How do I know if I need therapy?
It’s hard to say with exact certainty, as only you can make that decision. Each person has a unique story, and there are a multitude of ways to apply therapy to life’s circumstances. In my experience, I have seen therapy benefit those who are in the midst of suffering, feeling stuck, missing their ability to function well, or perhaps finding themselves in unwanted cycles of thought or behavior. Therapy can also be very beneficial to those not in a period of crisis or suffering–they can focus on preventative or maintenance strategies.
In my free phone consultation, I take some time to learn more about you and the circumstances that have led you to consider therapy. I can then offer some feedback on whether I think therapy is an appropriate option for you at this time.
What is a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)? Do you only work with couples/families?
MFT refers to the type of license I have through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), and despite the name, most of the clients I work with are individuals. There are different types of master’s level clinical therapists: marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional clinical counselors. All are similar, with slightly different philosophies of conceptualization. As a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), I am trained to look at the person/issue systemically, taking social and relational context into account. As a LMFT, I have completed an accredited, qualifying master’s program, accrued well over 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and passed both the state law and ethics exam and comprehensive clinical exam. You can read more about my experience at About Jonathan.
What’s the difference between talking to you and a friend or family member?
It’s important to remember that as a licensed marriage and family therapist, I am trained in the process of change and to think systemically. While anyone can provide space to listen, empathy, and compassion, we all do so to varying degrees. I have spent countless hours studying and practicing the skills that allow people to feel heard, validated, understood, and challenged in appropriate ways, and I am able to conceptualize situations with a clinical framework. I am not afraid of any big emotions you may be experiencing, and will hold space for you to process however you need to. Because I am outside the immediate situation that may be troubling you, I can help you approach it in a new way–this distance allows me to listen without judgment/expectations, clarify your perspective, teach you new skills, and collaborate with you on strategies/goals. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. It is my hope that through the therapy process, your relationships with your family members and friends will actually be improved.
What is your stance on medication?
Medication can be a wonderful tool and may be clinically indicated. In my experience, especially in working with those with severe mental illness, I have seen medication work wonders in some cases. However, I see medication work most effectively in clients who also utilize therapy, as therapy allows them to learn and integrate new coping skills while the medication helps with alleviating symptoms. In treating my clients, I look at the whole person and take other factors into account–daily routine, nutrition, exercise, time spent outdoors, etc.
If medication is part of your treatment, I will request to work with your prescriber to coordinate your care and ensure our treatment goals are aligned. If, during the course of our treatment, I believe medication may be beneficial, I can make appropriate referrals as needed.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each client’s circumstances are unique to them and the appropriate duration of therapy depends on your goals, your commitment to the process, and the circumstances surrounding your presenting issue. Usually, after the initial intake appointment, I am able to give you an estimate of what I recommend in regard to treatment length.
What can I do to get the most out of therapy?
Therapy works best for those that are communicative, open-minded, and honest about their reactions. Whether you are excited, hesitant, or somewhere in-between, it is best for me, your therapist, to know where you stand so that I can tend to the nature of our therapy and monitor your progress. I encourage my clients not to compartmentalize what they learn in therapy; what you experience in my office is just as relevant to your “real life.” Come to therapy with the understanding that while you may not be able to change all of your circumstances, you can take responsibility for how you respond to them.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together as a couple?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. I feel this approach is best for relational issues in which both people are willing to engage in therapy. After this work, if one or both of you would like to continue individual therapy, I would most likely refer you to another therapist, so that your individual therapy would not be influenced by our sessions.
Sometimes, however, individual therapy can have a positive impact on relationships, so if one of you is interested in individual therapy with me, it is possible for you to start there as well.