HOW MUCH DOES THERAPY COST?
The cost of a 50-minute session runs between $100-$180, depending on your ability to pay. $100 usually applies to students and $180 to CEO's, as examples. However, I will negotiate a lower fee if you are unemployed or having a difficult time financially, although such a reduced fee becomes renegotiable after you are back on you feet. All fees are due each session. I will work out-of-network with your insurance company by preparing a statement that includes a diagnosis and payment codes so that you can bill your insurer directly.
WHAT IS THE FIRST SESSION LIKE?
I will attempt to help you feel at home during the first session. Trust remains an important ingredient in therapy, and I see no need to create undue unrest. If you are anxious, as is commonly the case, I invite you to talk about what's coming up for you as well as to give me some background as to what may be troubling you. I welcome your questions about my approach and what psychotherapy is about, particularly if you have never engaged in it before. If we have not discussed fees over the phone, I will negotiate that with you, too. If for whatever reason you do not wish to continue with me and would like a referral, I will do my best to accommodate you. I do not charge for this initial session unless you wish to continue treatment with me. If you do wish to continue, I bill as a regular session. Most people decide then and there, but you are welcome to take some time to think about it. It's a big decision.
WHAT METHODS ARE EMPLOYED?
Unfortunately, misleading impressions abound as to what Gestalt Therapy is all about. From the 1960's, the idea was implanted that the method necessarily included a lot of high drama and forever talking to figures who weren't actually in the room. While portions of this are true (feelings do get released and we all have plenty that we would like to say to absent others who might not have treated us very well), the absolute prerequisite for helping anyone remains establishing a healthy, solid, trusting relationship so that delicate matters can be discussed. The oft brazen primary founder of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls, relied heavily on his renown as a means of immediately connecting with a "showcased" client. And while many people benefited from the theatrics, it's not the only way to create a bridge to a client's world. Fritz's wife and the co-founder of Gestalt Therapy, Laura, for example, with whom I had the pleasure of working, connected with her clients via a personable demeanor and unflinching honesty. Both, however, were genuinely responsive to the client, which might be the biggest take-away from the Gestalt method. If I have heard anything about clients' reaction to former therapists it is that "they just sat there." The root meaning of the word empathy is the ability to respond, which includes heartfelt honesty. Responsiveness to the client, or genuine empathy, is the basis on which trust is established.
After some trust is secured, the work is focused primarily on symptom-relief; for example, decreasing anxiety, alleviating depression, helping the attention-deficit/hyperactive person to slow down, or retarding the pace of drug use. Beyond this, though, when symptoms are relieved, is the even more daunting and elusive task of working with one's style (most often called character). Style, or our habitual ways of making and not making contact with others, refers to those areas of selfhood that are invisible even to us. Whereas the much easier task of relieving symptoms is carried out mostly on a cognitive-behavioral level so as to relieve stress, examine distorted thinking, find meaningful pursuits, and so on, working with style becomes an artistic endeavor and even more creatively impromptu. The primary ingredient then becomes ever more honesty and directness--essentially, truth. Together, the client and I work towards increased recognition of what might be overlooked in their approach to life that has foiled all attempts to find happiness in relationships, career or play. At the end of therapy, the client knows when significant improvements have been made and is ready to meet life's challenges alone and with the external supports/relationships they have constructed. If you are a couple, the process is parallel: The initial fires have been extinguished or reduced, your communication has become more honest and direct, and space finally exists for two matured individuals to participate in a "we."
IS THERAPY CONFIDENTIAL?
The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule: