Q: Are you providing Telehealth services or In-Office services or both?
A: I am providing primarily In-Office services. I am willing to discuss with you any health conditions you have that preclude your coming in person. I can also provide teletherapy to those whose traveling from outside the greater Charlotte area including into certain States that participate in the PsyPACT interstate compact.
For those wishing to come into the office, but concerned about COVID, I have my own large waiting room, have bathroom facilities that very few people use, and have a very large consultation room (more than 18 feet long). If you have health sensitivities or are living with someone who does, I am willing to wear a mask in session. So, you will be able to maintain a safe and comfortable distance when visiting my office.
Q: How do I know if I need therapy; is there really even a problem here?
A: If you are thinking you might need some help for you or your child, you probably do. I recommend you come in for a consultation. In most cases, if the problem has reached the point where you are considering getting some help, you probably need help. If you or your child do not need help or need some other kind of help, I will not only tell you, I will help you find it.
A: I have more than twenty-eight years of full-time, post-doctoral practice. I have had broad training and experience and I enjoy helping people with a wide variety of problems. On the other hand, I prefer working in those areas in which I have the most expertise and interest. If your therapy needs fall outside my area of practice, I will gladly help you find a provider who works in that practice area for your referral. (See the Areas of Expertise tab)
Q: How will I know if you are the right therapist for me (or my child)?
A: You will know that I am the right provider for you if you (or your child) feel I am listening well, understanding you or your child, have a good understanding of the problem and of what you have said you want, that the important points are being addressed, and that you are learning about yourself, or your child is learning about himself/herself. You may not like everything I say to you, but that is not necessary in order for you to benefit. In fact, in a good therapy, there will surely be some things I say that are hard for you to hear. Sometimes you may not like me, but I'm okay with that. It is more important that you are benefiting from our work together.
Q: What populations do you work with and what age groups?
A: I work with children, starting as young as age 6, teens, and adults. I use play therapy, which is a specific mode of therapy, and a variety of means to communicate with young children. I have a variety of media and board games I use when working with tweens and young adolescents.
I love working with the elderly, but I have opted out of Medicare. This means that if you are 65 or older, you would have to pay me private pay and would have to agree not to file your claim to Medicare.
I conduct individual psychotherapy and *informal assessments to help provide directions for therapy. I do *not conduct formal testing/assessment for school or court. I do not conduct marital or couples therapy. I do not work with actively using alcoholics or substance addicted individuals or those who are currently abusing a substance. If you suspect you have a substance abuse problem, you probably do, in which case you should seek an assessment and follow the recommendations of a certified substance abuse counselor.
Q: What is Play Therapy and how so you do it with my child?
A: Play Therapy is a kind of therapy used with children and, sometimes, adolescents. Although it is called "Play Therapy" it is work for the child and the therapist. In fact, play IS a child's work. Play is the means by which children express themselves and make meaning of the world. With regard to therapy, play is also the means by which children sort out their conflicts and struggles and gain mastery over them. Children's play shows how they are understanding the world and how they are feeling about it. Through analysis of the play, the therapist is able to understand the child's conflicts, needs and wishes and facilitates the child and parent understanding better, too. Play therapy takes time. Your child first must establish a trusting relationship with the therapist. Media such as art, books, therapeutic board games, and a sand tray with figures, as well as other toys and media are used.
Q: How can you be good at treating both children and adults?
A: I was trained in both and I have a lot of experience with both. My two practica were with adults. My internship was six months of each. Next, I worked exclusively with children for ten years in public mental health and in group home settings. Since starting my private practice in 2002, I have worked with adults and children both. Also, the best training to be a psychotherapist is based on sound models of human development and human behavior, which capture the entire lifecycle. That is the training that I had. My work in each area enriches the work in the other areas and working this way mirrors the develpmental life cycle found in our natural, daily lives. I have worked with all ages for more than 28 years. Although I work mostly with adults now, I enjoy working with children and teens particularly in the areas of grief and mood disorders and with those who are "internalizers."
Q: Don't you get tired of listening to people's problems?
A: No, I don't get tired of listening to people and I don't get tired of their problems. Each person's story is unique and compelling. I feel privileged and honored that people trust me with their thoughts and feelings. I don't tire of my work because it is beautiful to see people create the life they want. I don't get bored because if either one of us is off track, we talk about it. I am as interested today as I was 28 years ago. I marvel at the courage my clients demonstrate and I admire their determination to face their problems and improve their lives. My clients bring their energy and I bring mine. Our collaboration creates the energy for the therapy process in a way that is new and fresh each time.
Q: Yes, but don't you get burned out?
A: It takes a lot of work and dedication to do my self-care and prevent burn-out. Proper sleep and rest, exercise, social life, spiritual life, hobbies/fun, continuing education/training, peer consultation, and continued personal therapy are necessary pieces I maintain to take care of myself and prevent burn-out.
Q: How will I know when it is time to end therapy?
Q: Can I come back to therapy later one once I have finished?
A: You are always welcome to return to therapy in the future. I have seen many people at different points in their life in a similar way as a family physician. It is an honor and a delight to see "old" clients again!
Q: Is my information confidential?
