Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
The following are questions that folks often want to know about counseling in general, about my practice, and about me personally. I hope it answers your questions, and that it helps you to decide if I'm the right therapist for you.
Due to recent health problems I do not currently have a physical office. I apologize for the inconvenience.
My usual hours available for appointments are:
- Monday: 10am—7pm
- Tuesday: 9am—7pm
- Wednesday: 10am—8pm
- Thursday: 10am—7pm
- Friday: 9am—6pm
- Saturday: 9am-4pm
- Closed on Sundays
To see if a specific day & time is available you can check my online calendar.
The length of an individual session is about 45 to 50 minutes (or for couples who want a shorter session). Couples or families can choose to schedule a 75 minute session (Multi-person).
By far, the typical frequency of sessions is once a week for most of the course of treatment. When you get close to reaching your goals, we'll discuss lengthening the amount of time between sessions more and more until you no longer need treatment. However, counseling is voluntary, so you can choose how often you come in and I'll do my best to accommodate you.
Some folks are concerned that they'll be "kept in treatment forever." If this is one of your concerns maybe you will feel more at ease knowing this: I liken counseling to a plaster cast - it's only useful as long as it's needed as an external support. When you're done with treatment, you're grateful to have had it, but it's no longer needed.
I can assure you that I, in no way, want to make or keep you dependent on me or on your treatment. (I've already got enough to answer for before the Throne of God without adding that!)
Sometimes folks who are new to counseling want to know if they pay monthly, or by session, or if I bill them, etc.
I ask that my Clients pay for each session at the beginning of the session. (Sometimes I get so engrossed in the session that I forget to ask for payment - so to avoid the hassles of trying to collect the fee after you've left the office - I simply ask for payment prior to the session).
As for payment types - you may use checks, or Apple Pay, or PayPal. (Chickens, cows, and bartering are no longer accepted, I apologize.)
Currently I'm not on any insurance panels. I can understand your desire to use your insurance. I’ve had to make use of my own health insurance several times over the years, and I’m very grateful that I had it to cover my costs. But, I don’t like to bill insurance companies for the therapy I provide.
There are several reasons I don’t like to bill insurance companies for therapy:
- In order to have your insurance pay for your therapy, I’d have to give you a serious mental disorder diagnosis (which would make therapy "medically necessary").
- Depending on the insurance company, I might be required to write a report on you every five to ten sessions to show that you’re still "sick" with that mental disorder. For them to continue to pay for therapy, my report would need to show that you’re still sick and getting better, but that you aren’t "cured" yet. I really don’t want to have to write a report to anyone that shares the intimate details of your "mental disorder."
- If that's not bad enough, someone from the insurance company (who doesn’t know either one of us) is going to read that report, and assess how our work is going, and then they will decide if they will continue to pay for your therapy. To me, it would feel like they’re sitting in the room judging us and how we’re doing. Personally, I think how well the therapy is going should be something that you and I decide -- not someone else who doesn’t know either of us.
- I’m not sure if this is entirely true, but I've heard that these reports can pass through quite a few hands (as much as 14 different people) at the insurance company.
- Your "mental disorder diagnosis" would be noted on your permanent medical record. I'm not comfortable with that, and I don't think most of my Clients would be either.
- If you’re self-employed, or if you ever might be, that "mental disorder diagnosis" on your record can make getting future health care insurance very expensive.
- Often, the diagnosis of the kinds of problems that my Clients have the most (i.e., "V-Codes") aren't accepted as being "debilitating" enough to warrant reimbursement from the insurance company.
- Many, many insurance companies will not pay for couples therapy at all, because they deem it "not medically necessary" (obviously they've never been through the pain of a bad relationship).
Those are the main reasons why I don’t take insurance.
However, I totally understand your desire to use it. So here are a couple of options for you: If you really would rather use your insurance, you can A) go to your insurance company and get a referral to a different therapist, or B) you can get treatment from me and pay out-of-pocket for your sessions, or C) I can provide you with what is called a "Super Bill" for each session, (sometimes requiring that "mental disorder diagnosis" again) which you can then submit to your health insurance company for a full or partial reimbursement of your session fee. Not all insurance companies or policies accept Super Bills, so you should check with your insurance company before deciding to do take this route.
I understand that therapy can be a big investment of time, effort and money, and it would put many folks at ease if they knew just how many sessions it was going to take to feel better. I'd like to be able give you a definite answer to this question, but, unfortunately, no one can.
I can tell you that, as a husband and a father of 3 children, I know what it's like to be concerned about the bottom line. And I also know what it's like to be in so much emotional pain that you can't stand to be there any longer than you have to be. I deeply respect both the monetary and emotional sacrifices that my Clients make in order to make their lives better. Because of that, I do all that is in my power to help my Clients as quickly as possible. The more you put into your treatment, the less time it will take.
I can tell you that I work using a Brief Therapy model (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and that the average length of treatment for folks using this model is between 8 to 18 sessions (your "mileage" may vary).
