Frequently Asked Questions
1. "Do you accept _______ insurance?" - I do not participate in any insurance networks and have opted out of Medicare at this time. If you have an out-of-network policy with your insurance, you can submit to them for reimbursement of eligible expenses per their policies and procedures. I do not file claims for clients. I also have reduced fee options for those who require it.
2. "What is an 'LCSW'? Are you a 'Dr.' or Psychologist?" - 'LCSW' stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Licensed Clinical Social Workers are one type of professional in an alliance of health professionals who provide psychotherapy, including Licensed Medical Doctors who are Board Certified Psychiatrists, License Psychologists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, and Board Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners. LCSWs received intensive education (minimum accredited Masters degree of Social Work), training and post-graduate supervision (minimum of 2 years post-graduate) and are highly qualified clinicians who provide individual, couples, family and group psychotherapy services. I do not hold a doctoral degree, so I do not hold the title 'Dr.' Simply call me 'James.'
3. "What are your qualifications to provide couple/marriage therapy?" - In addition to being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with advanced generalist education and training in individual, couple/marriage, family and group psychotherapy formats, I hold Certification as an Emotionally Focused Therapy Practitioner and Supervisor, which goes well beyond licensure requirements and is a multi-year post-graduate training and supervision process. To read more about Emotionally Focused Therapy ('EFT'), an evidence based approach to couple therapy, go to my page or to www.iceeft.com. Additionally, I have received formal post-graduate training and supervision in Discernment Counseling and the Gottman Method (Levels 1 & 2). I also consider myself a 'couples specialist,' and dedicate 75% of my clinical practice to seeing couples (the other 25% are with individuals and with families with adolescent and adult children), and provide LCSW licensure and EFT certification supervision to practitioners-in-training.
4. "Under what circumstances will you not see us for couple therapy?" - There are a few instances that couple therapy is not appropriate to begin or continue. Couples specialists call these "the 4 A's": active Affairs, active Addiction, Abuse, and agenda to Abandon... these circumstances nearly always create injuries to the couple's attachment bond. Essentially, the relationship needs to have both partners committed to respecting mutually agreed upon boundaries, not be deceptive with their partner or turning towards other persons, activities or substances to get needs met, not actively planning to leave the relationship, and not use any sort of violence, intimidation or control tactics... physical and baseline emotional safety is required preserve, repair and improve a couple's relationship. If these issues have been present previously, they will need to be addressed in the course of the therapy, the success of which is predicted in these cases in part by the remorse shown and corrective action demonstrated by partners previously involved in affairs, addictions, abuse actions, or abandonment of their partner.
5. "What if I'm not ready to end the affair?" - If you are not ready to end an affair you are involved in, I have some questions for you. Why are you interested in pursuing the emotional and financial investment of couple therapy with your partner? What sort of relationship do you want with your partner? One where you have to hide aspects of your life and live with anxiety about this, or one where you can be open and honest about your self and your life? Do you think your affair partner(s) will be satisfied with being in a secret relationship forever (most are not)? When the affair ends (all do), are you going to be willing to work on that relationship as much as your current primary relationship (all relationships require work)? Would you want to engage in couple therapy if you knew your partner was involved in an affair? If after answering these questions you are still wanting to continue an affair, I encourage you not to pursue couple therapy at this time... instead pursue Discernment Counseling or individual format therapy instead to explore what is happening for you. You deserve to have space to explore your wants and needs, and how your circumstance is supporting or thwarting your values and goals. Couple therapy is not the best place to explore this when an affair is active.
6. "What if I'm not ready to tell my partner about any affair I've had that has been ended?" - Similar to the above: What sort of relationship do you want with your partner? One where you have to hide aspects of your life and live with anxiety about your affairs for fear that your partner cannot accept you, or one where you can be open and honest about your self and your life? Disclosure and discovery of an affair (no matter how recent or historical) is painful and usually traumatic for the partner who has been betrayed, often painful and guilt & shame-inducing for the involved partner. Affair recovery takes dedicated, supported, hard work to repair & recover... it is a big deal, and is scary and painful. And it is possible with sufficient motivation on behalf of both partners, and with sufficient support on behalf of the therapist and supporters of the marriage. Only you can know what is right for you ultimately about disclosure. If you are in conflict about this, I recommend you seek individual format counseling/therapy. If you disclose your affair to me while I am acting as your couple therapist, I will not continue to work with a couple while holding secrets between partners (you would have to disclose or explain why the therapy is terminating).
7. "My partner is not ready to come to couple therapy yet. Can I or he/she/they start seeing you individually first, and then begin couple therapy?" - When I see couples, I do have individual sessions for assessment and stabilization purposes, but when one partner is ambivalent or resistant from the start, it's more complicated. It matters that you both understand that as a couple therapist, your relationship is "the client," and my loyalty is to your relationship being healthy, honest and open, and I will not take sides of individual partners. All that being said, I recommend you and/or your partner seek individual therapy or discernment counseling first with someone other than who you want to be your couple therapist, and re-explore couple therapy later when you are both ready, willing and able to attend... it's just less complicated.
8. "How do you provide marriage and family therapy, but aren't a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?" - Despite the specificity in the professional title, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists ('LMFTs') are not the only professionals who are licensed to provide marriage/couple and family therapy. Licensed Clinical Social Workers are also licensed to provide couple/marriage and family therapy (in fact, some of the founders and key innovators of the "Marriage and Family Therapy" profession were Clinical Social Workers: Virginia Satir, Insoo Kim Berg, Michael White, to name a few!). LMFTs, LCSWs, LMHCs, Licensed Psychologists and others listed above are all licensed to provide marriage and family therapy, and it may be more important to ask providers about what "couples therapy specific training and supervision" they have had (i.e. formal training and/or certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman Method, IBCT, etc.). The only reason I haven't sought out the LMFT license is because I do not require a second government issued license (although I have considered this so that I can become a AAMFT Supervisor for MFT practitioners-in-training... perhaps one day).
This list is always being updated... feel free to ask me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org