UPDATE: As of 10/1/17, I am currently unable to take on any new clients. I anticipate reopening my practice for new consultations sometime in the first half of 2018.
Psychotherapy. Counseling. Talk therapy.
All different ways to describe the process where through talking and listening, real and meaningful changes occur. How does it work? When we learn something new, our brains change. When we do something new, our brains change. Our mind has a natural tendency to want to integrate these changes. When we learn something authentic and meaningful, and do new things that are positive, we grow healthier.
In my practice a typical appointment involves a directed conversation, by both of us. It’s a collaborative process where we both take turns talking and listening. I believe that the process of change starts with relevant insight and so making observations or providing knowledge in the form of some brief teaching is likely to occur. I also have a deliberate style where I don’t like the process to be mysterious. I’ll often share my thoughts and intentions. Therapy is also meant to be more than supportive, but transformative – so we’ll also focus on maintaining healthy motivation, learning and implementing useful strategies, and work to do outside of sessions. Because that’s where it matters – changes in the real world.
The goals in this learning and healing process are consistent with our universal human needs – more autonomy, more belonging, more competency.
Seeing the Whole Picture, Not Just Getting the Right Diagnosis
Part of the initial evaluation is to get to know you well enough to be able to find the most accurate way to describe the challenges you are presently dealing with. Sometimes part of this description is consistent with a known Psychiatric condition, such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, or Schizophrenia. These diagnoses can be helpful to make sense of the changes in your mind, body, and behavior that have occurred, and they can guide us towards the most effective strategies to help resolve these symptoms as quickly and safely as possible. Sometimes, the difficulty is that these very same diagnoses are limits to getting the best help you need – misdiagnosis, stigma, or being seen as sick or disabled. These are all potential problems that prevent a person from accessing the full range of help and support that can really make a difference not just in feeling better, but actually becoming healthy. So my approach goes beyond diagnosis.
When I make an initial assessment, I try and get to know as much as I can about you – who you are, what’s your life like, what are your strengths, what’s been challenging, and why you are seeking help now? Even if there is a diagnosis that best explains some of the recent problems, my overall impression is shaped by looking through the lens of who you are as a person as well as the context of your life. This includes things that therapists as a field have been poor to recognize – racial/cultural identity, spiritual beliefs and practices, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sometimes what happens is that the problems aren’t best described by a diagnosis at all, and are more a reflection of being on the unhealthy part of the spectrum of wellbeing. This can be due to internal or external factors, or a combination of both. In turn, the strategies we come up with are geared towards optimizing all aspects of your health and wellbeing, not just focused on the symptoms of a diagnosis.
How About Medication?
As a UCLA trained Psychiatrist, I am able to prescribe and monitor the use of medications. If medication use is helpful, and in some cases it will be essential, we may spend a portion of a session talking about medication choices, effects (both positive and negative), and changes that we can make.
In my practice, medication is never the only intervention.
It is always used in conjunction with therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often and how long would I need to be seen?
A: Overall, my goal is for all people in my practice to reach a level of healing and healthiness so that the need to be seen is minimized to a periodic follow up. However, in the beginning, the frequency of appointments should be dictated by the needs. In most cases, after the initial evaluation, the first few sessions occur every one to two weeks.
Q: Can I use my insurance?
A: I don’t take insurance but if you have a PPO plan, you may be able to submit your own claims to your insurance provider. I will provide to you a Superbill with the relevant information about your visits, but I do not work with insurance plans directly. If medication is prescribed, they are are typically covered by your plan.
Q: Why don’t you take my health insurance?
A: The short answer is that through insurance plans, Psychiatrists are not-so-subtly incentivized to have short, medication focused visits as they are poorly reimbursed for therapy-focused interventions. I spent enough years in these types of systems that reinforce this medical model of treatment, and I just couldn’t keep doing it.
In order for me to provide the care that I believe to be the most effective and provide the best possible outcomes, I’ve chosen to focus on healthiness rather than illness, and personal change through therapy as the foundation of the help I provide. Through the successes in my practice, I’ve come to believe that this broader approach is more effective and essential for long-term health and wellbeing.
Q: Why should I consider seeing you instead of a provider in my insurance network?
A: I believe that the type of “health” care that I provide is worth the investment. Most mental health treatments aim and settle for “no longer sick.” You may have already experienced this in the past. My goal is true healthiness, with dividends returned to you in the form of real healing, personal growth, and wellbeing.
Q: How is your approach different?
A: Read these examples of my Mental Healthiness philosophy and the research supported strategies applied to:
Schizophrenia – focusing on personal growth, connectedness, and living a meaningful life
Bipolar Disorder – working actively with the influential relationships around you
Depression – restoring belief in self-competency, the positive influence of relationships and connection
Q: I already have a therapist. Can I see you for medication management only?
A: If this is the type of additional help you are seeking, then I’m not the person you are looking for. As mentioned above, my approach is primarily psychotherapy based, with medication managment in a supportive role as needed. If you already have a therapist that you enjoy working working with, I would encourage you to seek a complementary Psychiatrist that focuses primarily on medication management.