Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect in the initial appointment?
When we meet for the first time, I conduct an intake interview. This is the beginning of my information gathering process. I will be asking some factual questions (name, age, address, etc.), some questions about your physical health, and about your family history. You will have ample opportunity to begin talking about why you decided to seek therapy at this time and we will begin to formulate some goals for your treatment plan. This is also an opportunity for us to get a sense of what it is like for us to work together. If, at the end of the first session, we decide for any reason that your needs would be better served by someone else, I will do my best to provide you with referrals to meet those needs.
How long will it take?
It is not possible to answer this question accurately since the length of treatment varies from individual to individual. After I learn more about the issues you would like to work on, I might be able to provide you with some idea of how long we might be working together. Usually weekly sessions work best initially, unless there is a crisis or extreme distress. Ultimately it depends on the motivation of the clients, if you are coming to work on one specific goal and accomplish that goal, then you may end up terminating treatment at that time. Clients may call for an occasional "spot" session after initially meeting their goals.
What can I expect in a therapy session?
During sessions you are expected to talk about the primary concerns and issues in your life. A session lasts 50 minutes, but some people request longer sessions. Usually weekly sessions are best. Some people who are in crisis or extreme distress need more than one session per week, at least until the crisis passes. During the time between sessions it is beneficial to think about and process what was discussed. At times, you may be asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records. For therapy to "work," you must be an active participant, both in and outside of the therapy sessions.
What benefits can I expect from working with a therapist?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands. Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. Many people find therapy to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
Developing skills and tools for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improving communications skills - learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you
Getting "unstuck" from unhealthy patterns - breaking old behaviors & develop new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
What if I don't know what my goals are for therapy?
If you aren't sure what your goals are for therapy, our first task is to figure that out. It may take a few sessions before a direction is revealed. During the course of therapy, as you evolve, your goals may change. When this occurs it is a great opportunity for you to employ some of the new skills and techniques you have learned during the treatment process. A collaborative approach will be taken to assist you as you navigate through these challenges, promoting a move toward independence.
What if I need medication?
Sometimes medication combined with psychotherapy is part of the treatment plan. Only Psychiatrists and MD's are licensed to prescribe medication. I do, however maintain a close working relationship with a variety of psychiatrists who are knowledgeable, ethical and compassionate, and I will match you up based on your needs, personalities, location, etc. If at any point you or I feel that a medication evaluation might be helpful, I would recommend that you make an appointment for an evaluation, however the final choice is always yours.
What does L.C.S.W. stand for?
LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. LCSW's are required to obtain a Master's level degree, complete 3200 hours of training, and pass rigorous testing prior to becoming licensed. They are qualified to conduct several types of counseling and psychotherapy.
What does Psy.D. stand for?
Psy.D. stands for Doctorate of Clinical Psychology. The emphasis of their training is on clinical work and focuses less heavily on research. People who possess this degree have completed a doctoral program in the field of clinical psychology and have completed either a Case Study or Doctoral Dissertation which has been approved by the advisory board of the institution they attended.
How can I check license status?
To check the license status of any LCSW, you can go to http://www.bbs.ca.gov, the website for the Board of Behavioral Sciences, a California consumer protection agency governing several types of licensed mental health professionals.
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Amy Levine Clayton, Psy.D., LCSW, is an Encino therapist, providing individual, marriage, couples, and family therapy for over fifteen years to residents of Encino and surrounding communities in the San Fernando Valley including, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Granada Hills, Northridge, Calabasas West Hills, Los Angeles and Valley Village