What to expect during your first visit:
If you have printed patient forms from this website, please bring the completed forms with you on your first visit. If you have not filled out these forms, please plan on arriving 15 or 20 minutes before your appointment time. When you enter the waiting room, look on the table for a clipboard with your first name on it. This clipboard contains the informational forms and consents that you must complete prior to our meeting.
At the beginning of our first meeting, I will summarize the consents and disclosures, giving you a chance to address any questions or concerns that you might have. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, even if you happen to think of something after our meeting. I have listed both my direct phone line and my email address on the home page for your use.
Much of the first session will be spent helping me gain an understanding of your reasons for seeking help. We typically cover a number of areas during the first session, and you might feel that we have jumped around and barely scratched the surface. This is normal! You are helping me understand what you have been living with for a long time, often for a lifetime, and it takes a while to cover all of the bases. I typically consider the evaluation to last several sessions as I get to know you and understand your issues.
Psychotherapy is a very different proposition from what many people experience with their physicians. I do not consider myself to be an all-knowing expert, but rather someone who has specialized knowledge and ways of looking at things that is different from your way. This knowledge and perspective is something I share with you on an ongoing basis, with the purpose of using it as hypotheses to understand and change what you decide needs doing so. You are not a passive recipient of medical services, but an equal colleague in a supportive and respectful relationship embarking on a mission to help you understand and make new choices.
What to expect during the therapeutic process:
Psychotherapy is not easily described in general terms. It is a process of talking about events, issues, conflicts, and feelings in ways that help to lessen their pain while freeing our energy to live life. What we talk about varies depending on the personalities of the psychologist and client, as well as on the particular problems you are experiencing. There are many different methods I might use to deal with the problems that you hope to address. Psychotherapy is not like a visit to a medical doctor. Instead, it calls for a very active effort on your part. In order for the therapy to be most successful, you will have to think about and/or work on things we talk about both during our sessions and at home.
Our first few sessions will involve an evaluation of your needs. By the end of the evaluation, I will be able to offer some ideas about what our work will include and a treatment plan to follow. You should evaluate this information along with your opinions about whether you feel comfortable working with me. Therapy involves a large commitment of time, energy, and money, so you should be careful about the therapist you select. If you have questions or feel uncomfortable about anything, I encourage you to bring them up as soon as they arise. If you don’t feel we are a good fit, I will help you set up a meeting with another mental health professional.
Psychotherapy has benefits and risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you might experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, psychotherapy has also been shown to have many benefits *(see below). Therapy often leads to significant reductions in feelings of distress, solutions to specific problems, and better relationships. However, there are no guarantees of what you will experience.
*There are myriad sources which address the efficacy of psychotherapy. I choose to limit myself to two trusted authorities: the Journal of the American Medical Association and Consumer Reports. Yes, you read correctly. I have used both for many decades and find them to be reputable and reliable sources of helpful information.
For the full text of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) research article on The Benefits of Long Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (2008), click here:
Summary: A meta-analysis of therapy studies published between January 1, 1960, and May 31, 2008. Long term psychodynamic psychotherapy showed significantly higher outcomes in overall effectiveness, target problems, and personality functioning than shorter forms of psychotherapy. After treatment with long term psychodynamic psychotherapy patients with complex mental disorders on average were better off than 96% of the patients in the comparison groups. According to subgroup analyses, long term psychodynamic psychotherapy yielded significant, large, and stable within-group effect sizes across various and particularly complex mental disorders
For the full text of the Consumer Reports article on Mental health: Does therapy help?, click here:
Summary: Findings were that patients “benefited very substantially from psychotherapy, that long-term treatment did considerably better than short-term treatment, and that psychotherapy alone did not differ in effectiveness from medication plus psychotherapy. Patients whose length of therapy or choice of therapist was limited by insurance or managed care did worse.