Frequently Asked Questions
*Please note I will employ the word parent/s for ease of use here and throughout the website. But, please know that I also mean guardian/s, caretaker/s, etc.
How do I know if I should seek help for my child's anxiety?
There are several questions that are helpful in determining the answer to this question: How much distress is the anxiety causing your child and/or family? Is the anxiety negatively impacting your child's life? At home? At school? In general? Is the anxiety causing problems that your child's peers don't seem to be having?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then it could be time to consider seeking help. Also, see the Home page and/or the various specialty pages for more questions you might want to consider.
Who do you serve?
I serve preschool, elementary school, and tween-aged anxious children and their parents. But, once I treat a child, they are always welcome to come back for booster visits, no matter their age. Depending on the issue, if your child is less than five, it is usually more helpful to work just with the parent/s in the form of parent consults.
If you do not live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can see parents for a consult via video anywhere in the state of California. If you are interested in this type of service, please email me through my Contact page.
You use a family-oriented approach--exactly what do you mean by that?
By a family-oriented approach, I mean that the parent/s are fully involved in the therapy. And by fully involved I mean parent/s are most often in the room with their child. And if they are not in the room, they are nearby, so they can be called back in at any moment. There are exceptions, but this is generally how I work.
The success of treatment is contingent on the child and parent/s actively working together both inside and outside of my office. Anxiety treatment requires time, energy, and consistency on the part of both the child and the parent/s—it is an active, experiential process.
Do parents meet with you first?
Yes. This gives us a chance to meet, ask each other questions, and to discuss your child before he or she comes in.
Should all parents attend?
Yes, I highly recommend that all parents attend the initial parent and the initial family session. Treatment success is much more likely if everyone is on the same page, working together as a team.
Why do you use a family approach to therapy?
My approach is family oriented because anxiety can often grab a hold of the whole family in one way or the other. During treatment, we will explore how this comes about and what we can do about it.
Also, many parents of anxious children are anxious themselves. So, a family approach will give anxious parents the opportunity to absorb the skills right alongside of their child. The strategies will be framed in a fun and child-friendly way, but the same strategies are helpful no matter the age.
And perhaps most important, learning the skills inside-out is important for any parent, anxious or not, as parents will be coaching their child between sessions.
Besides using a family-based approach, how do you work?
My style is energetic, concrete, active, and direct. I use cognitive-behavioral, solution and skill-based strategies, which include Exposure Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention (see below). And I focus on the how rather than the why. See my blog post 5 Ways Child Anxiety Treatment Should Be Like Piano Lessons.
Are there any children/families for whom you would not recommend your style of anxiety treatment?
I would not recommend a family start anxiety treatment if they don’t currently have the time or energy to do work outside of session. Anxiety treatment is an active process that only works if you work it.
My style of treatment probably would not benefit a highly chaotic or high conflict family. Families with these characteristics would benefit most from treatment that first addressed those issues. Once these issues were addressed, then the family could come in for anxiety treatment.
Also, a child who is actively experiencing trauma would be better served by a more trauma informed therapy.
Do you do free initial consults?
No, I do not. I have personally designed this website and written every word on it. So, if you go through my website, you can gain a good idea of how I work and who I serve. I prefer to devote my time and energy to my existing clients. However, if you have a question that is not answered, please feel free to send me a message via my Contact page.
How do I schedule a first appointment?
It's easy…you can schedule an appointment using our secure/HIPPA compliant online appointment scheduler, which can be found on the Contact page.
Select Initial Parent Session. You will be able to choose from available appointment times and will be asked to provide your name, phone number, email address, payment information.
If you have any questions, you can use the secure contact form on the Contact page. I usually can't get back to you immediately but will respond as soon as I can.
*It is not possible to schedule an appointment with the online appointment scheduler less than 48 hours in advance. And I do not schedule appointments less than 48 hours in advance via other means either.
What will happen after I schedule the first appointment?
After scheduling your first appointment, once I have had the chance to approve it, you will receive an email confirmation, which will include instructions for how to log-in to the secure client portal. (So, depending on my schedule, and when you book, the time you receive the email can vary).
Once you log-in to the portal, you will be able to review and complete my practice documents. Reviewing and completing the documents before our appointment means that we don't have to use any of our valuable appointment time filling out paperwork. And I will have the opportunity to review the documents before our first appointment.
If you have any questions about any of the documents, please don't hesitate to Contact me.
How long is each session?
A typical session is 50 minutes.
If we do in-session exposures (see exposure question below), appointments could potentially run longer, depending upon location and what we are doing. In most situations, however, your child can do exposures between sessions independently and with you.
Do we meet every week?
I see kids weekly. But, as your child progresses, our visits can be stretched out. If we all work together, progress can often come quickly. And your child is welcome to come back for a booster visit, if down the road, he or she needs a refresher. The most important factor in how long treatment lasts is putting into action outside of session what you have learned in session.
How much do the services cost?
