention and concentration problems, a learning disability, processing speed problems, or to determine your cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Testing can also help differentiate diagnosis.
For testing, you will still start off on the same path as above. The phone call will be the same, and the initial assessment will be very similar. But instead of discussing the treatment plan at the end of the first appointment, I will go over the recommended testing battery with you. This entails explaining the purpose of the tests, reasons why I recommend each, the costs and insurance coverage, and the time frame for completing everything. We will then set up times for testing.
Depending on the purpose of testing and your schedule, the average testing client can expect between one and three testing sessions. However, this could vary if the battery is larger or if you have schedule restrictions that require breaking testing up into small chunks. Once testing is complete, I score everything myself (some places will have grad students or administrators do the scoring) to ensure accuracy. I then write a thorough and comprehensive report that includes the data, interpretation, and diagnostic summary. I also provide detailed recommendations for you, as well as recommendations for work or school if necessary. Lastly, we do a feedback session where I go over the results and recommendations with you. You ask any questions you have and then we determine what happens next based on the final report. You are given the final report to keep and share with whomever you choose. My copy of the report is not shared with anyone unless you have given me written permission to do so.
If you are interested in therapy or testing, do not hesitate to email or call me. I look forward to meeting you.