My fee is less than the average going rate because I really do want to make my help affordable to as many people as I can. I currently charge using a flat fee. The fee is $100 per session (Individual or Mult-person). The fee is the same for couples and individuals. If even my fee isn't acceptable, I could still give you some referrals for even lower-cost alternatives with counseling services that typically provide services using intern therapists.
Why not contact me to see what I can do for you?
Yes! Often people believe that both of you have to go to counseling together to make improvements in your relationship, and for some therapists this is the only mode they'll work in. However, good progress can be made in your relationship, even if just one of you wants to come in for help. Consider that if your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend sees you improving and feeling better, and witnesses the improvements in your relationship first hand, often they are willing to join you later!
With that said, if both of you are wiling to come in together-that's even better! I can then observe your interactions, communication styles and the dynamics that affect your relationship first-hand. And better progress can be made more quickly with both of you working together to improve your relationship.
Definitely not! You don't have to be married or even engaged to benefit from relationship counseling!
Unless, of course, you're not experiencing any difficulties, but, then why would you be here reading this if that were the case?... ahem, I digress.
In fact, many of the dynamics in non-marital relationships are similar to a marriage relationship, and the communication and conflict resolution skills involved are practically the same.
I believe that this is actually the best time for a couple to seek counseling because it allows you to gain any needed relationship skills and resolve any past hurts or resentments before they can create a much bigger problem in the future. And it allows you the opportunity to really consider both of your wants and needs in your relationship before you make any public commitment to each other (which could influence your decision-making ability).
Yes indeedy. Not a problem. Jesus said that "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me." I kinda take Him at His Word. So, what that means for you is that whatever I do for my Clients, whoever they are, I look on it as being done to my Lord and Savior.
Now, sometimes this question belies an understandable concern such as... "Are you some kinda Catholic weirdo Jesus freak or somethin'?" See the next question for the answer to that...
The answer to that is, well, "No." Although I've been affectionately called a "weirdo" by some of my closest friends, I want you to be assured that I really am a regular, down-to-earth guy. Or to put it another way I believe, as the saying goes, that "God prefers spiritual fruits, not religious nuts."
You might be concerned that I would impose my views and beliefs on you. Please know that I consider that to be an unethical professional practice and would not impose my views or beliefs on you, or make agreeing with me (on anything) a condition for treatment. I leave it up to my Clients to indicate to me how much or how little they want their religious or spiritual beliefs or practices brought into their treatment. (And I wouldest not talketh to thee liketh thisith, either.)
I do believe that the more God (our Creator) is brought into your life, the better off you will be - and that is especially true when you are in pain and struggling with life. So, with me, you have the option of enhancing your treatment with a faith-based approach — as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
There are many ways that Catholic counseling is different from other approaches. This question really deserves a more thorough answer than can be provided in a FAQ answer, but I'll give you a few highlights here:
- The comfort and peace of mind that come from having shared values with your therapist
- It can allow you to be able to trust me and the process of counseling more, so you can then benefit more from it
- My counseling, my perspective on relationships, and life in general, are grounded and formed by Sacred Scripture and the Teaching of the Church (and not formed by "every wind of doctrine")
- My Christian Clients and I are able to reference common experiences and beliefs more which improves the quality of the therapeutic relationship (which also helps you to improve quicker and with better results)
- I pray for my Clients daily, and often offer up my Masses for them.
- As a "side-benefit", many of my Clients' spiritual lives improve as well.
- I strive daily to be open to the influence of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) to be the instrument of our Great Physician and Creator in helping you heal.
- If you'd like, I can even incorporate Catholic Teachings, the wisdom of the Saints, devotions, novenas, Sacramentals, etc. into your treatment for even greater benefits!
- See more information, and my listing at CatholicTherapists.com
I have a bachelor of science degree in Human Services, and a masters degree in Counseling, both from California State University, Fullerton working with instructors such as Michael Russell, Ph.D., Kristi Kanel, Ph.D., Patrick Calanan, MFT, and Gerald Corey, Ed.D.. I also attended St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, for a short time. (I also went to local Catholic grammar and High Schools, but you probably weren't wondering about that far back in my educational history!)
I worked with Catholic Charities of Orange County for seven years where I received valuable experience, training and supervision from Alice Thull, LCSW; Regina Lindner, LMFT; and Fr. Ric Sera, Ph.D., LMFT.
I've also had training in the Gottman marital therapy method, and I've been certified as a Family Wellness Instructor.
I was born in 1964. (Sorry, I can't figure out how to make the web page figure this out for you...)
I am married! We married in 1991.
(Hey, I got that right! ...now if I could only remember the date. Hmmm...)
We have 3 absolutely beautiful girls, and we treasure them as gifts from God (on loan to us)!
Yes, I know what it's like to get my hands dirty changing diapers, to be spit up on (I was the favorite of all 3!), to have to tell them to brush their teeth (night after night after night), to struggle with how much to discipline them, etc. etc...
I can say that I know what it's like to be a parent, but no one can say that they know completely what it's like for you to be the parent of your children, but thankfully, that's not a necessity in order for me to be able to help you!