Psychotherapy and Change
My view of psychotherapy is that each client has strengths as well as challenges. Each client is unique, within a context that is also unique. The goal of psychotherapy is to engage in change. Psychotherapy is a collaborative process where the therapist accompanies the client for a time on her or his life path. The therapist may provide support, feedback, and encouragement, but it is you, the client, who must take action. Ultimately you are the one who decides what changes need to occur, and engages in the process of change. This is why it can be said that much of the work of therapy occurs outside the therapy session.
It is possible to make external, behavioral changes that may last for a time. However, when there is understanding and internal transformation, the changes in behavior may occur more easily and may be easier to maintain. This is why I often provide information to you as much as possible, so that you can make knowledgeable choices.
Although psychotherapy is a collaborative process, it is not appropriate to think of your therapist as someone you pay to take care of you. A caring relationship usually does develop; but in order to help you engage in change, your therapist may need to challenge or confront you; and you should not be a passive observer in the therapy process. Your theerapist may be able to help you seek resources outside of therapy but you should be making your own phone calls and asking questions for the information you may need from those resources.
Successful psychotherapy requires your active participation. You must be willing to try new behaviors, challenge old ways of thinking, and/or explore alternative ways of interacting with others. For this reason, your active engagement must occur outside as well as during the therapy session. Ideally, your goal is to enhance wellness through revitalized or improved knowledge, skills, and abilities, by challenging obstacles or situations you may be facing. If you are not willing to self-reflect and work toward change, psychotherapy may not be appropriate for you at this time.
If you experiencing a crisis, you may call 911; or you may contact the EMPACT 24-hour crisis hotline at (480) 784-1500, or the Crisis Response Network at (602) 222-9444. You may also contact Banner Behavioral Health at (602) 254-4357 for intensive outpatient programs or for assistance in receiving inpatient services. Please let me know if you do contact a crisis service.
If you find that you are constantly in need of crisis services, individual outpatient psychotherapy may not be appropriate for you. You may be better served by attending an intensive outpatient program, or by utilizing inpatient services.
Psychotherapy and Counseling
Many people tend to use the terms psychotherapy and counseling interchangeably, and there is some overlap in their definitions. However, in recent discussion with colleagues, it was noted that psychotherapy, the term used in the billing code, emphasizes change. Counseling may simply be supportive counseling, which can sometimes be helpful, but may not be considered reimbursable by your insurance provider. This is why some people are “in therapy” for years–because they may be doing counseling, not psychotherapy. It is more typical and appropriate for people to participate in therapy for a time and finish after achieving goals. They may return to therapy over time when confronted with new concerns, instead of attending continuously over long periods.
As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medication. I only work with adults, and cannot provide family therapy that includes children or adolescents. At this time I do provide couples therapy; although I do include family members in treatment based on a client’s request. Currently I do not do psychological testing. I do not work in addictions, including but not limited to substance abuse and dependence. If you are using some kind of substance or behavior most days, you may benefit from working with someone else, who is comfortable with the impact this has on psychotherapy. My practice is limited to clients residing in the state of Arizona. I do not work with individuals whose symptoms are so severe that they require extensive consultation and/or monitoring outside the therapy session. If I discover that your symptoms are beyond the scope of my practice, I will help you find referrals in order for you to improve.
If you have recently applied, or plan to apply for disability in the next 6 months, you should contact your insurance panel for another provider. If you have been hospitalized for mental health reasons, attended court-ordered treatment or evaluation, exhibited any harmful behaviors toward yourself or others, or struggled with substance or alcohol use or other addictions within the last 3 years, you should contact your insurance panel for another provider, as these issues are more likely beyond the scope of my practice.
If you seek therapy for the explicit purpose of using your records for any legal proceedings, please be aware that this may impact progress in treatment. I will not willingly work with someone whose motivation and improvement in therapy may be influenced by the potential outcome of legal proceedings (or disability or other claims).