Most Common Questions to Ask an Oakland Therapist
Asking the right questions from the start can make all the difference when looking for a therapist to best suit and support you. The beautiful thing about Oakland and the Bay Area, alongside the dozens of parks, nature, diversity, arts, and food culture, is there is an abundance of therapists, counselors, and psychologists. But, you’re already struggling. The overwhelming process of searching the internet, understanding the psychological jargon, choosing who to contact, and scheduling a dozen free consultation calls takes a lot of time and certainly doesn’t help.
Let’s take a breath together – *in* and *out.* Don’t worry any more than you already are. When we hop on a phone consultation I’ll take the lead and guide you through the process. I’ll ask questions and then listen so I can learn about you and determine whether we are the right fit to take the next step. There is zero pressure on you. I also want you to feel comfortable asking me anything you want on this call.
Below is a list of the 10 most common questions I get. I’ve given a little bit of my answers, but I encourage you to ask them of all your potential therapists so that you can make the most out of all your conversations:
1. What’s your clinical style? How do you work with your clients?
My style is warm, deeply compassionate, practical, and integrative. I blend traditional talk therapy approaches like cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic therapy, with holistic and alternative modalities like mindfulness meditation, somatic or body-oriented therapies, inner child work, and energy medicine. This means that go deep to uncover the root cause of your suffering while finding ways to break patterns and create change. Sometimes it’ll look like talking through things, and other times we’ll breathe, do guided visualizations, journaling, and more.
2. What has your experience been working with the issue I have?
This, of course, is hard to answer in-depth here without knowing what the issue is. I work with clients on issues like anxiety, trauma, relationship issues, codependency, major life changes, stress and burnout, infertility, and postpartum issues. I bring forward over 14 years of experience in psychotherapy, healing arts, meditation, yoga, and coaching to meet you where you’re at; offer emotional support and tools; and gently guide you through what you’re experiencing toward your goals.
3. How do you approach working with clients of a different cultural background than yourself?
I approach this important issue with curiosity and openness. I work with a number of clients from different cultural, racial, gender, and sexual orientations and backgrounds. My training in a systems approach to therapy has taught me to be curious about the context in which we live, such as how our culture, race, traditions, religions, families, and even the ecological environment we grew up in impacts our mental and emotional health.
4. Do you have any suggestions for things I can do outside of sessions to support my progress like readings, homework, or other exercises and practices?
This is up to you. Maybe you’re busy or don’t want to supplement therapy with additional tasks. Although, if you’re open to it, I love suggesting books or articles to read, journaling prompts for reflection, meditation, breathing practices, communication skills exercises, support groups, etc. Some clients find this reinforces their progress in session while furthering and deepening their growth in life.
5. What’s traffic and parking like around your office?
A great thing about Oakland is that it’s highly accessible by public transport. There are several BART stations in the city, and bus stops on most streets. Free and paid parking are available on main streets and neighboring residential areas. It’s recommended to plan some extra time for traffic and parking.
6. Are there alternative ways you meet with clients if I don’t want to or can’t make it to your office? walk and talk or online
Yes! If you have a busy schedule, want to skip the commute, have kids at home, want to enjoy the comfort of your own home, or live and work outside of the area I see my clients online using a HIPAA-compliant tele-therapy platform. If you live anywhere in California, we can meet online. If you do live in the area, I offer “walk and talk” therapy where we meet in an outdoor setting like a park or walking trail. This is really nice for people who sit all day for work or work from home and want to get out and move. Moving your body with a view of the larger natural environment while you talk can be very therapeutic and helps us process life in a different and often calming way.
7. Do you take my insurance?
I’m an out-of-network provider which means I don’t directly take insurance. However, if you have a PPO plan, I can provide you with a monthly statement (or superbill) which you can submit to your insurance and receive reimbursement for your sessions. I do accept payment with a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) that you might have through your employer.
8. How long will therapy take?
The length of therapy depends on several unique factors like your issue, goals, frequency of sessions, level of motivation and commitment, as well as the therapist’s approach and your relationship. There is no guarantee or expectation of how long it can take. Some people come to therapy for a few sessions, a few months, one year, or many years.
9. How will I know I’m making progress?
Throughout our time together, we’ll check in about your progress. I’ll ask you how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally, and we’ll take a look at where you’re at with the goals we started with. We can make an assessment together, and then decide if you’re ready to meet less often, take a pause, or stop.
10. What’s your fee and do you offer a sliding scale?
Yes, I offer a sliding scale. I also train and supervise associate therapists in my practice who see clients at a reduced rate. We can talk about the fee during your free phone consultation.
Let this list be a resource you return to with each therapist you speak with. It can take time to find the right person, especially if this is your first time seeking therapy or counseling. The more questions you ask from the start, the better chance you have of finding that person faster.
I’m here for all your questions.