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FAQs

  • What is an appropriate reason to bring my child to therapy?

    Parents and children come to see Dr. Cohen at various times in their lives for different reasons, including:

    • Having received concerning feedback about their child’s behavior or emotional responses from a credible source such as the child’s siblings, friends, extended family members, coaches, or teachers.
    • Parents’ concerns about changes they have observed in their child’s day-to-day social-emotional–behavior and they aren’t sure how best to respond.
    • Children displaying behavioral changes or developmental delays such as:
      • changes in behavior or academic performance at school; difficulty following school routines; or asked to leave a school program related to behavior
      • unexplainable irritability, agitation, or emotional swings
      • excessive or chronic non-compliance to adult directives, for example, stalling or attempting to avoid compliance through incessant negotiations or pretending not to hear
      • defiant, disrespectful, or aggressive behavior or attitude, including hurting animals, playing too hard with others, or using inappropriate language
      • poor impulse control, difficulty with transitions or unanticipated changes in daily routines, demonstrating recurring emotional reactivity and the inability to self soothe or calm down
      • engaging in unsafe behavior; e.g.,  bolting, spitting at others, playing with fire, playing with excrement, self-injurious behavior, or property destruction
      • engaging in “negative” behaviors (presumably to obtain attention;) e.g., a dramatic response to a stubbed toe or a simple medical intervention, regularly interrupting others’ conversations, inappropriate exaggeration of bodily functions, or acting as the class clown
      • behavioral regression, a youth’s previously demonstrated skills appear to have been forgotten; e.g., frequent toileting accidents, inability to dress themselves, disregard of house rules, lapse of personal hygiene
      • changes in eating or sleeping patterns, changes in energy level
      • inability to make close friends, poor social skills, provocative behavior resulting in reactive aggression from others, being teased, bullied, frequent withdrawal or social isolation
      • unexplained fears or phobias, excessive clinginess, school refusal, highly or chronic anxious behavior
      • loss of interest in activities that the child previously enjoyed
    • Anticipation of a significant life changing event, whether perceived as negative or positive, and parents are uncertain how to address or prepare their youth. Examples include:
      • marriage, separation, reunification, or divorce
      • adoption or birth of a sibling
      • blending of families
      • extended work travel, including parent deployment
      • loss related to the passing of a close family member, or a sibling
      • significant illness, disability, or severe traumatic experience within the family or close friends
      • residence relocation that disrupts the family’s access to their child’s friends and social support, and a change in school
      • family member changes in gender identity or public pronouncements of sexual orientation
    • A child is demonstrating new concerning behaviors, emotional displays, or regressive skills and parents are wondering if it is “just a phase.” A positive response to the following questions affirms an appropriate time to schedule a consultation.
      • Is it possible that something has triggered this change in my child’s behavior that I have missed?
      • Have I lost track of how long it’s been since I initially noticed the change in my child’s presentation?
      • Are these maladaptive behaviors creating problems for my child, the rest of the family, or anyone else?
  • Since research has repeatedly demonstrated that the most important factor in therapy is the client-therapist relationship, how do I determine whether a therapist is a good-fit for my family?
    • You feel comfortable talking with the therapist and sharing sensitive information.
    • Your child might need some time to warm up to the situation, but eventually your child relaxes and feels comfortable.
    • The therapist demonstrates an understanding of your child and the complexities of your family’s situation.
    • You have a high degree of confidence in your therapist’s education, experience, knowledge and skill set.
    • The therapist provides clear explanations and helpful solutions.
    • The office environment is comfortable, child friendly, and conducive to safely occupying your child.
    • Interactions with the therapist reveal a patient, respectful, trustworthy, and reasonably available professional.
  • How is therapy structured so that both the parent(s) and youth have your attention?
    • We begin to develop a treatment plan early in therapy. If possible, for younger children, the initial session may be conducted with only the child’s parent(s)/ caregiver(s). This gives the adults an opportunity to discuss the child’s circumstances in depth; avoiding talking about them, in front of them.
    • Depending on the youth’s level of maturity, we discuss whether or not to include tweens or adolescents in the initial session to begin establishing trust and team work through transparency. Validating the input of older youth is essential to the outcome of therapy.
    • Treatment is individualized according to  individual families’ needs. Parents and children may meet in session together or split the session time with Dr. Cohen. Parent/adult only sessions are often helpful and are provided as needed. Accommodations are made for families who are co-parenting and sharing custody.
    • Parent Child Intervention Therapy (PCIT) involves the child and parent interacting throughout the session while the therapist coaches the parent from outside the room. Please see PCIT Services for more specifics.
  • How often will my child and family meet for therapy appointments?
    • As no two families are the same Dr. Cohen conducts an initial assessment to determine the treatment schedule that works best for each family.
    • Therapy is typically most effective when  meetings are held at least weekly, especially in the beginning of treatment. Consistency of sessions supports the establishment of an optimal working relationship, identification of therapy goals, and the acquisition of new skills. Skill development requires time for consistent practice, and integration of regular feedback to assure effective application.
    • Life includes surprises and unexpected events, so when the need arises, Dr. Cohen is open to scheduling face-to-face sessions in  between regularly scheduled appointments.
    • As your understanding of your child and your comfort level with your new skills and interventions improve,  Dr. Cohen will likely suggest meeting less frequently when the family is approaching completion of their treatment goals.
  • How long before I see enduring change in my child?
    • Treatment duration varies pending multiple factors including:
      • the duration and nature of a youth and family’s goals and challenges
      • the consistency and frequency of the youth and family’s participation in their therapeutic appointments and assignments
      • the family’s ability to commit to practice the effective use of newly learned skills
    • Stable and internalized changes in behavior take time; however, many children begin displaying desirable behavior change early in the treatment process.
    • Dr. Cohen is open to discussing treatment recommendations and anticipated expectations for behavior change goals during your initial assessment.
  • How do I prepare my child for our first appointment?

