Yes! Recent research suggests that the average person receiving marital therapy is significantly better off than 84% of those who don’t seek treatment, and that treatment gains are generally sustained over time. In fact, the “effect size” (a statistic that essentially says how well some method of treatment works) for marital therapy is higher than the effect size for coronary bypass surgery for angina! In other words, if you get quality marriage counseling, your marriage has a better chance of succeeding than your angina has of being treated successfully through coronary bypass surgery! There is similar research about the effectiveness of the individual therapy approaches that I use.
That said, neither I nor any other therapist can guarantee positive results. Much of it depends on what you do during the 167 hours a week you're not in counseling, whether the therapist’s techniques, values, etc. are a good fit with you, whether the therapist knows and believes in what he/she is doing, and so forth.
I strive to have therapy feel like a safe place to explore your difficulties. My clients often mention that they appreciate feeling safe and supported, yet stretched as well. Even though I have an extensive knowledge of the approaches listed below, you will feel like I am working with you rather than doing things to you. I'm a human first; a scientist second! Most of my clients say that I am good at connecting with them and helping them feel heard rather than being a stuffy, ivory-tower academic. I try to make sure that's always the case.
Reference: Shadish, W. R., & Baldwin, S. A. (2002). Meta-analysis of MFT interventions. In D. H. Sprenkle (Ed.), Effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy (pp. 339-370). Alexandria, VA: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
My Clinical Approach
Generally speaking, I come from a family systems approach to counseling. A systemic approach assumes that a person's difficulties are best understood within the context of the different "systems" they are involved in -- family, work, etc. Most problems are not "within" a person, but rather are "between" people. In other words, when looking at the big picture, what most people describe as "symptoms" often become understandable responses to difficult situations. The focus of systemic therapy is to empower those involved to change the situation they find themselves in -- a much more hopeful approach than believing that you possess some problem within you that you have to get rid of.
There are several systemic models of therapy, many of which have been shown in scientific studies to be effective. I am competent in and use most effective systemic models, and prefer to determine which approach to use after I get to know you.
Systemic approaches that I use include:
Bowen Family System Theory
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
If there's a model of therapy that you are familiar with and would like to use, please contact me to see if I am qualified to provide the approach you desire. If I'm not, chances are that I know someone who is and I can give you a referral.
What should I expect?
After our initial contact via telephone or email, the next step is to go to the "info & forms" page and complete the "informed consent" paperwork online prior to the first session. Once you've done that, you don't need to arrive early to your first session.
When you reach the office, have a seat in the waiting room. I'll be out to meet you when your session is scheduled to start. The first session typically consists primarily of you telling your (and your partner/family members, if applicable) story of why you're seeking counseling. I'll ask several questions throughout the first session to help me get a picture of your situation, but I'll mostly be listening to you. Think of it like your first visit to a medical doctor or a mechanic - they're mostly listening to what you're saying is wrong so they can help. Many people find a lot of relief even in the first session! From there, we will collaborate together on what changes need to happen to best help you. Therapy may be very active with lots of advice, homework, etc. or fairly passive while you explore various aspects of your situation. It all depends on what you and I think best suits you and your situation.
How much does it cost?
The fee for a 50-minute session is $200, with sessions being billed in 1/2 hour increments thereafter. I provide counseling on a fee-for-service basis. I do not accept insurance at this time. Some insurance companies will reimburse their clients if they submit a receipt for services received. I'd be glad to provide such a receipt and help you with any additional paperwork in this situation.
At first glance, therapy can seem expensive. Do the costs justify the potential benefits? It may help to think of the costs of therapy this way: research suggests that, although there are no guarantees, many people achieve meaningful, lasting results after 10-12 sessions of therapy. The cost for those sessions is about what you’d expect to pay for a low-end sofa/loveseat combo! So, would you rather be rid of whatever ails you, or have a new cheap couch?
How long does it last?
Though length of time in therapy varies from person to person, most of my clients complete treatment in around 8-12 sessions. There are exceptions to that, of course. Many people come in for 2-3 sessions just to get “re-centered," while others like to come in for much longer. Either way, many people start to feel better in 3-6 sessions, and can maintain positive changes on their own by 12 sessions.
Some challenges take longer than others, of course. A person that suffered severe abuse for several years may be in counseling longer than someone struggling with general life dissatisfaction, for example. And most of my clients come back every now and then over the years just for a tune-up after their main work is complete.
One thing I love about practicing in California is that most people have a pretty progressive view of their mental health. They think of their therapist like their dentist - sometimes you're there for longer, sometimes briefly, but it is a good idea to have one!