A: Yes within certain limits. My Voice Mail, the verbal information you give, and my written records are confidential. Your record will be stored the requisite number of years (mandated by state law) and then will be destroyed. Rarely, confidential information has to be shared such as in cases where someone's behavior is a danger to self or other. Also, if you are using insurance, there will be some loss of confidentiality mainly in the form of a diagnosis which is used on the claim form. (See below under "Why Pay With Private Funds?" for more about this.)
A: As a psychologist, and not a psychiatrist, I not prescribe medication or have opinions about specific medications. However, I will conduct a complete assessment and consult with you about over-all treatment recommendations. These recommendations may or may not include a recommendation for an evaluation by a physician about the possibility of a trial of medication. I have many clients who take medication and many who do not; I do not have a bias toward or against medication. You will have ample opportunity to discuss all your treatment options with me including whether an evaluation for medication is indicated.
A: If medication is needed, you may be able to receive it from your family physician. If your case is more complex, it may be better for you to receive your medication from a psychiatrist than from a family physician. I am happy to provide needed information to your physician with your signed Release.
Please note that I do not conduct assessments for the sole purpose of helping clients obtain medication. Assessments for diagnosis and for determining the need for a medication evaluation are services I provide only to those who are currently in therapy with me.
A: I am in network with Aetna, Medcost and all BlueCross products except BlueLocal. Even if you are going out of network, you probably still have mental health benefits, although you may have a higher deductible and/or higher co-insurance payment. Going to a highly skilled psychologist, even if going out of network, may be less costly overall, in terms of time, money and energy, than going to a less skilled psychotherapist who is in network, because an accurate diagnosis, effective treatment plan, and effective interventions speed the assessment and therapy process. It is a shared responsibility between you and me to track your insurance payments and make sure your insurance is paying correctly according to the terms of your plan. Ultimately, you are responsible for your bill.
Q: Why should I pay with private funds when I have insurance?
A: There are several reasons why paying privately is preferable to using your insurance. One is that when you pay with private funds, you receive all the treatment you need and you determine when you stop treatment, rather than having an agent of your insurance company make that decision. Also, treatment is not interrupted by obstacles such as obtaining authorization to treat and claims that have been denied.
Also, when you pay for your treatment with private funds, you retain control over your confidential information rather than your PHI (Private Health Information) released to your insurance. When your diagnosis, and possibly also progress notes if requested by your insurance, are released to your insurance company, your information may be entered into the MIB (Medical Information Bureau). The MIB is a central database of medical information shared by insurance companies. The MIB retains information about patients' medical condititions and lifestyle choices, such as smoking and high-risk sports, which in turn can be used to affect your prospects for buying insurance in the future, as well as the rates you will pay.
In addition, since insurance requires that treatment be "medically necessary," I must use a medical diagnosis. That medical diagnosis follows you for life once it is entered into the MIB. There are implications for employment prospects especially for those in positions requiring security or mental health clearance and for young people who might want to enter such fields in the future. When you pay privately, you are able to receive consultation for whatever reason you choose including personal growth, coping with a stressful event or situation, marriage and family problems, and consultation regarding work related stressors without the burden of carrying a mental health diagnosis.
One of the most important reasons to pay with private funds is that it allows you to choose your provider. Perhaps the best provider for you or your child is not in your insurance network. In the long run, you will have the best outcome by basing your decision on what you or your child needs in the way of assessment and therapy, and not on who is in your insurance panel.
In addition, there is a trend, which will continue to increase, of insurance companies dictating what type of session (such as individual, but no couples/family therapy), what approach must be used for certain disorders, the use of medication for certain severe and persistent conditions, referrals to self-help groups, treatment protocols that they deem appropriate (and which might not be best for you), and limited session length and session number.
In sum, you will have much better control over the services you receive and over your Private Health Information by paying privately.
Q: What hours are you available?
A: I am available from 9am to 6pm Tuesday through Friday. My last session is at 5pm. That time slot is usually used by those in traditional business hours who cannot get away at any other hour.
Q: Do you offer a free consultation?
A: A brief telephone consultation is offered (up to 15 minutes) in order for us to answer each other's questions about your therapy goals and how well they might fit with my areas of practice, schedules, fees and payment.
Q: Do you have papers I should fill out ahead of time?
A: I have a few forms and prefer to do them at the office in case you have any questions. If you are doing Telehealth, yes, the forms will be sent near the time of your first appointment. The forms are not on the web-site.
Q: Will I like you and will you like me?
A: The best way to see how well you and I might click is to meet. If you aren't sure after the first session, you will certainly know by the end of the third session. You may not like everything I say to you, but that's okay. Good therapy requires sometimes hearing things about ourselves that are difficult to hear. If you trust the process, you will gradually increase your tolerance for hearing difficult things and will be able to work well with your therapist, even if you don't always like her. As to my liking you, there are a great many things about my clients I find to like and admire.
Q: What should I do if I have a complaint?
A: If you are unhappy for any reason with me, my clinical work, or my office policies/procedures, please bring it up in session. Please do NOT leave negative public, on-line reviews. Those cause permanent damage to my ability to offer services and could deter or discourage someone else who needs service from accessing service. Addressing your complaint with me will likely not only resolve the problem, but will likely be a good and therapeutic process for you. Don't miss that opportunity!
Q: But what if I'm nervous about calling?
A: It's okay to be nervous about calling. The only time nervousness or apprehension is truly a problem is if you let it stop you from taking your next step, which is to call me.
Be brave. You will be well rewarded! Here's the number: 704-776-6438.