About Therapy

Confessions of a therapist- everything you don't know about your therapist

Most therapists go into the mental health field because we either have a burning desire to help people live great lives, or we have experienced hurt and pain, which creates a need to walk people out of the pain they are currently experiencing. It is a great responsibility to walk side by side with you as you are on your journey of healing. Now there are many misconceptions about therapists and counselors. Many people view us as mysterious people- but what you don't know is that we are quite easy to crack. Here are some secrets you should know about your local therapist.

I'm a regular person-just like you: Even though I'm a therapist, it's important to know that I'm a regular person just like you. I have hopes and dreams- to be healthy and happy. The only difference between me and you is that I have dedicated my life to helping people become unstuck so they can move on to brighter futures. Many therapists have families, we live in homes, some have spouses and kids. Some of us create art, sing, dance (even though I might have two left feet), watch movies, and travel. We have hobbies and do regular people things. It really is the only way we can take care of ourselves so that we can give you the care you need. If you're local in the Murrieta/Temecula area, you might even catch me around town just living life. If you've worked with me before, then you've probably heard my really loud laugh, my animated jokes and all the craziness that comes out of my mouth.

I sometimes nap on my couch: Now this is one of my deepest, darkest secrets as a therapist or counselor. Sometimes the days can be long, and when I find myself lucky enough to have a long break between sessions, I sometimes take a cat nap on my lovely couch. You see the couch isn't just for you to feel comfortable, it's also a great napping spot for me (Shh! Don't tell anyone).

I believe in you before you can even believe in yourself:  So often clients come to me broken, disillusioned and feeling lonely. Life feels so horrible that they just can't bear it. The moment you walk in to see me- sometimes with tears in your eyes-I usually can tell that you will be just fine. Because I've worked with so many women over the years, and I take great care to only take clients whom I believe I can help in some capacity. I have high hopes for you when you come to see me. I believe it is my job to hold the hope for you until you believe that you deserve to hold the hope for yourself.

I don't place judgement on you: It usually takes a while before a new client can trust me. But eventually, all my clients learn to trust me. I completely understand why many take a while to trust- after living a life of brokenness, trust is difficult to come by and must be earned. Sometimes clients are not completely truthful with me- because of guilt and shame. It is important to know that when you walk into my office, all you will receive is kindness, empathy and understanding. You can trust me with your emotions, but it is important to be truthful so I can help walk you out of the stuck, dark place.

I also have struggles of my own: I'm a therapist, not a robot. I have struggles, emotions and hard days. I have learned how to schedule my time appropriately so that I can take care of my own needs. I practice what I teach my clients. You see, self care helps me do my job effectively. But if I didn't have struggles or difficult days, I wouldn't be able to walk with you in the dark places. It is my humanity that helps me better understand my clients.

I've been in therapy before: Now I'm sure this confession will make you gasp. But there's no scandal here. Sometimes we also need our own therapists to help us see our blind spots. You see, the reason why therapy works so well, is that the therapist is able to view your situation from the outside looking in. When you're trapped in your struggle, all you can see is the struggle. It takes someone who isn't emotionally attached to you to help guide you out of your troubles. And yes, I've been in therapy before. It was one of the greatest blessings. My therapist was awesome and she helped guide me out of some of my blind spots. She was honest, capable and so very kind.

I don't walk around "Therapizing" people all day: People often ask me, "Ibi, are you analyzing me right now?" The answer is no. When I'm out and about, I take my therapist hat off and put my human hat on. I don't walk around watching parents interact with their kids or sniffing out anxious women in Murrieta. Nope. I live my life. So you don't have to run away from me if you catch me at a mental heath fair or at a pumpkin patch. But if you're my client, I'll let you say hi to me first to protect your confidentiality. 

So if you're a woman in the Murrieta/Temecula area who struggles with anxiety, and you are looking for a human therapist who can lead you from frazzled to calm, click here to schedule a free consultation call. You can also call me on 951-905-3181. I also provide online therapy for women throughout California. 

Top 6 reasons why you haven't met with a therapist

You've known for a while that something is off. Your mind is swirling with worry all the time, you feel sad when you should be happy, and sometimes, you seem to cry for no reason at all. You know you're a smart, competent woman, but sometimes you just doubt yourself. You wonder if you'll be like this for the rest of your life. It's bringing you agony and you just can't stand it.

