Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a mental health clinician. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client. You should be aware, however, that if you use insurance benefits to pay for all or part of your therapy, some information about your treatment will need to be reported to your insurer.
In addition, there are some special circumstances in which the law requires therapists to break confidentiality. These exceptions include:
1. If you present a danger to yourself, to others, to property, or are unable to care for yourself.
2. If there is suspected past or present child, dependent, or elder abuse or neglect.
3. If the court orders a release of information as part of a legal proceeding, or as otherwise required by the law.
Are there risks to therapy?
While therapy is designed to be helpful, it may at times be difficult and uncomfortable. You may have more symptoms initially as you verbalize and become aware of uncomfortable feelings or experiences. Remembering or talking about unpleasant events, feelings, or thoughts can result in you experiencing considerable discomfort or strong feelings of anger, sadness, worry, fear, frustration, loneliness, helplessness, or other emotions. We may challenge some of your assumptions or perceptions or propose different ways of looking at, thinking about, or handling situations that can cause you to feel upset, angry, depressed, challenged, or disappointed. Attempting to resolve issues that brought you to therapy in the first place may result in changes that were not originally intended. Sometimes a decision that is positive for one family member is viewed quite negatively by another family member. There is no guarantee that therapy will yield positive or intended results.
How long does therapy take?
The length of treatment depends on the issue(s) presented, the level of severity, and your motivation. The first 1-3 sessions will focus on evaluating your strengths, mental health needs, and goals and developing an effective treatment plan to meet your needs. Most of our clients meet with their therapist once a week for 3-4 months. After that, you may meet with your therapist less often for a couple more months before mutually agreeing to terminate treatment. If you have a very specific issue that surfaced recently, we may develop a more structured and concrete plan with a limited number of sessions. If you have an on-going issue or problem affecting many areas of your life, longer-term therapy may be necessary.
What can I expect at the first session?
Prior to your first appointment, please print and complete the new client forms that the office manager e-mails you after you set up your intake appointment. Please bring these completed forms with you to the first session. The first session is a 90-minute session that begins with the teen and parents together. The therapist will review the completed forms with you and will answer any questions you may have. The therapist will then ask the parents to talk about their concerns and what they hope to accomplish through therapy. Although you may have already given this information to the therapist over the phone, we like to have you repeat it with your teen present in order for your teen to fully understand your concerns and for all current concerns to be brought into the open. The therapist will then ask the parents to leave and will spend the next portion of the session getting to know the teen and talking with the teen about the teen's concerns. The parents will be invited to rejoin the session for the last 10-15 minutes at which time we will discuss if Los Gatos Teen Therapy is a good fit for your teen and family and if so, how we would like to proceed. If it is determined that Los Gatos Teen Therapy is not a good fit for your teen or family, then we will happily provide you with referrals for other local therapists who may be a better fit.
We need help, but my teen does not want to come to therapy. What should I do?
We recommend that you tell your teen that he is required to come to one session, but that after that session, he can determine whether or not he would like to return. This is often very effective because by the end of the session, the teen typically feels heard and understood and many of the misconceptions the teen may have had about therapy are dispelled. In most cases, the teen chooses to return to therapy. This is also very effective because it allows the teen to participate in therapy by choice and not because the parents are requiring it. The teen is then more committed to therapy and to the change process.
As parents, what will you tell us about what our teen discloses?
We will always tell the parents, as is required by law, if we believe the teen is a danger to himself or others. It is important that the teen has a safe, private space to work on his goals. For therapy to be successful, the teen must be able to talk freely, without feeling like what is shared must be censored for fear of disclosure to parents. Therefore, if we see a teen for individual therapy, we will not disclose information to the parents without the teen's consent unless we believe that the teen is a danger to himself or others. Some disclosure by the teen can be extremely helpful in facilitating a trusting relationship between the teen and the parents and we will work with the teen to encourage this type of disclosure. With the teen's consent, we will also give the parents periodic updates on the teen's therapeutic progress. We encourage the parents to call us with any questions or concerns throughout the course of treatment.