Please see the Services page for this information.
What payments do you accept?
I accept major credit cards through our secure HIPPA compliant portal. When you first book an appointment, you will be asked to submit your payment information. And your payment will be processed on the day of our appointment.
Does insurance cover any of your services?
I do not currently accept any insurance. Some insurance companies do, however, allow for out of network services. You would need to verify that your insurance company will allow for this in the treatment of your child’s anxiety. My one and only role in the process would be to provide you with what is known as a “superbill”. A superbill is a simple document that verifies the service/s rendered. (I would be required to provide an official diagnosis on the superbill.). After the service is rendered, you submit the superbill to your insurance company for reimbursement in whatever way they have asked you to do so.
If you do go this route, I would need to be paid in my customary way on the day of the service.
Also, there is a service called Better that will do all the work for you, including the initial verification But, they will charge 10% of any reimbursement you do get. If there’s no reimbursement, then the service is free. If you are interested in finding out more about that service, you can click on the link above. I do not have any personal or financial association with them. They are, however, known as a reputable service. So, I wanted to let you know about them in case you would find such a service helpful.
What if I forget the appointment, or need to cancel?
If you need to cancel, I require notification of at least 24 hours in advance. Otherwise your credit card will be billed on the day of your appointment because I reserve the time just for you.
With your consent, before each appointment, I will send you an appointment reminder via text, email, or voice mail (or a combination). You can indicate your preference on the intake documents that you initially complete in our secure portal.
What if we arrive late for our appointment?
If you arrive late, your appointment will be shorter because we will always need to honor the scheduled ending time regardless of when you arrive. So, make sure you allow yourself sufficient time to arrive and park.
Is parking available at your office?
There is no onsite parking. But there are both metered and free spaces around the area. Metered parking in the area is $2.25/hour and most are free beginning at 6:00 PM.
In addition, the 38 and the 44 bus lines have stops on the corner of 6th Ave. and Geary. The office is located on Geary Blvd. between 6th and 7th Ave. Please see Contact page for a Google map of our location.
Do you make recommendations to the court for child custody?
I do not make court recommendations. If you are interested in those kinds of services, please select a different therapist that specializes in doing that.
I have joint custody of my child, will my ex-spouse need to participate in my child's therapy?
In cases of divorced parents, I am legally mandated to receive a copy of your child's custody agreement. If you share custody, I will need signed permission from both you and the other parent in order for your child to receive services, even when the court has given permission for the child to receive therapy.
If both you and the other parent agree to services, it would be beneficial for your child if both parents were involved in the treatment.
What if my relationship with my child's other parent is hostile?
If there is a hostile relationship between you and your child's other parent, that will get in the way of treatment. If your child is already in treatment with me, and the hostility is compromising the treatment, I will first discuss my concerns with both parents and try to resolve the issue.
However, if the issue cannot be resolved, I can refer you to another therapist or another type of service to better serve your family's current needs. This is because anxiety treatment is far less effective under these circumstances.
What is Exposure Therapy?
This is an essential part of any anxiety treatment. Exposure therapy is just a fancy way of saying that your child practices doing the things that trigger his or her anxiety. First, your child will be equipped with strategies. And then we will work collaboratively in coming up with exposures.
If for example, a child is afraid of dogs, he or she will need to practice being around dogs. Avoiding the feared situation/s causes a child's anxiety to grow. Our brains learn by doing. It is by doing that new brain pathways are created and reinforced.
Exposure can take place during session in or outside of the office with therapist. But, most of the time, it can be done by you and/or your child outside of therapy in between sessions. In this case, we will prepare and plan for the exposure and then review how it went during our next visit.
What is ERP treatment?
ERP stands for Exposure and Response Prevention (also known as Exposure and Ritual Prevention). In ERP, the child is exposed to a situation, object, image, or thought that triggers their anxiety or OCD.
But then instead of responding in a way that maintains the existing pattern, the goal is for the child to respond in a different way that interrupts his or her normal pattern.
In both Exposure and ERP, anxiety will initially spike as the child pushes him or herself out of their comfort zone. But, with continued practice, it will get easier.
Will you work with my child's school?
If your child's anxiety is affecting his or her attendance, academics, and/or social interactions at school, it could be beneficial for me to work with the school in some capacity. See Services page for information about school services
If you decide to include some type of school service in your child's treatment, I will need a signed release, which authorizes me to visit or communicate with the school.
How long will my child need therapy?
This varies depending on a variety of factors, such as the child's personality and motivation, level of family support, and the duration and nature of the issue. Studies have shown that the children who respond most positively to anxiety treatment are those whose families minimize accommodation of the anxiety, are cohesive, and are working together in treatment.
I hope this FAQ page has been helpful in answering most questions you might have. But, if you have read all of the questions and your question has still not been answered, please don't hesitate to Contact me.
Helping Anxious Kids is here to support your family. If you are seeking anxiety treatment for your child and my approach resonates with you, schedule an appointment today.