You've heard some of your friends talk about therapy. It has crossed your mind to maybe call someone, but you're not sure if a therapist will be able to help you. After all, you're not 'Crazy,' so why would you want to call someone? Well, here are some of the possible reasons why you probably haven't picked up the phone to schedule your first appointment.

1) You're too scared: Well, that's all good. Most people are terrified when they first call or email me. It's actually quite normal. Think about it- you've struggled with this huge problem for weeks, months, or even years and it's terrifying to bare your soul to someone you barely know. Well, one of the reasons why therapy could work so well for you is that your therapist is a neutral third party who is trained to identify behavioral and relational patterns. I personally don't judge you when you walk through my doors. My job is to ask the right questions so we can figure out-together- how to get you out of the rut you feel. If I were to criticize you or judge you it'll actually get in the way of me doing great work.

2) You think a therapist might label you as crazy: I've heard this one before. "I just want you to know that I'm not crazy." Well, when a potential client calls me, I don't for a second label her as crazy. The way I see it, people call a therapist when they are tired of feeling stuck. It's as simple as that. Never would you hear me use degrading or insulting words. And if your therapist ever addresses you in a demeaning or disrespectful way-please run fast in the other direction. You don't deserve such horrible treatment.

Let's set the record straight. Therapy isn't for "Crazy people." Therapy is a great way to treat mental health symptoms, get some clarity and move closer to the goals you have set with your therapist. Therapy can be a powerful tool because your therapist is well trained and can give unbiased guidance. If you were "Crazy," a therapist wouldn't be able to help you anyway. 

3) You don't want your friends or family to know that you're talking to a therapist: The great thing about therapy is that it is actually confidential. This means that we keep whatever you say as a secret. Just call me Murrieta's best keep secret. The only issues we must report by law are child abuse, elder abuse, dependent adult abuse, as well as if you are a danger to yourself or somebody else. And of course, these laws are put in place because we protect people who cannot otherwise protect themselves. I'd rather you get mad at me, and I ensure you're safe, than let you harm yourself. So your family and friends will not find out that you are in therapy- unless you want to tell them. I pride myself as being the best kept secret in the Murrieta/Temecula area.

4) You don't know if you'll be able to trust a therapist: Talking to someone you've just met is really difficult. Trust me, I know. But the great thing about therapy is that because there is no judgement, your therapist is able to see things clearly. When you are in the eye of the storm, all you see is debris and chaos. And usually, you- the client are in the eye of the storm. But your therapist sits right outside of the storm where he or she can see everything else. Of course at first it will all feel awkward when you come into session, but with time-if the therapist is a great fit for you- you'll feel more comfortable.

This is why I offer all new clients a free 15 minute consultation call so we can both decide if we will work well together. I also only see a very limited number of clients so I can provide each client with individualized, targeted service.  You're not a number. You're a person with feelings, challenges and goals. And my job is to help you overcome those difficulties. And then what happens if you meet with a therapist and you absolutely can't stand her? Well, you just let her know that you're not a good fit and you find someone else if you so wish. You are under no obligation to keep on working with a therapist you don't connect with or trust.

5) You don't have time: Majority of my clients come in to see me once a week, and then when things get better, we go down to every other week, and sometimes, even once a month. It all just depends on their individualized needs. But what happens when you can't seem to fit 1 hour a week into your schedule? Well, then you discuss it with your therapist ahead of time so that you both can work on a mutually agreeable solution. Some people choose to do online therapy. It's therapy from the comfort of your own home or office. The benefit is that you still get to work on your goals, while in the comfort of your home. You also avoid driving time. It's definitely something to think about.

6) You don't have the money: Sometimes people do not even search for a therapist. They assume that they cannot afford one. Some therapists are contracted with specific insurance companies. It means that they signed a contract with that company so they can be reimbursed for services provided. Note that for an insurance company to cover your sessions, you will have to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Same thing as if you were going to see a physician. He or she will have to give you a diagnosis in order to be reimbursed. Sometimes you will be responsible for a co-pay or you'll have to meet a certain deductible. It all depends on what insurance plan you have. You can call your insurance company to verify how much it would cost and how many sessions they are willing to cover. 

