Where is your office located?
My office is in Olde Town Arvada.
5738 Olde Wadsworth BoulevardArvada, Co 80002
I am one of several therapists in the Town Square Professional Building. It has a green awning out front, and my name is on the front door. The building is next to the big square where there is a fountain in the summer and across from the German bakery.
Where do I park?
I’ve never done this – how do I get started?
Do I check in or knock on your door when I get there?
What if you’re not the right therapist for me?
Professionally it is just not satisfying for me to try to help people with things that I am not good at. Personally, it’s just not fun. Periodically we will also review our progress. If things are not working, we’ll find someone else for you to talk to.
What information will you need from me at first?
What if I don’t know what to say?
What is the first session like?
How often do I come in to see you?
For about half of people, then we taper off to every two weeks for a while, then every month, etc. We either resolve things along the way and agree to end sessions, or, if ongoing therapy is helpful to you, then we find a frequency that works best for you.
Everything is individually tailored to your experience. We are all different and unique and no “one size fits all.”
Can I get in to see you tomorrow?
That’s very possible, if your schedule is flexible. Generally I can see new clients within 2-3 business days (depending on your schedule). You may have called other clinics who have a long waiting list. There are three main reasons for this. 1) They charge less. I charge more, so have fewer clients. I’m ok with that. 2) I also don’t like to see more than 20 clients per week. Therapy is amazing and rewarding and I love what I do, but I put my heart and soul into it and that takes a lot of energy. I need time to recharge. However, because I purposefully schedule fewer clients, I usually can make time for new clients. 3) I do see people long term, but 80% of my work is short term, goal oriented. We solve problems, help you feel better, improve your life and you move on without me. I always tell new clients, “my goal is to put myself out of business”. Of course, people return to therapy from time to time and that is ok, but in general I see people 8 – 15 times and then they are done. My plan is never to see you every week for 4 years (although it happens, occasionally).
If you go to my online scheduler and can’t find an appointment that fits for you soon enough, give me a call, sometimes I can move my schedule around…
Does the building have Disability parking?
There are no stairs, and there is a ramp at the back door. The doors are not automatic however; so let me know ahead of time, and I will meet you at the door if you need assistance. There is one parking space for people with disabilities at the back of the building. All other parking in the back parking lot is for clinicians only.
How long does this therapy process last, how many sessions?
We will create goals, review goals, and it is always up to you how long you stay. Some see me for 8 or 10 sessions on and off when needed. Some people see me every two weeks, or once a month for ongoing support. Some people see me 23 times and then never come back.
Do you take insurance?
I used to, for many years. I don’t anymore.
I began to feel the insurance industry did not have your best interests in mind including: privacy concerns, higher deductibles, intrusive audits, time-consuming billing that took energy and time, demands to provide shorter therapy sessions. I spent a lot of time and energy each week focused on issues that had nothing to do with the work that I’m good at and enjoy. It made it harder to have the energy to put toward giving people quallity services and the energy that my clients deserve.
Another note: reimbursement rates for counselors have not gone up for providers for decades. One or two insurers have made minimal increases here or there, but not significantly. In fact, serveral of the insurance companies were paying me less than I made in 2001 when I started my first private practce. Working more and more hours as the only way to get a raise is not a long term solution.
Very importantly: I began to realize that the people who got the most out of therapy were the people who paid out of pocket. People feel better, change more quickly, and find the process more fulfilling when they are invested in it.
Do you have a “sliding scale”?
The short answer is no. I have found that by charging my full fee, people are more motivated and get more out of the process. Also, I find it is healthier personally to contribute to the community in other ways. Imagine if you went to work next week and your boss asked you to do your same job, but then for 3 or 4 hours of the week, you’d get paid less, just to help some customers out. There are low cost and discounted therapy options out there and I am happy to help you find other referral resources.
How much does therapy cost?
All services I provide are $150 per hour. Dollar amounts can be deceiving however and there are more things than an hourly rate to continue. One important factor to consider is that my practice is focused upone giving you skills that can transform how you think about your life and how you feel. I am not there just to sit and listen to you vent for an hour. My goal is to put myself out of business. While do some long term therapy, most of my clients see me for 10 or 12 sessions. There are therapists who charge less, but will encourage you to continue for years when it is not needed. There are therapists who are supportive, but not giving you information or strategies that directly help you make changes. And finally, my fee is based upon my level of experience. My fee is actually lower than most therapists with 20 + years of experience.
Some other things to consider when considering the cost of therapy:
This is an investment in your quality of life going forward, for the long term. If ten sessions creates greater peace of mind, then what is that worth over ten years?
What are the costs of not going to therapy? If you don’t work through this now, what affect will that have on your overall well-being? Relationship problems, depression and anxiety tend to get worse, if not addressed.
If you needed brain surgery, would you choose the surgeon just out of school or the veteran who has done 10,000 operations?
What if you could pay go to the gym for 4 to 6 months and never have to go back? Six pack abs for life?! Therapy is mental health strength training. We do need to keep practicing the healthy things we learn in therapy, but it we don’t need to keep paying a monthly membership for years.
Therapy can help us improve our quality of life. Being able to sleep better on a regular basis is worth a lot. Being able to get through the day without dwelling on worries makes life so much easier. Being able to concentrate at work can make a big difference in your career. Enjoying activities again without having negative thoughts in the background. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on these valuable benefits.
