Therapy FAQ

What is therapy?

Therapy is a process between a professional and a client — an individual, couple, family or group — to assist them to enhance their sense of psychological health.  The technique and approach vary according to the client’s concerns and the therapist’s expertise.

How can therapy help?

Most people seek help when their usual way of handling problems stops working. Therapy helps us discover the most fundamental patterns that form our experience.  By discovering those patterns and experiencing them with self-conscious awareness, we progressively change to become more coherent, grounded, resilient and autonomous human beings.

I really don’t feel that bad. Should I see a therapist?

Therapy is not just for those times when you feel bad.  You may have a sense that life could be better, or that you would like to continue your personal growth with support from a professional.

How can I find a good therapist?

Word of mouth is a great starting place, so ask for recommendations from friends who have had a good experience or from a professional you respect. If you search the web, rely more heavily on respected websites like these: Psychology Today, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (SETI).

How will I know if we are a good match?

Pay attention to how it feels to be with the therapist. Tell a bit about yourself and why you are there.  Ask about their training and experience, how they would propose working, and whether they feel their expertise is a good match for your initial needs.  Tell them you are shopping around and ask how much they charge.  Listen.  Do you have a sense of trust and confidence?  If so, you may be a good match.

Should I choose a male or female therapist?

This depends on a number of things: you, what you want to work on and the trust factor.  Choose the one with whom you would feel most comfortable.

What is the most important element in choosing a therapist?

Do you feel hopeful when you meet them?   Do you get that gut feeling that says this could work despite being nervous?  Do you have a sense that you could feel safe? Can you imagine yourself opening up with them and have confidence that they can help you?

Are you afraid of starting therapy?

Good, you are in touch with your fear. A common fear is that we will be judged for our beliefs about all of the horrible things we have done, feelings we feel or thoughts we have. An experienced therapist will not go beyond your level of comfort.  They will explain the process in the beginning and as you go on.  You may temporarily feel bad; after all you are in therapy to have a better life.

Will this time in therapy be different from the last time?

Most of our clients were referred by others who were also previously in therapy and now find themselves making significant change.  As time passes, we change and when we are motivated, we approach our personal growth through fresh eyes.

What happens during the first session?

The initial visit is for you and your therapist to get to know each other and decide how to proceed.   In brief, the first 15 minutes are about introductions and practice policies (fees, appointments, missing sessions and confidentiality). Talk about what has brought you to therapy and ask how the therapist might work.  At this time, it is up to you to determine if you believe this person can be of help to you.

What should I do if I am not happy with my therapist?

If you are not happy with your therapist, it is very important to make your feelings part of the therapeutic process. Therapists are trained to work with difficult feelings, including anger.  If you are not happy with your progress, it would be beneficial for you to examine the issue in therapy.  You can ask for referrals if you continue to be unsatisfied.  Good therapy is often less pleasant than bad therapy.

How do I change my therapist?

If you have serious doubts about your current therapist, let them know that you will not be returning. Most therapists will respond in a professional manner and offer to give you a referral.  Some therapists may ask why you are leaving, and it is best if you answer honestly or simply state that you prefer not to stay.

How will I know when it’s time to stop?

Clients generally sense that they feel satisfied with their progress. You will notice you have new energy, interest and enthusiasm about other aspects of your life – as well as the confidence to tackle new challenges on your own.  You and your therapist will decide how to end.

How can I get the most out of therapy?

You are hiring your therapist to help you understand your patterns and internal conflicts.   It is important to be as honest as possible with yourself and your therapist. Take some time after the session to review what happened. Pay attention between sessions. Let your therapist know about any patterns you notice, especially anything out of the ordinary. Write things down and take them to the session if you need to.  Therapy is a partnership. It is more effective when you are an active partner.

How long is each session?

We mostly practice within a traditional 50-minute session, but some of our faculty have longer regular sessions.  Some sessions can run longer when arranged in advance.  Of course there are established time boundaries and they are set between you and your therapist.

How often will I see my therapist?

Many therapists offer weekly sessions, however this can vary depending on the type of therapy and your own personal needs.  Successful therapy also depends on maintaining the momentum of the work. Most clients find weekly sessions the most productive. Others may need more frequent sessions, and some can only tolerate less frequent sessions.

What should I do if I am in crisis?

If you feel that you are a danger to yourself or others, dial 911 or ask a family member or friend to take you to the nearest emergency room. Once you meet with your therapist, you will have their phone number and it is perfectly okay to call between sessions.

How long will I be in therapy?

This depends on you and what you want for yourself from therapy.  No one can predict how long anyone will be in therapy.

Can I see my current therapist and someone at the Insight Center?

That depends on your reasons for seeking additional help.  On occasion we receive referrals from other therapists who would like us to work in conjunction with them.  Occasionally we are asked to offer second opinions. We encourage you to air your concern or dissatisfaction with your current therapist before adding or changing if possible.

What if I need medication?

We can refer you to psychiatrists in the community who can evaluate you for medication and prescribe it if needed.  You may also ask your internist to give you a referral to a psychiatrist.  We do not prescribe medication.

What are your fees and do you have a sliding scale?

Our full fees range from $175 to $250 for individual and couples sessions and up to $500 for longer couples and family sessions.  Some of us offer a sliding scale to students or offer special consideration for those who cannot afford our regular fee. Discussing the fee is part of the first session and will be reviewed periodically through the therapy.

Do you accept insurance?

Our psychotherapy faculty does not accept insurance, but we do create super-bills for our clients to submit to their insurance company for reimbursement.

What happens if I can’t make my session?

Your appointment is reserved exclusively for you. For no-shows or same-day cancellations, you may be charged for the session, payable at the next session. We recognize that real emergencies do happen and under those circumstances you may not be charged. Each of our psychotherapy faculty has their own cancellation policy.

Will I feel better right away?

Some people feel an immediate sense of relief when they begin therapy. Others may feel more anxious or distressed when they start because they begin to pay attention to difficult feelings that they may have previously ignored. In this situation you may initially feel worse until you start to feel better. It’s always best to share with the therapist any concerns you have about how you are reacting to the sessions.

Do you provide therapy in other languages?

Yes.  Juliet Soopikian is fluent in Farsi.

May I bring a friend or family member to my initial session?

Friends, partners, spouses and family members who are not part of the therapy may accompany you to the door for the initial session.

How is my privacy protected?

We cannot acknowledge our therapeutic relationship with any patient without their written consent.  Information about you will not be disclosed without your written consent, except under the legally mandated exceptions to the client/therapist privilege.

What about my file? What happens when I stop therapy?

All information and records obtained in the course of your therapy are held in strict confidence and privacy.  It is general practice to keep the records for a minimum of seven years.  Records or information about you will not be disclosed to any person without your written consent, except under legally mandated exceptions to the client/therapist privilege.