Sometimes therapists will not bill your insurance company directly, but they will charge you a fee up front before each session. Therapists' fees range so don't assume that you can't afford one. The key is to keep searching for the right fit. And in some cases, if you have a PPO insurance, you might be able to get reimbursed if you see a therapist who doesn't have a contract with your specific insurance company. Of course, always ask your insurance company first to verify your benefits. Usually, you'll pay the therapist's fee upfront, then the therapist will give you a receipt called a super bill. After you submit the super bill to the insurance company, they will reimburse you according to their specified rate.

And there you have it. These are the top 6 reasons why many people do not reach out to a therapist when they are struggling. If you are on the fence about working with a therapist, click here to schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation call to find out if I can help you go from stuck to thriving. And if we decide we are not a good fit-that's alright too.

How can a therapist help you?

So you've been struggling with anxiety for a while but you just try to brush it away. Everyone knows you are a strong woman, so you know you will get through this. However, some days, you don't know if you can handle everything that's going on- the constant worry, the heart palpitations, the tightness in your shoulders, the thoughts that just won't stop. Will you be okay? You know one or two friends who have gone to therapy, but you think therapy is for weak people or rich people.

You cannot separate your physical health and your mental health. They work hand in hand.

Trust me, I've heard it all before. I grew up in a culture where there was actually no such thing as therapy and mental health was not discussed when I was a child. We just thought we should pray it away. But as I got older, I realized that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You see, your mind and your body are connected. That's why if you're feeling sad you might find yourself eating too much or sometimes not eating enough. Or if you're feeling super anxious, you might feel your heart beating faster. You can't ignore one without negatively affecting the other. Think of it this way, if you broke your arm, would you just pray that your bones would heal themselves? I guess not. You would pray as you were on your way to the doctor.

How to select a therapist

The first step is to find a therapist who you feel will understand you. I always suggest you do a phone consultation to see if you even like the therapist before actually taking a trip to his or her office. You do not want to waste your time with a therapist who is not a good fit for you. Decide what gender you want your therapist to be, what race and what background you're comfortable with. Some people prefer a therapist who looks like them, and others don't really mind if their therapist looks different. Either way, it's just okay. Some will choose a therapist of their same religious background and others don't really mind about the therapist's beliefs. Also, do you want a therapist that practices online therapy or counseling as an option in case you have to be away on business? These are all important things to think about.

How can a therapist help you?

So after deciding what type of therapist you want and talking with him or her over the phone to decide if both of you will be a good fit, it's now time to think about what you want help with.

1) Set clear goals for your therapy sessions.

For a therapist to help you, he or she cannot read your mind. You should have clear goals. I always ask my clients, "When therapy is over in say 6 months, how will your life be different?" This gives me a clear idea of your goals and expectations. Once you pick your goals, then I can write out a treatment plan- a summary of 2 or 3 goals you want to accomplish and how we are going to get you there. So you interview potential therapists, talk to them on the phone to see if you like them, then decide with them what you want to achieve while in therapy.

2) Understand that therapists are neutral.

Therapists are neutral parties who do not have any emotional investment in you. Well of course my wish for all my clients is that they reach their goals and thrive, but because I'm not your friend, I can view your situation with great clarity. This is also why I hand select every client before I work with them. I only make sure I take you on if I can actually get you results. If I think I can't get you results, I'll refer you to someone who I think might be a better fit for you. No harm. No foul. I'm pretty straightforward with my process.

3) Therapists look at you from the outside in.

Because I am not your friend or family member, I can give you a bird's eye view of things. When you are in the eye of the storm, you can't see clearly- all you notice is harsh winds and debris flowing around. My goal is to help you look at obstacles and barriers that have led you to where you are today. When you are so overwhelmed by all the daily hustle and bustle, you miss the small details. It's my job to catch those details and make you aware of them.

4) Therapists help you get in tune with emotions you've stuffed down.

So most of us don't grow up talking about feelings and thinking about how the world has affected us. We just grow up in auto pilot and try to survive. I work from a cognitive behavioral stand point. What this means is I help you figure out how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are linked. If you change one, you automatically change the other two. I help you figure out how issues from your past and issues in your present make you feel, so you can address them, validate yourself and learn to have more compassion for yourself. Self compassion opens so many doors and unlocks your hidden potential.

5) Therapists help you uncover patterns that have kept you stuck.

