“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Do you feel unsure about your future, about therapy, about what you want to change in your life? That's not uncommon. Often, the early stage of therapy is sorting it all out. Life moves so fast, and at some point, we suddenly find ourselves thinking: "How did I get here? Is this where I want to be?"
Over the last 21 years, I've worked with clients from all walks of life, from the successful business person with panic attacks, to the teen struggling with social anxiety, to veterans suffering from combat trauma, to spouses trying to pick up the pieces after infidelity, to the nursing home senior coping with loss of independence, to the 50 year old client saying: "My life is half over; what have I done with it and where am I going?" That's the amazing thing about being a therapist: the process is always incredibly interesting and unique. There's a collaborative artistry involved, for sure.
Sometimes, the path ahead (i.e., treatment goals and focus) is clearly defined. Other times, therapy starts with unraveling the factors that led a client to where s/he feels "stuck," dissatisfied or distressed. You don't have to have all the answers. Having the courage to bring someone into the "think tank" with you to figure it all out is part of your resilience, whether you see it that way yet or not. We'll get you there. Just take the first step.
I'm trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and have incorporated Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction methods (MBSR) in the last ten years, as they so nicely overlap with the CBT model. While I primarily provide empirically-validated therapy techniques, I have come to recognize and appreciate the artistry of therapeutic collaboration. There's something that comes together after many years of "practice" that rises above the conceptualizations, treatment plans and techniques. It's based on the therapeutic relationship between two people, the flow that's created in a non-judgmental, empathic and supportive atmosphere, where the shared goal of getting you where you want to go fuels the process. If this sounds like what you've been looking for, please review the services I provide below and contact me to get started.
I received specialized training in couples counseling both in graduate school at SUNY Stony Brook, and during my internship in Charleston, SC. I've worked with couples who are dating, engaged, married and divorcing. At any stage in the game, you can choose to strengthen your relationship skills, or address those persistent issues that fuel frustration.
COUPLE SPECIALTY AREAS
Communication & problem-solving skills
Taming your inner critic & the one blaming your partner
Shared stress reduction: Be on the same team (You & me against the world!)
Infidelity repair & recovery (How did this happen to us and where do we go from here?)
Conflict containment & resolution
Working out those persistent conflicts & learning how to improve listening skills can end your stalemate
Renewing the connection; reviving the friendship
Navigating & plotting the course to your ideal future
Frequently Asked Couple Questions
Will my health insurance cover couples therapy?
The answer is: it depends. Unfortunately, it is not a simple yes or no. Insurance companies have one very consistent criteria they require in order to cover any mental health services: "medical necessity."
What that means is the person seeking therapy must be diagnosed with a mental health disorder that the insurance deems "medically necessary" to treat, for it to be covered. In other words, billing an insurance company requires an accurate
diagnostic code to be submitted, or the therapy will not be covered.
Unfortunately, relational stressors or couple distress [v61.1], while a very common and important reason to seek therapy, is categorized as a "V-code." Insurance companies do not
consider these codes medically necessary to treat. So when can it be covered then?
If one of the partners is diagnosed with a disorder (e.g., depression or anxiety) that is exacerbated by or tied to couple conflict and distress, that person becomes the "identified patient." The insurance company will cover treatment for the identified patient that includes the partner. Research has documented that treatment to reduce couple conflict & distress can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, so insurance companies allow it only in these cases. If neither partner is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, insurance will not cover couples therapy. In those cases, private pay fees are involved instead.
Are you going to take sides and tell me I'm the problem?
I am not "Judge Judy." My role is not to hear your case and decide who is right and wrong. In most cases, there are two sides to every story and valid points on each side. It is rarely one person that is entirely at fault in couple conflicts. Typically, it takes two to tango. Even in cases where there has been an affair, there are usually factors that were problematic prior to the affair that need to be addressed involving both partners.
Are you going to tell us to divorce?
I do not advise couples to divorce, or split up. As a couples therapist, my goal is to help the couple to identify the deficits and differences in their relationship that need to be addressed, and to guide them in strengthening & resolving those areas.
Of course, not every case ends with the couple staying together. Some couples determine during this process that staying together is not healthy or best for them. There is a helpful book that I often refer to in therapy that can help you decide whether you can bridge the differences between partners called: Reconcilable Differences. It's a self help book, and can help you consider which changes are reasonable to expect from, or ask of, your partner (and yourself), and which are not.
The couple ultimately decides if they want to repair their relationship or initiate a separation. A therapist can help you sort out this question, but should not make that decision for you.
Like most therapists, I am equipped to assist with general individual issues such as depression, anxiety and stress reduction, grief, and difficulties adjusting to challenges & transitions in life. I have developed specialities over the years in the areas described below, but if you don't fit those molds and still like what you've read about my services, contact me. We'll see if I'm a good fit for your unique therapy needs. If I'm not, maybe I can recommend a better match for your therapy goals.
SINGLE & DATING STRESSORS:
Are you approachable?
Why are you a great catch? Get in touch with your strengths and attractive qualities
Examine the inner critic that holds you back
Challenge pessimistic beliefs about yourself & your future
Get creative about where to socialize & meet new people
Why so serious? Learn to make it fun!
Softening Your Inner Critic - What's Involved?
Recognize the pressure and unmanageable expectations you've placed on yourself
Examine the message the inner critic is trying to convey
Explore the harsh delivery of the inner criticism and where that came from
Learn how perfectionism, procrastination, stagnation and unmet goals or potential often go hand-in-hand and how to break this cycle
Question the role of guilt in your choices and actions
Learn about self compassion, how to develop it and become your own best advocate/friend
Frequently Asked General Question
What insurance do you accept and if you are not in my network, how do I use out-of-network (OON) benefits?
I am a provider for:
The Empire Plan / NYSHIP / Beacon Health
Even if your company us listed here, it is always advisable for you to call your Member Services (phone number is on the back of your insurance card), and verify that I am in your network. These networks are often changing, so it is wise to double check this to avoid unexpected charges. To help the insurance company search for me in their data base, you may need to offer my NPI# (National Provider Identification number): 1447266440.
If you are told that I am not in your network, ask them to explain your "out-of-network" (OON) benefits and if you can use them for mental health providers that are OON.
If your plan covers OON, my understanding of that process is:
At the time of the session or service, you pay out of pocket. The provider supplies you with an invoice (usually monthly) for the services you've received & paid for. Then, you submit this to the insurance company. The insurance company then sends you a check, reimbursing you for the percentage that they have agreed to cover for that type of service. It is always important to verify that you have OON benefits and to clarify with the company exactly what: 1) percentage they reimburse and 2) is the "allowable fee" they have set for a service. When checking the allowable fees for mental health services, it may help you to offer these "procedural codes:"
90791 - Initial evaluation
90834 - 45 minute individual psychotherapy session
90837 - 60 minute individual psychotherapy session
90847 - Couple or family therapy session