Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy
If you’ve never been to therapy, there can be a lot of anxiety because you might not know what to expect. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and to not know the next step to take. You’re not alone. This FAQ should help answer some common questions and concerns.
What do I need to bring to a session?
Just yourself. Going to therapy can be very stressful. This is normal, but don’t let it get in the way of coming in. You might feel very anxious the night before or on the way in and again, this is normal. The hardest step is generally making an appointment and showing up. Our first session I try to keep pretty light and easy, you’ve got enough stress going on I don’t need to overload you further.
Who do you see as clients?
I see mostly adults and a few mature teenagers in the Denver metro area. I’ve worked with people from all walks of life including: stay-at-home-moms, nurses, pilots, call center workers, unemployed people, students, veterans, yoga instructors, martial artists, artists, bikers, and others. My office is in the DTC near I-25 and Orchard.
What are your rates?
$125 for 50 minutes – Standard session.
$175 for 90 minutes – Extended session. Trauma focused intensive therapy is slower by nature. 90 minutes is ideal for deeper work.
What are your office hours?
I see clients from 9am to 8pm Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm.
Can I swear in session?
Yes! I have had more than a few clients tell me they felt uncomfortable using occasionally very rough language when they’ve tried therapy before. If we are going to be talking about situations that caused a lot of misery in your life, “awe shucks” and “darn” don’t exactly come close to describing what you’ve have been feeling. In my social life I tend to curse like a sailor, but I’ll respect your wishes if you don’t like colorful language. I’ve heard and seen plenty of very nasty situations and occasionally very graphic details used, it does not phase me. I want you to comfortably speak from your heart when we work together. My office is an oasis for you to be yourself. There is plenty of time to be “right and proper” everywhere else. Sometimes our emotions can be really uncomfortable and we may feel ashamed. But if you continue to bury them instead of working with their intensity, you’ll stay stuck.
What is “body-oriented” therapy? Is it like massage?
No. It’s about working with your body and how your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and natural energies affect it. Touch can be involved, but only when appropriate and always with your consent and respect for your boundaries. As humans we need connection that is nourishing. Our body releases hundreds of chemicals when we have physical contact with someone else. In the presence of trauma it can freeze us and make us disconnect from our body. For victims of physical or sexual abuse, they can be profoundly disconnected and numb to their body. Restoring this disconnect can be extremely powerful yet scary. It’s therefore critical to work very gently and slowly. However the rewards can be even more worthwhile. Sometimes so much so it’s hard to imagine until it is experienced. When we work with our bodies we are working with a very ancient and powerful part of your brain. This is what must be healed first before working with the emotions and thinking parts of your brain. It’s what we call a “bottom-up” approach.
If I go to therapy, my career could be in jeopardy. Why risk it?
I do not share my client names or notes with anyone. This is between you and I. There are no outside agencies I share information with, medical or otherwise, unless you release it by your own choice. I would have to be legally subpoenaed to do otherwise. The one exception I have is my supervisor, and even then those details are confidential and also not shared with other sources. I am very aware that there are several careers that practically forbid its workers from getting help. They will not find out from me unless I’m court-ordered to do so.
How do I pay for this?
I accept cash, checks, and most credit cards. Your insurance may be able to help you out with the cost. I do not take insurance directly, but if you can see out-of-network therapists you can probably get reimbursed. I can provide a bill to you that can be submitted to your insurance company that should have what they need. But it is up to you to know what your specific benefits are. If you have a health savings account (HSA) that functions as a credit card, that generally works too.
Why don’t you take insurance directly?
I have chosen not to for multiple reasons. To start with, I would have to agree to operate under their policy on what treatments I am allowed to use for you. This is a decision that should be made between us, not them. I would also have to file reports with them discussing your treatment, how well you are progressing, and possibly other details that I do not feel they have any right to know about. These reports may be shared with any number of employees on their end. Whether or not they to keep their information private is beside the point, as I don’t think they should be privy to any information about you whatsoever. Not only that, but data breaches and identity theft happen from time to time with any company.
Also in this era of managed care, I have met many therapists who have had to reduce their rates and have less and less compensation for their efforts due to what the insurance companies dictate. I even know of one therapist who worked with a client for 6 months and when they received their check for all the weekly sessions done over that time, the therapist was paid $0 dollars!! Insurance companies have an interest in paying as little as possible and many routinely look for loopholes to exploit. I would also have to give you a diagnosis to treat you, which can have a way of following a person’s resume around for long after they have left my office. To me, it is not worth the effort and I refuse to deal with them on these principles.
Isn’t therapy just about making me cry or feel bad about things?
Not really. While we will explore a full range of emotions, I do not believe focusing just on the negatives is what good therapy is all about. It is just as important to work with the positive things and reinforcing the good as it is to heal the bad. With that said, tears in a therapy office and not shameful and often a sign of a deep release of emotional pain being purged from the body. To not allow yourself to grieve is to keep yourself stuck.