So we are all products of our environment. So yes you are different from your family of origin, but we learn different things from them. Some people say to me-my mom was very anxious, so I became an anxious woman. And of course, some of our behavior is learned, so I help you figure out why you do certain things the way you do, so you can continue to hold on to what works and get rid of what isn't working well for you. So if you grew up on a harsh environment, anger probably served you well, because it kept you safe. But once you are out of the environment, you don't have need for that level of anger anymore. And my job is to not only see you, but help you figure out how to change what needs changing.

So there you have it. These are some of the ways that a counselor or therapist can help you. If you are a woman in the Murrieta/Temecula area who struggles with anxiety and you are ready to lift your self esteem and do the work, click here to schedule a 15 minute phone consultation so we can move you from anxious and overwhelmed to calm and in control. I also provide online counseling sessions for women who live in other parts of California.

The benefits of online therapy

You've been struggling with anxiety for a while. You feel very unsure of yourself and you're becoming someone you don't recognize.  Maybe you're crying all the time or your anger is off the charts. It's affecting your work, your relationships, your kids,  and you're sick and tired of it. You know one or two friends who have seen a therapist before and the idea of going to see one has popped in your head, but you just aren't sure you're ready to go to see someone. You imagine sitting in the waiting room. What if someone you know sees you? What will the waiting room look like? Would it be cold and sterile? What if I told you that you could actually see a therapist without ever visiting her office?

Did you know that in the state of California you can actually see a mental health therapist or counselor online? That's right. As long as you are physically located within California's boundaries, you have access to a licensed therapist. Think about it- there are thousands of mental health professionals just waiting to serve you. It doesn't matter if you're in Murrieta or Temecula or Beverly Hills or Los Angeles, all you need is a computer, a webcam and internet connection. Just like that.

How is online therapy different?

When I conduct online sessions, I use the same specialized knowledge and skills that I use in regular in person therapy sessions. You fill out the same paperwork that you would if you were to see me in my office in Murrieta and I still provide you with individualized service that caters to your needs. It's the difference between a face to face conversation and a Skype or FaceTime call. And we all know there's very little difference between the two.

Is online therapy cheaper?

Well that depends on the therapist. Some therapists charge a little less for online sessions, but others charge the same. Think about it this way, when you are talking to someone on Skype, are you using less energy or fewer brain cells? Probably not. You get the exact same service and probably very similar results. But the benefit of online therapy for you is that you do not have to drive to my office, park your car, then drive back to your next destination. You can sit in the comfort of your home or office and have your session. Some people schedule their sessions during their breaks. Some people who travel for work regularly like to schedule online sessions so they don't lose the progress they've made in therapy. But remember, you have to be physically located in California to see me.

 Can I get good results from online counseling?

Yes you can get the same results from an online session as you would from an in person session. Actually you can have an online couples therapy session as well as an online individual therapy session. Like I said previously, when I conduct online sessions, I'm still using the same resources and skills that I would use with you if you were sitting across from me in my office.

 Are online counseling or therapy sessions confidential?

When I conduct online sessions, I use a secure platform called Vsee. Think of it like Skype, but more secure. The reason why I don't do Skype is because it can easily be hacked and your identity is not protected. But Vsee was created for professionals, so you can rest assured. And when I'm in an online session, I'm sitting in a room with the door shut. I'll never be at a coffee shop or at the mall. I treat the online session the same way I'd treat an in person session.

So, do you think you'd ever try online sessions?  If you are interested in scheduling a free 15 minute consultation to talk about how to get you from anxious to calm and confident, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. You don't have to be stuck forever. I'm just a click away.

What your first therapy session looks like

You've been thinking about calling a therapist for a while. You've been getting into arguments with your partner, your stomach is in knots, old memories have been creeping up in your mind, you cry sometimes and everything seems to be falling apart. You've tried to hold it together, but you are coming unglued. You know you need help, but you're not sure what therapy looks like. So here is a sneak peek into your first therapy session.

Before we dive in, note that therapists have different styles, so I'm basing this post off of how I run my first session.

Your first contact with me will probably be through an email or a call. If you send me an email, I'll ask to schedule a 15-minute phone consultation call with you. During this time, we talk a bit about what problems you're having, how you've tried to solve them, your prior experiences in therapy (don't worry you don't have to have prior therapy experiences), what your goals for therapy are, as well as issues regarding insurance and the cost of therapy. This is a time for you to get to know me, ask me any pressing questions you have as well as decide if I'm a good fit for you. Note that not every therapist call will be a great fit-hence the need for consultation.

