Frequently Asked Questions

Can a psychologist help me?

People come into therapy for a variety of reasons. Some need to respond to unexpected changes in their lives, such as a death, the loss of a job or an important relationship, a health concern, a move away from home, or a traumatic event. Others seek self-exploration and personal growth. Still others wish to overcome long-standing psychological problems, such as guilt, depression, anxiety or despair.

Psychologists can help clients to better understand and deal with immediate crisis situations, unresolved issues from the past, or long-standing patterns of unhealthy behaviors. The reasons for going into therapy and the possible solutions to problems are as varied as the people who come for help.

In my practice, I offer services to those 18 and older.

Read on for Additional Frequently Asked Questions,
and Answers.

How can therapy be of help?
Psychologists can provide support, insight, and a new perspective on difficult situations. They can help people find the motivation and the strategies to resolve problems and accomplish goals. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands and cares.

A psychologist can also help you in breaking down big problems into manageable smaller tasks, and in finding new solutions to old challenges.

Some of the potential benefits available from psychotherapy include:

• Discovering new ways to manage difficult life transitions
• Finding more effective ways to deal with challenging relationships
• Learning new skills to solve problems
• Gaining a better understanding of yourself and your issues
• Learning specific strategies and new techniques to cope with stress, anxiety and depression
• Managing anger more effectively
• Improving communications skills: learning how to listen effectively to others, and discovering how to get others to listen to you
• Learning specific ways to end destructive behaviors
• Improving your self-esteem and gaining self-confidence

How will I know if Dr. Griffin is the right therapist for me?
Choosing your therapist is an important decision. In addition to considering credentials and competence, it is critical that you feel respected and understood by your therapist. You should also feel a sense of trust, and an ability to be open and honest.

To help assure a good therapeutic fit, I encourage prospective clients to contact me by telephone to ask any questions they may have. The free telephone consultation implies no obligation for either of us but provides a chance for us to discuss your situation in some depth, and to get a sense of whether we would work well together.

In terms of my areas of interest and specialization, I work with a variety of issues, including:

• challenges related to aging and serious illness
• depression, anxiety and stress
• grief, loss and bereavement
• divorce
• career concerns
• recovery from trauma or painful childhood experiences
• gay and lesbian issues
• life transitions
• issues surrounding spirituality and beliefs

How long will it take to address my concerns?

This depends on your goals in therapy and the scope of the problem. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.

It is interesting to note that some clients feel better after just a few sessions, while others accomplish their initial goals and then choose “maintenance” work, coming in every month or two to keep up the progress they have made, or to gain ongoing support during challenging times.

How frequently will I need to come in?
People often find that one or two sessions a week are initially most helpful, though clients who are in crisis may wish to come more often. As problems become resolved, individuals may want to come less frequently.

Frequency of sessions is typically determined by need, and need is usually determined collaboratively by the client and the therapist.

What do I say when I call for the first time?
When we speak on the phone for the first time, you can inform me of the issues that are of concern to you, and I can answer any questions that you may have about therapy in general or about my practice in particular.

What will my first appointment consist of?
Your first appointment will most likely be a formal consultation lasting approximately 60 minutes. We will discuss the problems you are having and you can ask me any questions you might have. I will do a comprehensive assessment and I will propose treatment options for you. If I am not the best person to treat you, I will offer you referral options.

What can I expect in follow-up therapy sessions?
After the initial assessment, follow-up session typically last for 50 minutes. Longer or shorter sessions can be arranged based on special circumstances and the client’s needs.

In terms of the CONTENT of sessions, clients and therapists typically discuss the primary issues that brought the individual into therapy. The topics are usually selected by the client, with feedback and insights offered by the therapist. The therapist collaborates with the client in determining the goals of therapy and the week-to-week focus.

Is therapy confidential?
The confidentiality of the information you provide to me is protected by both California state law and by the standards and ethics of my profession. No information is disclosed without your prior written consent, except in four specific situations.

The four important exceptions to the confidentiality rule are specified by law. Exceptions include:

• Suspected child abuse, dependant adult abuse or elder abuse. The therapist is required to immediately report these situations to the appropriate authorities.

• Client threats of serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police of this.

• Client threats of intent to harm himself or herself. I will make every effort to work with the individual to insure his or her safety, but if the client does not cooperate, additional measures may be necessary.

• A court order, issued by a judge, can compel any therapist to disclose client information. In most cases, courts recognize the importance of client confidentiality, so that a court order to disclose information is very rare in my practice.

What if I think that I need medications, or I am already taking medications?
Sometimes a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. By working with your psychiatrist or your family doctor you can determine what medication is best for you.

The long-term solution to mental and emotional problems often cannot be solved by medication alone. While medication can sometimes treat your symptoms, psychotherapy addresses the causes of distress and the behavior patterns that hold back progress. Many people achieve personal growth, meaningful change, and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach that includes both medication and therapy.

I am happy to refer you to a psychiatrist or work with your current physician (with your permission), in order to insure coordination of care.

Does Dr. Griffin take insurance?
I am a preferred provider for Medicare and for some other insurance plans. I am considered "out of network" for other insurance plans. Feel free to call me for more information about this.

If you wish to seek reimbursement from your PPO health insurance plan, I will provide you with a bill that you can submit to them. According to many PPO plans, I am an “out of network” provider and some portion of my services may be covered. However, you will need to call your insurance plan to verify coverage amounts.

To get more information about your own plan’s mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier and get answers to the following questions:

• What are my mental health benefits?
• What is my deductible? Has it been met?
• What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
• How many therapy sessions does my plan pay for?
• How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
• Do I need a referral from my primary care physician before I can see a mental health provider?