Relationship problems cost money, and there is an emotional toll. How much extra money do you spend each month because you can’t communicate as a couple? What’s it worth to be able to enjoy a vacation together? How much would you pay to be able to resolve arguments in a few minutes rather than going days without talking? What would it be worth to have your spouse be happy to see you at the end of the day? What is the value of agreeing about goals for investing in the future? How much more expensive is divorce?
If you are unhappy at work, how does that impact your work performance? Often we can fake it at work for a while, but eventually if we are distracted, it starts to show. Coworker disputes can lead to firing. Maybe you’re in the wrong career altogether? People tend to be happier and make more money when they find something they are passionate about. Whether it is depression or anxiety causing work to be difficult, or it’s the wrong job, Counseling can help with these career issues.
Decreasing stress can increase your overall health. Stress does not cause all health issues, but not dealing with stress can often make health problems worse. Treating anxiety and depression makes it easier to have the motivation to be healthy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also focuses on helping people increase healthy behaviors. Happier people tend to make healthier decisions. Not dealing with emotional issues tends to decrease overall health because we are coping in unhealthy ways (eating/drinking/not exercising).
How much money do you spend on booze or other distractions, because you haven’t dealt with issues that are unresolved? Do you ever spend money on things you don’t need, to try to make yourself feel better? How long does that feeling last? Do you ever spend money you don’t have and find yourself with ongoing debt? What if you could deal with emotional issues that are causing all this, and stop these spending habits?
A good therapist costs some money, but the benefits are long term and the consequences of not dealing with what’s going on can be much more costly.
What if therapy doesn’t work?
I know you are taking a big step, things are difficult, and I am 100% committed to this process. 90% of what happens in therapy happens outside of the therapy session – what you do when you are not in the office makes a big difference.
The more you put into this, the more you get out of it. Sometimes we’re not ready for therapy, sometimes I’m not the right therapist for you – again, I’ll let you know if I think this is true for you.
I don’t want to take medication – are you going to push that?
I need a new prescription; I need my meds filled.
I need a therapist to fill out my service animal form, so I can take my dog Fluffy on the plane next week. Can you write me a letter for that?
I am secretly planning on divorcing my spouse. If we come in for couples counseling, can I ask you to testify for me at the divorce/child custody hearing?
My teenager won’t talk to me. Can I bring my kid in and then you tell me everything that is going on for them?
If I am worried about a safety issue, I will tell your adolescent, “Hey, this is something we need to talk to one of your parents about; let’s invite them in from the lobby.” Or we’ll call you on speaker phone. Of course, my goal is always to help kids and parents get along better/communicate more – so I encourage this when doing individual therapy with all my teens.
Why don't you accept insurance?
I was an insurance provider for many years. Gradually it became more of a burden and took more time and energy to work with insurance billing. Often, a person has insurance benefits, but their mental health benefits are managed by a different company. Attempting to navigated the myriad of credentialing and billing options for each person became almost a full time job. By not accepting insurance, I have more time to devote to focusing on quality of care, preparing for sessions, reading, going to trainings. I have more energy to focus on what I love, which is working with people. I understand that not everyone can afford more than a co-pay for counseling. I was in that boat at one time also. Luckily there are still many insurance accepting therapists out there. If you need a lower cost alternative, I would recommend calling your insurance company or going to their member website to find contact information for insurance providers in your area (but be aware, often these directories are out of date and inaccurate).
Privacy is another concern. In order to bill insurance, a therapist has to give you a diagnosis. Many people were uncomfortable with this. While legally an insurance company can’t share that information with your employer, and currently you can’t be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition, it is difficult to predict how health care laws might change in the future. On top of this, insurance companies are doing more and more auditing of mental health providers. Whereas 20 years ago it was uncommon, more often now, therapists to have to send notes or reports to an insurance company to prove that they are actually providing a needed service. Not only is this stressful and time consuming, it is also uncomfortable for clients not knowing who is looking at their private information or what is being done with that.
On a practical level, more and more people have larger deductibles that they must reach before insurance kicks in. I began to find that for the first few months of every new client’s treatment, I had to spend a great amount of time keeping track of how much people owed on their deductibles. Also, people would feel deflated thinking that their insurance would cover mental health, only to find out that it would – after 23 sessions. Not taking insurance eliminates any of this confusions. And again, everyone’s insurance company dealt with deductibles differently. In short, if you have a deductible of $3600 and therapy is going to cost you $1500, you don’t get to use your benefits anyway (but the therapist still has to spend hours figuring that out).
Reimbursement. When I began my first private practice almost twenty years ago, I was happy with what insurance companies were willing to pay me. They almost always paid me without a hassle. Gradually the health care system became more complicated and insurers focused on finding ways to cost cut. Mental health providers have not seen rate increases, for the most part, for decades. The average reimbursment for a psychologist in 1975 was about $100, and that is what it is today through insurance. In some cases my reimbursement has even gone down, but in almost every case, I was being paid the same as I was when I started. If you hadn’t had a raise in 17 years, you would probably find a way to do business differently also. I completely understand that I am not the best therapist for everyone, and not affordable for everyone. I literally gave away my services for many years. You can find others who will do that now as well, just ask. What I have found is that when people make a solid investment in themselves, they get more out of therapy, they feel better and accomplish goals more quickly.
I have chronic pain issues – will working with you reduce my pain?
There are some things you can learn that may reduce your pain level, but this is not true for everyone.
Chronic pain therapy involves finding ways to live with pain so that it does not dominate your life. Think of it as learning to have a fulfilling life that also includes pain. I’m not a drug treatment center or an addictions counselor. I don’t help people get off opioids. However, if you have been through treatment and want support in how to cope without pain killers, I can help you with that.