Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Psy.D.?

A Psy.D. is a doctoral degree in psychology for those interested in working directly with people in a clinical setting.  Psy.D. students spend more time gaining experience in providing therapy and developing their clinical skills than traditional Ph.D students, who have a greater focus on conducting research.

The graduate program I attended, the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, focuses on training students in empirically-based treatments supported by research.

What are the differences between a counselor, a therapist, a social worker, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist?

The terms “counselor” and “therapist” are informal terms and can refer to a number of mental health care professionals:

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (L.C.S.W.) typically hold a master’s degree in social work and complete two years of supervised practice prior to earning their license.

Marriage and Family Therapists (M.F.T.) typically have a master’s degree specializing in family and interpersonal dynamics and complete 1.5 years of supervised practice prior to getting their license.

Psychologists (Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D.) have a doctoral-level degree in psychology. Doctoral programs typically take at least five years to complete and include a predoctoral internship, which is a year of full-time supervised experience. The state of California requires additional postdoctoral supervised experience before psychologists can acquire a license to practice independently.

Psychiatrists (M.D.) complete medical school followed by a residency in mental health. While some psychiatrists provide therapy, many focus on pharmacotherapy and symptom management through medications.

Can I use insurance?

Although I do not currently accept insurance, you may be able to get reimbursement from your insurance company for my services, especially if you have a PPO plan.  At the end of each month I will provide you with a statement of services, which you can submit to your insurance company.

Please ask your insurer about your mental health benefits and whether you can be reimbursed for seeing an “out-of-network provider.”  I also recommend asking about how many sessions are covered per year, how much you will be reimbursed for each session, and whether you need pre-authorization.

Please see Mental Health America’s website for more information on using insurance for mental health treatment.

How private is the information I share?

The information you share is kept confidential and cannot be revealed to anyone without your permission.  Your privacy is protected by the ethical and legal standards that psychologists must uphold.

There are a few exceptions to these standards that you should be aware of.  They are aimed at maintaining your and others’ safety.  A psychologist may be required to reveal relevant information when:

  • A client is determined to be a danger to himself/herself or to someone else.
  • A child, older adult, or dependent adult is at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • A client is involved in a lawsuit and records are subpoenaed.
  • A client is in a life-threatening medical situation, and the psychologist has pertinent information.

What if I am interested in taking medication?

As a psychologist, I am not able to prescribe medication.  If you’re interested in supplementing therapy with medication, I can refer you to a psychiatrist in the area who can work with you to assess your needs.

What is your policy on missed appointments?

Missed or cancelled appointments will be charged in full unless you have given 24 hours’ advance notice.