Heather Totten Counseling

16255 Ventura Blvd. Suite 502, Encino, CA 91436

(818) 928-5234

© by Heather Totten, LMFT - License #LMFT111114 - All Rights Reserved 

 

Common questions about therapy

What are the benefits of therapy?

Therapy can improve a person’s overall well-being, help them to face and change their thought and behavioral patterns, and reduce stress. Ideally, through therapy people will develop more effective skills and habits so they will better manage the challenges of life.

 

Therapeutic benefits can range from healing psychological wounds, developing a supportive relationship with oneself, replacing self-destructive behaviors with more adaptive approaches, enhancing personal meaning and quality of life, improving relationships with family and friends, successfully navigating major life transitions, increasing performance and productivity, and coping with issues of illness or loss.

What are your fees?

My standard fee for a 55 minute individual session is $150.00. I am sensitive to your financial situation and reserve a limited number of slots for sliding scale appointments. Payment is due at the end of each session and I accept cash, check or credit card.

Before you arrange a session appointment, I offer a free initial phone consultation so you can get a sense of my personality and the type of therapist I am. I will take time to answer all of your questions and we will discuss the primary issues you're struggling with and what you hope to get out of therapy. We will also discuss and arrange the fee you are comfortable with if you decide to make an appointment for an in office visit.

Do you take insurance?

I am considered an Out of Network Provider which means I am not affiliated with a particular insurance company and do not receive reimbursement from them directly. If your insurance policy provides mental health coverage I am happy to provide you with a monthly invoice (superbill) for you to submit to them so you can receive reimbursement for the fees you have paid. 

How often are sessions and how long can I expect treatment to last?

The length of time therapy takes varies from one person to the next, and is influenced by the issues at hand as well as your treatment goals. Some clients have very specific short-term needs that they want to work on, while others have more long-standing problematic concerns, or wish to take more time to explore how they can improve multiple facets of their lives.

 

Sessions typically take place weekly. The weekly frame is necessary for building our relationship and keeping the momentum going so you can get the most benefit out of therapy. Therapy works best when this weekly format is held as consistently as possible.   

Is what we talk about private?

Confidentiality is a very important part of the therapeutic process and is protected by state laws. Whatever information you reveal to me is held in strict confidence. There are however a few exceptions to the confidentiality rule which are designed to protect you. These exceptions are:

 - If you express a concern that you may be a serious danger to yourself or others.
 - If there is suspected child, dependent adult or elder abuse.

Otherwise, all information you discuss with me in session remains in the room.

What should I expect at our first session?

First, I want to let you know it is normal to feel anxious and have some feelings of trepidation before your first therapy session. I understand it is difficult to open up to a stranger and I strive to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere to help you feel comfortable and put you at ease right from the beginning. I will ask you questions in an effort to get to know you and the issues you are struggling with. We will formulate treatment goals and what you would like to achieve from therapy. I will never pressure you to reveal sensitive or painful information before you are ready. I will also never pressure you to make changes in your life you are not ready to make.

What is the difference between a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist?

A psychotherapist is someone who has a graduate degree in clinical psychology, thousands of hours of training post-degree with supervision from a licensed professional, and has passed two California licensing exams.  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has gone to medical school, done a residency in psychiatry, and passed the medical board exam.  Only medical doctors (MD’s) can prescribe and manage medication.  

Do you recommend psychotherapy if I'm already taking medication? 

Yes. Research strongly supports the conclusion that medication in conjunction with therapy is far more effective than just medication alone. There are also cases in which some individuals have been able to reduce or even eventually eliminate their need for psychotropic medication by consistently engaging in talk therapy with a therapist they have developed a trusting relationship with.