If we decide that I cannot meet your needs, I'll either refer you to someone else or point you in the right direction. I don't work with every single person who calls me-I like to work with people for whom I can get results. But if we do decide that we want to work together, then we move on to step 2.

You'll get an email from me welcoming you to therapy. I'll also give you directions to my office and I'll send you paperwork to fill out. This gives you a chance to read over it and sign it if you agree. Doing this ahead of time will give us more time to dive into what brought you to therapy in the first place.

Your first session with me is an assessment session. It is important that we take some time to dig into your social life, physical health needs, mental health symptoms, 

important relationships in your life, past history of receiving psychiatric or psychological care, as well as your goals for therapy. I conduct a 90-minute assessment for all new clients, however each therapist does this differently. I believe in treating the root cause of your problem, not just the symptoms. Doing a 90-minute-deep dive allows me to do just that.

This 90-minute assessment session also allows you to really decide whether to not therapy is for you and whether or not you even want to work with me. You can ask whatever questions you want and if by the end of the first session, you don't want to come back, all you have to do is say so-no hard feelings on my part. I'd rather link you to the right fit that force you to work with me. 

I try to make my sessions as open as possible. Our work together is a collaboration. I'm not the boss- I'm a guide in your journey of healing. The more honest you are in answering my questions, the better I'm able to create a plan to help you reach your goals. But if you hide valuable information, I probably won't be able to help you.

It's totally normal to feel awkward or even shy during our first session together, but as the weeks go by, you'll probably become more comfortable. Remember, I'm not judging you. I'm asking you questions so we can work together to get to the root of your problems so that you can live a fulfilled life.

So, what questions do you have about the first therapy session?

If you want to hop on the phone to ask me directly and see if I might be a good fit for you, call me on 951-905-3181 or send me an email here. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions. Just know that help is out there. You don't have to struggle through your anxiety alone.

Faith and anxiety

You go to church every single week. You pray every day and you have a strong faith that God can take away whatever pain you've been carrying. You consider yourself to be a good Christian. But you ask yourself, "If I'm a good Christian, why do I still have anxiety? Why does worry seem to follow me wherever I go?"

Well, as a Christian therapist, I understand that sometimes although we are following God and doing all the right things to feed our souls, anxiety still creeps in. We still worry about our future, we worry about our friends, we worry about our families and we worry about ourselves. We wonder if our prayers will get answered, if our sickness will be healed, if our kids will grow up right and if our spouses will stay forever faithful. You might still have old wounds from the way you were raised or you might have hurts from things that have happened to you in the past. No one ever said that a Christian will not have worries-you definitely will.

As a therapist in Murrieta who understands this, I give my Christian clients the space to include prayer and scriptures into the work that we do. I understand that faith cannot be separated from the heart of a Christian. I also understand that Christians are also humans who have real hurts and real troubles. Counseling and faith can work hand in hand. God can use counseling to heal past hurts while you continue to pray. We can work together to help you to use your faith as a balm to soothe your anxiety.

So can a Christian go to therapy? Absolutely. Look at it this way- if your arm was broken, would you still go to a doctor to get it fixed? Yup. But would you also pray after the doctor has treated your arm? Absolutely. I believe God can use counselors and therapists to heal broken hearts, the same way he can use doctors to heal broken bodies. 

When last have you used your faith to soothe your anxiety? If you'd like to reach out to me for a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how we can merge faith and counseling together in order to reduce the worrisome thoughts in your head, click here to email me or call me at 951-905-3181. You don't have to put your Christian faith aside when you go to therapy or counseling.

How to pick a therapist in the Murrieta area

Your life has been difficult for a while. You're struggling with anxiety and you're considering therapy. You do a quick search online and you realize there are over 20 therapists in Murrieta alone. How on earth are you supposed to find the right one? Well here are some of my suggestions:

Does the therapist take your insurance? When people call me on the phone, one of the first things they ask me is if I take their insurance. Most people want to go this route because it's the most cost effective way for them. If you choose to use your insurance, just know that insurance expects the therapist to diagnose you. This diagnosis is permanent and will remain on your record. FYI. However, in some cases, if you don't meet criteria for any mental health disorder, then the session won't be covered by your insurance. Always ask your therapist what your diagnosis is. It's a great way to empower yourself. Note that because a therapist accepts your insurance doesn't mean they will be the best fit for you.

Also be aware that your insurance dictates how many sessions you get to have, the length of your sessions and what types of session you have. For example, some insurance companies don't cover couples counseling, some don't cover group counseling and others will limit you to 3 sessions. Call your insurance company to get all the details before making a decision. 

 Is the therapist male or female? Some people specifically want a male therapist, while others want a female and some don't have any preference. Figure out who you are more comfortable with and go that route. There's no advantage with either, just do what makes you feel comfortable.

How much do counseling sessions cost? If you are going the insurance route, ask your insurance company what your benefits are, figure out how many sessions you are approved for and also know if you'll have a copay or you have to meet a certain deductible. That way you can budget for the sessions. Note that it's also possible to work with a therapist who is not contracted with your insurance company. In this case, the therapist will give you a receipt called a super bill, which you will present to your insurance company for reimbursement. So don't fret if the therapist you want to work with isn't on the list of in network providers. Typically this works for PPO insurance companies, while HMO companies want you to see a therapist who is contracted with their network.

If you are not going the insurance route, also ask the therapist how much each session will cost so you're not taken unaware and you can budget accordingly. Either way, you'll have some planning to do.

Where is the therapist located? Do you want a therapist who's close to your home or close to your work? How far away from your home do you want to drive? Some people will drive an hour to see a therapist they deeply connect with, and others must have someone within a 10 mile radius. Think about that. Ultimately, the most important thing is having a therapist whom you deeply connect with.

Imagine driving 10 minutes to see a therapist whom you can't stand? Sounds awful doesn't it?

Can the therapist see you online if you have to be out of town? If you are a busy person who does not always have the time to drive over for weekly appointments or if you go out of town regularly, you might also want to consider a therapist who can see you remotely. I personally use a software called Vsee. It's similar to Skype, except it's more secure. Note that in California, I can only see my clients if they are physically located in California. So if you're traveling out of state, I can't see you.

How long will therapy take? Successful therapy takes anywhere from weeks to months. Have this conversation with your therapist so you can mentally prepare yourself and commit to the care you deserve. It's a lot better to be prepared than to unsuccessfully drop out of therapy.

What is the therapist's personality like? We all know which type of person we connect with the most. This is why it's important to have the free consultation that many therapists offer. Figure out if you like their voice, if they sound friendly enough, if you want someone older, younger, more experienced, etc. Do they remind you of someone from your past? Once you have your first session, if you don't feel like they are a good fit or you really don't like their personality, just tell them.  I promise my feelings will not be hurt. Remember. Not every therapist will be the perfect fit for you.

So, if you'd like to have a free 15 minute phone consultation call with me so we can figure out how to get you on board the counseling train, ou can call me on 951-905-3181.

Fears About Therapy

Your life has been in turmoil for a while. Maybe you and your spouse have been yelling daily or you're getting increasingly frustrated with the kids. You know you are unhappy. You've struggled for months and you can't seem to reach out for the help that you need. You've looked up therapy or counseling online, but you haven't had the courage to actually call a therapist.

 Here are the reasons why some people hesitate to call a therapist:

 1) Therapy means I'm crazy: Well not really. No one ever said that counseling was for "Crazy people." Therapy actually works great for people who are coherent enough to understand what the therapist is saying and can actually follow through with some of the homework given. Therapy isn't for the "Crazy," just like going to the doctor isn't for the comatose. Therapy is helpful for people who are willing to look at a different perspective and try something new. When you're stuck in old patterns, it much the time to call someone to help you get unstuck.

 2) People are going to laugh if they know I'm in therapy: Your therapist will definitely not be telling people about you. It's the law. Actually, if I see you at the store, I will walk right by you- that is unless you address me first. Now it's not because I'm ashamed of you, it's because I'm protecting your confidentiality. I do not tell anyone about you, that is of course unless you sign a form giving me permission to do so. So if your friend walks into my office and asks about you, I'll be saying to him or her "I cannot confirm or deny that I know her."