How long is therapy supposed to go on for?
This depends on a lot of things. I don’t like to give specific time frames because if we are unable to meet a deadline that can make you feel defeated all over again. Sometimes a single incident trauma can be healed in a few sessions. For others that struggle with other severe problems it can be a lot longer. It’s important to not rush therapy because that can often just slow it down further. I will try to be sensitive to the financial impact therapy has for you.
How often should I have a session?
Generally once a week, especially when we are starting out, is best. This lets me get a feel for how your life is trending and if there are any patterns we should be aware of. I do see many clients every other week, and a few every month or so when they want to just check in from time to time. The more often you show up and the more willing you are to explore things the quicker it will go, and the more money you will save in the long run. What you don’t want to do is keep starting and stopping or only coming in when there is an emergency. Therapy requires and consistent effort that spans longer than a handful of sessions. I require clients to commit to coming in every other week at the absolute minimum.
Isn’t all therapy just talk? How is that supposed to help?
While we will mostly talk during our time together, there is a lot that is going on in our brains and bodies that we will work with. I work with your nervous system, your thinking brain (neocortex), your emotional mind (limbic system), and your primal fight/flight/freeze part of the brain (brain stem). Just engaging our thinking brain can help but in my experience it will not last if that’s all we do. You can visit the EMDR or Somatic Experiencing links for more.
Why are so many therapists interested in how my Mom or Dad did as a parent?
Our earliest life experiences help shape us. As children we learn a lot from what we observe; be it good or bad. It’s like building a house with a bad foundation, even if the house is well built and repaired a lot, if that foundation is broken there will be problems later on. I’m not really interested in making you change your mind about your parents or other caregivers; which can include brothers and sisters or even babysitters. I ask about their actions and behaviors because it can tell quite a lot about what’s going on for you and how you see and interact with the world. The goal is to see how things are affecting you now and what we can do about it.
What are your qualifications? How do I know if you can help?
I have my master’s degree in psychology, and I’ve worked at multiple hospitals with people on 72 hour holds for depression, suicide attempts, or detoxing from drugs. I’ve also worked in maximum security youth correctional facilities with teens who have made some bad choices in life. I’ve studied the mind and how we learn and ways to empower you and heal for most of my life. I’ve also completed 2 years post-graduate work with the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute on various therapeutic methods for healing. I have also worked with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute to help coordinate training for other therapists in Somatic Experiencing therapy. I also received my EMDR training by an approved EMDRIA course on it. EMDR is a great therapy that looks simple on the outside, but has a lot of critical nuances that must be considered to ensure it is safe and effective.
Prior to all this, I worked as a pilot which made me very familiar with how the real working world is, and how to train someone from no experience to being able to fly airplanes. I know the pressures of high intensity jobs that require near perfection in all ways. I also know the pain of working in an unstable job market and working for some less-than-great people or customers, and that in and of itself can be very damaging to the strongest of people. I’ve also done a lot of work on myself with my own therapists. To me, any therapist should be engaged in working with themselves and their own demons if they are going to help others with theirs.
I have direct experience with depression, anxiety, trauma, and bipolar II prior to becoming a therapist. These are the conditions I have chosen to specialize in treating. You can visit About Steve for more.
Can you help me with medication?
No. I do not, and cannot, prescribe any drugs of any kind. I am deeply troubled by how often antidepressants are prescribed. And while I know many people need them to function, I believe they should be used in conjunction with therapy to help you overcome your troubles. For some people this may not even be possible to get off of a prescribed medication and if that is the case, that’s fine. My hope for you is to lessen the pains and increase awareness of what’s at the core. I can coordinate with other healthcare practitioners to try to work with them so we can serve you better.
What are your thoughts on holistic and natural cures?
I do prefer them. If you have something that’s producing good results for you then that’s great. Unfortunately there are a lot of practitioners that are either selling snake-oil, or don’t really know what they are doing. But there are some very good ones too. There are plenty of herbs and supplements that are very powerful when you get them from a reliable source. Unfortunately many of the stores that sell them fall short on the quality of the supplements. Keep in mind that they sometimes can interact with each other and may have unforeseen side effects. To further complicate things, our bodies can all be different to some degree so what works for one person may not for another. So check with a qualified dietitian or nutritionist, don’t rely on what you read on the Internet or hear from Facebook feeds. Remember, arsenic is also natural and comes out of the ground.
Isn’t all therapy the same?
Not by a long shot. There are tons of different methods out there to pick from, and what works for one person might not for another. I use EMDR and Somatic Experiencing as two of my primary therapies because I’ve personally experienced them work wonders for me, and for my clients. But in the end, they are tools, and are only as good as the person using them and how well the client is responding to them. The best way to know is to come in and see for yourself. If we both decide we are a good match for each other we can start the work. If not, then I may be able to find a referral for you. I do not necessarily take every client that comes through my doors, but for the most part I would rather work with people than not work with them.
When does therapy end?
You are free to terminate when you want. I may encourage you to stick with it, especially if it’s because we’ve hit on something intense. Although I can tell when that’s happening and I’ll back off if you want me to. Therapy works best when we work together. If you’ve gotten what you need from therapy and don’t want any more we can end. If we meet an impasse and no progress in being made for awhile we might want to discuss ending. While some plateaus do happen, we should not get stuck there. Finally if our payment agreement is not lived up to, I may terminate. As always, if you have questions feel free to ask.
Do you work with addictions?
Not directly. I will work with the traumas that are likely driving the behavior, but I do require my clients to be clean from illegal drug use, especially meth, for at least 3 months. The exceptions to this are marijuana and MDMA. Since I use mind body techniques for therapy, if you are actively using or have only been clean for a short time then therapy may either not work or be severely handicapped. EMDR has been shown to help reduce addictive behavior if you’re wanting to be free from the impulses driving addiction.
I’m paying for my son’s/daughter’s/significant others’ therapy, don’t I have a right to know what you are discussing?
This is a good question, and in most cases completely valid and fair. However, not in this case. Please understand that a lot of things will be discussed, some of which might not always paint you as the parent or guardian in a great light. This is done so that we can get to the heart of the issue and sometimes our emotions are not fair. It is imperative that your loved one has a safe place where they can discuss things of any nature. If I share that with others, that trust is violated and nearly impossible to get back. The exceptions to this are when there is a life in danger, or child/elder abuse is going on, or there is a threat to self. Then I have to by law report it. I do work with a supervisor and we will discuss how best to treat my clients, but that is guarded with the same level of confidentiality as our sessions are. The other exception is if the client getting treatment signs a release.
Steve, isn’t it hard to keep things private with Facebook, the Internet, and how things are these days?
It is. I will not have clients be friends with my personal account on Facebook. Although I would love for you to follow my practice, Inner Sight Colorado. I will do what I can to ensure privacy. Not everyone on there who follows it are clients. Some of them might be, but I’m not going to reveal what kind of relationship we have there. If we by chance run into one another in public, I will not initiate any contact with you because I do not want any personal information to get out accidentally. Nor do I want to put you in a position where someone you are with asks you, “who is that?” because it could put you in an awkward situation. But if you want to come over and say hi, I certainly won’t brush you off. I just won’t start the conversation. Finally, I tend to keep emails and texts short and to the point. Phones can be lost, or other people can see what gets put out on them so I try to keep most interactions in person or on the phone during an actual conversation. If you want me to talk to anyone about our sessions, I will have you sign a release to do so.
What is your stance on medical marijuana?
This is a complex subject. There is a difference between use and abuse. Anything can be abused when overused or used as an escape from problems. After all, a person can become addicted to cheeseburgers as a coping method and our diet has a powerful affect on us in many ways. There is numerous scientific evidence of the benefits of marijuana, and not just for physical pain. It is not physically addictive, however it can be psychologically addictive. With Colorado being a state that has legalized it for recreational use it is time for our society to not automatically demonize it, but that doesn’t mean there are not down sides to using it either. Some strains of marijuana can increase anxiety and paranoia and if that is something you struggle with, it may be important to reconsider using it, reducing intake, or finding a more suitable strain. Typically Sativa strains are more prone to inducing these feelings than Indicas, however it can still vary from person to person and day to day.
For many people that I have known marijuana has been a life-saving alternative to other drugs and in those cases saying no their use is simply not an option. Also making them illegal will not remove access to it. What that said, do not come to sessions intoxicated! You have to be lucid and functional enough for therapy to work. And no, I cannot and will not help you get a red card for becoming a medical marijuana patient. You will have to get an evaluation from an approved Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional that can approve that. I will not turn away clients that have chosen to use it responsibly. If the use is excessive however, then we will need to discuss the best way to move forward with therapy. Driving under the influence of it while going to therapy is illegal and that would lead to an immediate termination of therapy without refund.
Why do therapists charge for missed sessions? If I make an appointment and don’t show up why should I get charged for something I did not use?
Therapy can often be something you don’t want to go to. You are paying for my time to be present and help you overcome the problems. It is very common for a person’s anxiety to get the better of them and not come in. While it is understandable, you cannot heal if you don’t come in. I take this work very seriously and so should you. In some cases, if the problems are severe enough I may have to be worried about if you’ve harmed yourself and have to take action. Therefore, it is industry standard to have a cancellation policy in place. You can cancel 24 hours in advance without being charged. Understand too that some clients very badly need help and we may have difficulty and have to make sacrifices to be able to do this work. If a client makes an appointment and then no shows, that is time I may have been able to give to someone who desperately needs it. If you routinely no show, I may cancel our working relationship. Just keep me in the loop and this should not be an issue. 😉