improving life, KNOWLEDGE  & uNDERSTANDING

                        THROUGH MENTAL HEALTH


Psychotherapy is the treatment of psychological, emotional, or behavioral disorders using interpersonal communications between a client and a licensed counselor or psychotherapist.  During the initial evaluation period you and your therapist will clarify the nature of the problems for which you are seeking therapy, define some reasonable treatment goals and develop a treatment plan that will help you achieve your goals.  In short,  psychotherapy is about making changes.  It is a relationship built on trust and open communication,  a unique collaborative process that requires active involvement from both client and therapist, that can promote healing, health and happiness.


Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are relationship experts who treat people involved in interpersonal relationships. They are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve more positive and satisfying relationships and more productive lives.  Psychotherapy with an MFT can also include pre-marital counseling, child therapy, issues of divorce, separation and other transitions, as well as other relational types of therapy.  MFTs are psychotherapists licensed by the state of California.  Requirements for licensure include a doctorate or a two year master's degree, the passage of comprehensive written examinations, and the completion of at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience. 

There are three other types of licensed professionals who can also provide psychotherapy in California.  Psychiatrists specialize in Psychiatry and are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medications.   Clinical Psychologists obtain a Ph.D. in Psychology or Educational Psychology.  Clinical Psychologists have completed 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice and passed examinations.  Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) obtain a master's degree in social work and complete 3200 hours of supervised clinical practice and passed examinations.


Sessions are usually 50 minutes in length.  In some instances sessions are longer.  An example would be the first session, as we will allow more time for completion and discussion of the initial questionnaire, reasons for attending therapy and desired outcome of treatment.


Most psychotherapy is conducted one time per week, although it can be more depending on the circumstances.  Meeting weekly helps maintain continuity in our work together and there is more likely to be progress in your treatment.  Your schedule of sessions will depend on your special and unique circumstances and needs.   Sessions are usually scheduled at the same time each week to create consistency and structure.


The length of treatment depends on each individual or client.  It is difficult to answer that question with complete accuracy since the length of treatment is dependent on the needs of the client, consistency of treatment, desired outcome and commitment to treatment and the work of therapy.   In some cases, when there is success in treatment,  the therapist and client decide on a break in treatment for the client to practice the skills learned as a result of participating in therapy.   Then the client comes back at an agreed upon timeframe to continue treatment or to pursue other goals.  

After the first session, your therapist may be able to give you a guideline for treatment time length, but it is not exact and may need to be modified as treatment progresses.   At times, it may seem that things get worse before they can get better and this is normal.  Therapy is a process and sometimes it takes more time than we would like.   This is a challenging process but it can also bring much reward and satisfaction.


Developing personal skills for improving relationships
Finding resolution to the issues that led you to seek therapy
Finding new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Improving communication and creating healthy boundaries
Learning new skills to help manage anger, depression and overwhelming emotions
Identifying new behaviors to help break unhealthy patterns
Learning new problem solving skills
Improving Self-Esteem and developing realistic expectations
Understanding yourself better and clarifying personal goals and values with the assistance of your therapist


Ultimately, you are the one that determines that answer because it takes action and commitment on your part to make it happen.  Please know that there is nothing wrong with seeking assistance and extra support when you need it.  You are taking charge of your life and accepting that you are worthy of the life you want by seeking help from a licensed professional.  When you seek therapy, you are making a commitment to yourself to change your situation and making lifelong changes.  If you still question if you would benefit from therapy, please call me for a phone consultation.  


The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist.  Information is not disclosed without the written permission of the client.  However, there are some exceptions to this rule.  Exceptions include:
Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, which therapists are required by law to report to the appropriate authorities immediately; If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person, the therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim; If a client intends to harm him/herself, the therapist must make every effort to get the client's cooperation in insuring their own safety.  If the client does not cooperate, the therapist must take further action as provided by law without the client's permission to ensure the client's safety. 

If you choose to utilize your insurance company, there is not complete confidentiality, as they require information from you and your therapist about the treatment.  The information varies with each insurance company.  Since confidentiality is crucial to therapeutic work, this may be an area of concern for you.


Children are often not able to verbalize their problems and cannot communicate in the same way that adults can.  Instead, they often act out in ways such as angry outbursts, defiance, crying spells, withdrawal or have other drastic changes in behavior.  In treatment, children work through their issues through art, play and sand therapy.  The therapist also works closely with parents and caretakers so that everyone involved has a better understanding of what is really going and how to help children improve their functioning.  Some sessions will require parental involvement to discuss progress, treatment planning and strategies on how to best deal with behaviors in the home and school settings. 


Session costs vary depending on professional license, expertise and other reasons.  Sliding scale or reduced fees may be available.  Please see Rates and Insurance.

Content copyright2020. Deana Straus. All rights reserved.