 Please note that in some instances California law actually mandates that we make a report. These instances are child abuse, dependent adult abuse and elder abuse. We also have to report if you are a danger to yourself or others. Plus you don't have to tell anyone that you're in therapy. It's YOUR business and you reserve the right to keep it to yourself.

 3) A therapist can't help me: Well, you wouldn't know unless you tried. Unless you actually picked up the phone to talk to a therapist, you'll never know if there is hope. A therapist might be able to help you, but if you don't call, they'll definitely not be able to do anything for you.

 4) Therapy will bring up painful memories: Well sometimes therapy does bring up memories we thought we had long forgotten. That is very true. But not always. Sometimes we need to dig up the dirt in order to lay the foundation. For a plant to bloom, its seed has to be buried in the soil for a while. After some time spent in the darkness, it springs out of the soil and makes its way up to become a beautiful flower. If this is a concern for you, definitely address it with your therapist. Don't let this stop you from seeking help. When we ignore our pain, it'll affect us negatively.

 5) The therapist will judge me: Well, let me speak for myself. I've had so many people come in to see me for literally thousands of hours that I really have no desire to judge you. Judging you will actually stand in the way of me doing my job. When I'm sitting across from you, I listen, I highlight patterns of behavior, I look for strengths, and then I try to challenge you to come up with solutions. If I spent my time judging you, I'd be completely useless to you. I serve as your guide, not your critic.

 6) Therapy is too expensive: Many people don't see therapy as an investment in themselves, rather, they see it as a luxury. Sometimes you might have to forgo other things in order to save up for therapy. If you spend time getting your nails and hair done regularly, you might be able to afford therapy. But think about it this way- just like you invest in a home to make memories forever, or a vacation to spend amazing family time, your mental health is super important and might take some sacrifices on your part so that you can shed the unhealthy, anxious parts of you. Would you rather spend money to heal old wounds or scrimp and continue to carry the baggage around?

And if saving and sacrificing is completely out of the picture for you, then contact your health insurance company to see if you could find a therapist who will take your insurance. Please note that when your therapist bills your insurance, your insurance company will have some of your information and your therapist will also be giving you a mental health diagnosis. So your information doesn't just stay between you and your therapist- it'll be shared with a third party. 

Are there any other fears you've had that have stopped you from seeking counseling? 

If you are searching for a therapist or counselor in Murrieta or somewhere nearby, and you'd like a free 15 minute phone consultation, call me on 951-905-3181. It's time to stop the anxiety and finally find your calm.

Questions to ask your therapist

So you've finally taken the plunge and decided to schedule an appointment with a therapist. Your heart is beating wildly, you're embarrassed and you're not sure how it's all going to go. You head into the office, you check your shirt to make sure you didn't stain it with your lunch. Your thoughts won't slow down. You ask yourself, "What am I supposed to say?" "What if she asks me something I don't want to answer or a question I don't know?"

 It's okay. Just breathe. Once you step into my office, I'll welcome you, ask you to have a seat and make sure the room temperature is all good. I'll also have tissue boxes for you, just in case things get a bit tearful. When you sit on my couch, here are some questions you can ask me.

 1) Will you be able to help me? And I'll probably tell you that I'll try my best, but I cannot give you a 100% guarantee that your life will be perfect after therapy. We will work together as a team to help you inch closer to your goals. But just like your doctor cannot promise you a sickness free life and Nordstrom cannot promise you that those pumps will change your life, I can't promise you that your life will be perfect.

 2) Did you diagnose me? Great question. If you plan to use your health insurance, then yes you'll be getting a mental health diagnosis. It's the only way insurance will pay. However, if you do not fit the criteria for a mental health diagnosis, I will not be diagnosing you. FYI it's illegal to just give someone a diagnosis just to make insurance pay. No bueno.

 3) What's my diagnosis? Another great question. I love to discuss this with my clients. I will tell you what diagnosis I gave you (if indeed I gave you one), why and what it means. This is similar to how doctors explain to you what they diagnose you with. If you're diabetic, they tell you what that means and if you pulled a muscle, they also explain to you what it means. Don't be afraid to ask me about this. I believe it could be great for your healing.

