Frequently Asked Questions
What is counseling? Is something wrong with me if I seek therapy/counseling?
Nothing is wrong with you if you seek therapy! I believe that counseling is an opportunity and process for you to understand yourself better and that counseling helps you gain new perspectives. I believe that you will find ways to reduce your challenging symptoms and to learn how to effectively cope with your challenges by working with me, a trained and licensed psychotherapist.
What are your credentials?
I have a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the State of California. I went to the University of Southern California School of Social Work (Master's degree) and graduated with Honorable Mentions. After that, I completed more than 3,200 hours of supervised post-degree professional experience. I passed 2 exams, the Standard Written exam and the Clinical Vignette exam. As an LCSW, I am allowed in the State of California to practice psychotherapy independently.
How is counseling different from talking to my family or friend?
While talking to your family or friend might be helpful and is free, there are a lot of differences between talking to a friend/family and talking to a therapist. You may have felt that you were not heard or you may have received some advice that was irrelevant to you when you talked to your family or friend. You may also worry if your friend or family will talk to others about what you shared with him/her. Therapists are trained professionals who actively and closely listen to you and who provide a non-judgmental, supportive, and safe environment. Therapists can also be objective. Therapists observe their clients during sessions and provide insight. Therapists can help you identify your challenges/underlying issues and help you cope with them. Therapists may utilize various therapeutic techniques including but not limited to talking, playing, and drawing. Many therapists including myself use evidenced based practice models.
Will I need medication to feel better?
People have different issues and symptoms, and since I am not a medical doctor, I cannot answer whether you will need medication to feel better. What I can say as a mental health professional is that just because you take medication does not mean that your underlying issues are solved. In order for you to overcome the issues you have been dealing with, you will need to work on deeper and underlying issues rather than working on only superficial issues.
A few characteristics of participating in psychotherapy include working on your underlying issues/emotional pain, being mindful about what you are experiencing, challenging your distorted thinking patterns, and working on effective coping skills.
Is therapy confidential?
Confidentiality plays an important role in psychotherapy. As a general rule, I will keep the information you share confidential. However, there are times when confidentiality cannot be maintained. Some examples include when I believe: suspected child/elder/dependent adult abuse/neglect, danger to self/others, and judicial/court involvement. Before you begin therapy, you will receive the ‘office policies/agreement for service contract’ form. For more information about confidentiality and exceptions to confidentiality, please read it carefully. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me anytime.
I have tried counseling before and it did not go well. Is it worth trying your counseling?
Of course it's worth trying my counseling! There are many therapists with different educational and clinical backgrounds, theoretical orientation, and clinical experience. In therapy, having a good fit is very important. Perhaps, your previous therapist and you may not have been a good fit. If you feel like you are stuck or you would like to talk about issues you are experiencing, I highly recommend that you try my counseling services.
I'm not sure if I need therapy or when I should start therapy.
If you feel like you want to try therapy, it is probably the right time for you. Receiving therapy is an investment and commitment for you. Typically, you would feel better quicker if you start counseling when your symptoms are not severe. Please do not wait until your symptoms get worse because your feelings will be more painful and the issues you have been experiencing will get more complex.
How long will I go to therapy?
It depends on each individual's symptoms, his/her needs, and what he/she wants to accomplish. Therapy can be short-term (several sessions) or long-term (several months or longer). In my psychotherapy, I may make recommendations about your treatment based on my clinical assessments. I do not force anyone to stay in treatment with me. If you have any questions about your treatment plan, please do not hesitate to ask me.
How often will I see you?
Clients are expected to see me once a week for counseling. Throughout counseling sessions, the frequency of sessions may change depending on their progress and needs. Based on my clinical assessments, if I believe that you need intensive treatment, I will share my opinions. In addition, if I believe that you may benefit from other professionals (i.e. psychiatrist) or that another therapist is a better fit for you, I will provide you with referrals as needed.
How do I know if you are the right therapist for me?
In counseling, it is very important to find the right therapist for you. You may be able to tell if I am the right fit for you on the phone during a 15-minute-free-consultation. It may take a few sessions for you to have a sense whether I'm the right fit for you.
Here are some things to consider: You feel that you are supported and heard by me. You and I built a good rapport/connection. You feel that I am empathetic. In addition, if the issue(s) you would like to address is listed in my clinical focus, I may be the right fit for you. Please click here to read my clinical focus.
Based on my clinical assessments, if I believe that you need intensive treatment, I will share my opinions. In addition, if I believe that you may benefit from other professionals (i.e. psychiatrist) or that another therapist is a better fit for you, I will provide you with referrals as needed.
