Frequently Asked Questions
These are questions I am often asked. I have put them all in one place to make things easier. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call or email me.
Q: WHAT IS MY SPECIALTY?
I specialize in Solution-Focused Therapy. This means that together we will focus on helping you find the strength, hope, resilience, and resources you need to move forward into a better life than you have now. In addition, I utilize elements of Narrative and Family Systems Therapies to help people modify their internal beliefs about their story/narrative, and the agreements they have made with themselves about who they are, what matters, what they can/can't or will/won't do, and what they truly want and deserve. Helping people improve their self-esteem/self-confidence is often at the core of the work I do.
I can help with relationships, depression, anxiety, adjustment, stress-management and coping with adversity and life challenges. I help individuals, couples, and families work on themselves and their relationships, as well as on divorce/relationship recovery for both men and women. I also work with stable, older adolescents (my Master's thesis: "Resilience In Adolescents Following Parental Divorce Or Separation"). For more information on my specializations, please refer to the menu at the top of the screen. To find out if I can help you with something not mentioned here, please contact me and ask me. If I cannot help, I will do my best to find you someone who can.
Q: DO I treat children or Teenagers?
Developmentally, adolescence is defined as having three distinct phases: early adolescence (ages 10-14), middle adolescence (15-17), and late adolescence/young adulthood (18-24) (basic information about these stages can be found here, on the AMCHP website). I typically work with stable, older adolescents (18+), who are not abusing drugs or alcohol. Children old enough to participate constructively are welcome in family therapy, where everyone attends sessions and participates.
Q: AM I AN ALLY?
Yes! I am LGBTQ-friendly and a vocal equal-rights ally. I have extensive experience working with the LGBTQ population in Los Angeles in both individual and group therapy settings. I welcome people of all orientations in my practice.
Q: WHERE IS MY OFFICE LOCATED?
I see clients in Encino, California (on Ventura Blvd near White Oak) at the Change Within Reach counseling center. We are located in a modern medical/dental professional building, with free parking in our private lot. A few pictures of our offices:
Q: IS WHAT WE TALK ABOUT IN THERAPY CONFIDENTIAL?
Confidentiality is a key part of therapy, and your privacy is extremely important to me. Except under the circumstances described below, or where the inclusion of others is absolutely necessary, what we discuss in therapy is strictly confidential. Exceptions to this include:
1) California law requires me to report suspected past or present abuse of children, elders, or dependent adults to the appropriate authorities. This includes sexual, physical, emotional, and financial abuse and neglect.
2) California law requires me to act to protect the well-being of my clients and other entities if I have reason to suspect the client or another person(s), or their property is in danger.
This and additional, related information regarding confidentiality is covered in the intake paperwork. Please give me a call if you have questions about this.
Q; Will therapy help me?
Therapy can be extremely beneficial. Each person has their own reasons for going, and a unique experience in therapy. Those who are willing to enter into the process with an open mind about beliefs and assumptions, and a willingness to grow can benefit tremendously. Perhaps the best answer to this question is: you will get out of therapy what you put into it. Your mind is like a muscle: if you go to the gym and work on your muscles, they will grow and change, and you will get stronger. Therapy is like a workout for your mind--if you work on it, it too can grow in terms of understanding and ability. René Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am". What you think and do determines how you feel (and the reverse can be equally true). Therapy can help you change negative or harmful thought patterns and replace beliefs that hold you back with ones that let you grow and flourish.
Q: Can I bring a friend or family member with me into therapy?
This is can be beneficial in certain circumstances, and should be discussed with your therapist in advance so the dynamics, risks, and confidentiality concerns can be addressed. If you wish to bring someone in with you, please let me know at least one or two sessions in advance. Due to legal/confidentiality issues inherent with bringing someone into session with you, there are no exceptions to this policy.
Q: I am struggling with substance abuse. Can you help me?
I am here to help, but I cannot see you if you are actively drinking or using, or are under the influence at the time of your session. Drunk therapy is like drunk driving: you may harm yourself or others and you might not remember it. Once you have truly stopped drinking/using we can work together to help you set and accomplish new goals. You must be sober to attend therapy, and I have firm policies regarding this--please call if you have additional questions.
Q: Can we text or communicate On social media?
Due to the nature of social media and concerns regarding safety and confidentiality, the answer to this is unfortunately a firm no. Please call or email me instead. I must also ask that you refrain from including therapy-specific and/or personal content in email or voicemail. Social media is not as private as you might think--everything you say, share, or post on social media, including private messages, may live in perpetuity on a server somewhere, and be accessible to others. Please use discretion on the internet, in social media, and with text, messaging, or other communication platforms or applications. This also includes sites like Yelp, Facebook, NextDoor, LinkedIn, etc.; therapists are not allowed to acknowledge or respond to posts from current or previous clients on social media sites due to confidentiality concerns, and we are not allowed to solicit reviews, testimonials, or ratings in any public forum. Out of concern and respect for you and your privacy, I respectfully ask that you refrain from using any such media in this manner, or to communicate with me. Please use email and telephone (preferred) only. Rescheduling or cancelling appointments should always be done via telephone call.
Q: What is the difference between a therapist and a Life Coach?
There are important differences between psychotherapists and life coaches, including requirements for education, accountability, and regulation. In California, a psychotherapist/counselor will always have two degrees, including a bachelor's degree (hopefully in psychology), and a postgraduate degree from an accredited graduate school (I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology from CLU, and a master's degree in Psychology from PGI). California's rigorous curriculum requirements ensure a California Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) has a master's-level understanding of psychology and psychotherapy, and has studied and applied the science behind psychotherapy treatment in their field. Becoming an MFT in California typically requires 8 to 13 years of education and training: 6-7 years of undergraduate and postgraduate education, plus 2-6 years of pre-licensed work in the field. A California MFT must complete 3,000 hours of field work before they can take the state's clinical licensing exam. They must also pass a separate MFT Law and Ethics exam during their first year of field work. A California MFT is credentialed and regulated by the state's Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), is bound by their profession's code of ethics, and is legally required to honor client confidentiality and privilege. The above applies to all masters-level MFT psychotherapists in California. (I am a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, #87443.)
None of the above applies to life coaches.
Anyone can call themselves a life coach. There are no laws or government agencies regulating life coaches in California. Life coaches are not legally required to meet any standards for education, skill, training, care, ethics, confidentiality, or accountability. A life coach may possess a "certification" from a training company, but there is no legal regulation/oversight of such training companies in California. A life coach need not attend college, and could even be a convicted felon or sex offender--there are no laws preventing this. To put this in perspective, had he been paroled, Charles Manson could have called himself a life coach, printed business cards, and seen clients.
Life coaches are not legally required to maintain confidentiality for anything you tell them, and are not bound by a legally-enforceable professional code of ethics. In California, an individual without California state-issued psychotherapist or other suitable credentials in good standing is forbidden by law from providing psychotherapy/counseling services.
It is important to note there are qualified psychotherapists who also provide excellent life, professional, wellness, or executive coaching services. There are also excellent life and wellness coaches out there who are not licensed mental health professionals. A good, ethical life coach will not attempt to engage in "psychotherapy" or "counseling" with their clients. Think of a life coach the way you would a mentor, soccer coach, personal trainer, or a piano teacher: their job is to teach you how to do something specific, such as get that promotion, learn to be a better manager/leader, or perform at a higher level in your field.
This important question requires a detailed explanation. I hope it clarifies things. If there are additional questions I can address for you, please feel free to call or email me.