 4) How long will I be in therapy? This varies. Some people are in therapy for 6 short sessions, and others, for as long as 1 year or more. Still there are some people who show up once, decide it's not for them and they stop coming. It really all depends on your diagnosis, your commitment to do the work and what your goals are. If your diagnosis is severe, chances are you'll be in therapy longer. If you're not willing to do the hard work, you might also be in therapy longer. Either way, this is a great conversation to have.

 5) Will you be sharing my information with anyone? Technically I will only share information if you are a danger to yourself or someone else, or if I'm having to make a child abuse, elder abuse or dependent abuse report. These reports are mandated by the state of California when the need arises. I'll also have to share your information if the Feds ask me to do this (because I do not want to be complicit or a partner in crime). This is called the Patriot Act. Read more about it here. Outside of any of these situations, your information stays in my brain like a steel trap.

 If you'd like me to share information with your doctor or lawyer or husband or childhood friend, you'd have to sign a document called a release of information. In the document you'll tell me which information specifically I'm allowed to share. If you change your mind in the future, you can choose for me not to share that information.

 6) How often will our sessions be? Every therapist works differently. I personally like to see my clients weekly. This seems to be the best option for people who really want to get the ball rolling. I'm all about, let's set a goal, let's work hard to reach a goal, and then let's get you graduated. Woohoo!!

 7) Do you charge cancelation fees? Not all therapists do this, but I absolutely do. If I don't get a 24 hour notice, I do charge you a portion of the fee. This is important to note so you know exactly what to expect. Remember this, therapists see clients hourly, so if you don't show up to your appointment, we're left twiddling our thumbs. Plus if you give me a 24 hour notice, I'm able to offer your appointment time to someone else who needs some therapy. So out of respect for other clients who might want an appointment, please give a 24 hour notice so that others who also need help may take your spot.

What other questions would you like to have answered before you see a therapist?

For a free 15 minute phone consultation call with me, call me at 951-905-3181 so you can begin a path to a happier, calmer life. During this 15 minute phone call, I'll ask you what you've been struggling with, what your goals are, if you've been in therapy before, and it's your time to ask me whatever you want. Look at it this way, you get to interview me before you work with me.

What is therapy?

Therapy or psychotherapy or counseling is simply treating mental health disorders while keeping the person's individual relationships and environment in mind. It doesn't matter if you call me a therapist, a psychotherapist or a counselor-I'm fine with all three titles. 'Mental health disorders' sounds really harsh, but what that simply means is some type of psychological problem one has which is causing him or her distress. Depression causes distress, so does anxiety, so does anorexia, so does OCD, and so do schizophrenia, phobias, PTSD, insomnia and Bipolar disorder. Some mental health disorders are very severe and people struggle with them for a lifetime. While others last for a few weeks or a few months at a time. Some are recurrent and come back after a while, and some show up for a few weeks and never return. A mental health diagnosis does not make you 'crazy.' In fact millions of people work and raise families while living with a mental health disorder. 

Think of it this way-there are also millions of people around the world who struggle with physical health disorders and who live fruitful lives. Would you call them crazy? I'd hope not.

When you are on the lookout for a therapist, expect that each therapist you talk to will be very different. Don't expect to instantly form a connection with every therapist you call- simply because they have a master's degree or a doctorate. Some people will talk too slowly for you, some will be too pushy and then one will be just right.

Different therapists work from different perspectives. Some work from a cognitive perspective, which means they focus on the way you think. Others work from a behavioral perspective-they are more concerned with how you act. Still others work from a systemic perspective- taking into account your family background, your upbringing and your environment. Some rely heavily on helping you tap into your emotions, while others will never even mention the word 'emotions.'

Some therapists will take notes as you are talking, others will use a tablet or a laptop and still some will not take any notes. Typically when you walk into a therapist's office, expect him or her to ask you lots of questions about your medical history, childhood history and mental health history. This information is golden for us as we use it to figure out how best to help you. The more honest you are, the easier it will be for us to get you to your goal.

So therapy isn't this weird mysterious thing. It just looks very much like 2 people sitting across from each other and having conversations until the other person begins to feel better. You are free to ask questions and your therapist is your ally.

For a free 15 minute phone consultation with me, click here to email me or call me at 951-905-3181. You can ask me all the questions you want so we can figure out how therapy can help you. And if you decide I'm not the best fit for you, that's okay too. It's all a normal part of the process. But give yourself a chance to be free of anxiety and find the calm you deserve.