I am NOT the right fit for you if the following applies to you:
• You are/recently were a danger to yourself or a danger to others.
• You are/recently were in an urgent crisis or an emergency situation due to a psychiatric reason.
• You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, or if you have been advised to be in psychological supervision or psychiatric care.
• You require intensive mental health services.
• You are required to receive therapy by a court order or by any other authority.
• If the identified client is a minor, all of the minor's legal guardians do not consent for the minor's treatment.
How long is each session?
Typically each session is 45-50 minutes long. As needed, longer sessions are available.
Do you take appointments?
I am available by appointment only. Please feel free to contact me at 916-533-4535 for a free 15-minute-consultation.
Can I/my child see you for counseling? Are there times you cannot be my/my child’s counselor?
If I'm a good fit for you/your child, and if what you/your child want to address in therapy is within my scope of practice and competence, I'm happy to work with you/your child!
Please note that I reserve the right to refuse providing clients with therapy at my discretion. Examples of refusing to provide services include, but are not limited to: conflicts of interest, lack of my availability, untimely payment of fees, and the client’s needs are outside of my scope of competence or practice.
Please contact me for a 15-minute-free consultation today.
Do you accept medical insurance?
At this time, I am considered as an 'out-of-network' provider. If you have medical insurance with PPO, you may use your out of network benefits. Please directly ask your medical insurance company about your benefits. I'm happy to provide you with a monthly statement you can submit for reimbursement. Please note that if you use out of network benefits, I do not directly communicate with your insurance company, and I do not guarantee any form of reimbursement from your insurance company. Your insurance carrier may or may not reimburse the full/partial cost of services you received. All of my clients are fully responsible for payments of my services.
If you have international travel insurance, expatriate health insurance, or study abroad insurance, your insurance carrier may cover counseling services, and they may reimburse you the full/partial cost of counseling services you received. Please directly contact your insurance company about your benefits. I'm happy to provide you with a monthly statement you can submit for reimbursement.
What are some advantages/disadvantages of private pay? What are some advantages/disadvantages of using out-of-network benefits of my health insurance?
The biggest advantage of private pay without using your health insurance is that your mental health assessment (i.e. diagnosis) will not be disclosed to a third party like your health insurance company. If you use out-of-network benefits of your health insurance, part of your cost for therapy might be reimbursed (Please check your plan first by contacting your health insurance company since each individual's benefits and plan vary). Insurance companies typically require a mental health diagnosis when clients use their insurance whether the provider is in-network or out-of-network. This means that when you submit a monthly statement to your health insurance company for reimbursement, your diagnosis is written on the statement. Therefore, your diagnosis is revealed and will become a part of your medical record.
What's the process of receiving your services like?
1) Please call me at 916-533-4535 or send me a message on the 'contact' page.
2) I will provide you with a 15-minute- free consultation over the phone to see if we are a good fit. If you and I agree to have an initial session, we will talk about our intake appointment.
3) You will complete required paperwork online and pick your appointment date and time.
4) During an intake appointment, I will conduct an assessment. You and I will discuss your treatment plans and goals. Assessment is done in one to two sessions.
5) Treatment starts.
What is your cancellation/rescheduling/missed appointment/tardiness policy?
At least a 48 hour notification prior to your appointment is required to cancel or reschedule appointments. If you provide less than 48 hour notice of a cancellation or need for reschedule, or if you do not show up for your appointment, you will be responsible for paying the full session fee regardless of the reason. If you are late to your appointment, your session will not be extended. Without 48 hour notification, refunds will not be made.
What services can you provide and cannot you provide?
I can provide counseling/therapy in my office and online, but I cannot provide prescription and cannot conduct psychological testing. As needed, I will provide you with referrals.
How do I know if I am a right fit for your telehealth (online counseling)?
Telehealth (online counseling) may be the right choice for you if you are in the State of Calfornia and if you cannot or do not want to come in to my office for whatever reason (i.e. not being able to drive, severe social anxiety, far from my office, busy schedule).
If you live in an area where counseling is expensive, my services might be the right fit for you because my fee is affordable.
To protect your privacy, I use a secure online counseling program (bank level security) for telehealth services.
Online counseling is NOT the right fit for you if the following applies to you:
・You are/recently were a danger to yourself or a danger to others
・You currently are/recently were in an urgent crisis or an emergency situation
・You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, or if you have been advised to be in psychological supervision or psychiatric care
・You require intensive mental health services
・You are required to receive therapy by a court order or by any other authority
・You do not have a way to connect to the Internet or you do not have a reliable Internet connection.
・You do not have a quiet and confidential room where you can focus on counseling.