    This is an excellent and important question. To begin with consider the age of your child and the reasons your family is seeking therapy.

    • Use developmentally appropriate language, avoiding concepts that focus on negative behavior, for example “because you were bad at school,” or “because you have a bad attitude.” Younger children, ages 2-9, often fear something painful, like going to the hospital, getting a shot, or seeing “the doctor,” so focus your explanation on what you hope to accomplish in therapy. Older youth, tweens – adolescents, want to understand the therapy process. Examples follow:
      • “We are going to see Dr. Lisa, and she is going to help us learn how to play better together.” (very young children, approximately 2-3 years)
      • “Dr. Lisa is a therapist. Therapists are ‘talking doctors’ and there are no shots or medicine involved. She is going to help us figure out how to get better at talking and listening to each other, and how we can have more fun together.” (young children, approximately 4-7 years)
      • “Dr. Lisa wants to get to know you and me, and (other family members.) Her job is to help parents figure out how to be better at helping their child when he is feeling sad or mad, having a hard time controlling his body, doesn’t want to go to school, etc.” (children 7 – 9 years)
      • If your teen’s tension or area of concern is within your family, your youth may be concerned about alliances, for example, “the adults are going to be ganging up against me.” You can validate her concerns by reassuring her, “Our intention is to learn how to be better parents and how we can improve our relationship with you.” (tweens – adolescents)
      • Your teen also might feel uncomfortable if other people found out that he was going to therapy. You can assure him that there is confidentiality between clients, and between clients and the therapist; it is a requirement of therapy. To minimize his concerns, you might try thinking out loud with him, for example ask “who else really needs to know that you are going to therapy?” Recognizing that few people, if any, really need to know, will support his desire for privacy. (tweens – adolescents)
    • If you are unsure how to answer any of your child’s questions, write them down in their presence and let your child know that you will ask Dr. Lisa at our appointment. Documenting their questions models for your child that their questions are important and, even as an adult, it is acceptable to NOT know everything.
  • Do you work with older children and adults?
    • Yes, Dr. Cohen works with all ages.  Dr. Cohen’s practice focuses on the concerns, needs and challenges related to being a child, part of a family, and parenting.
    • Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is generally used with children ages two thru eight years, and includes at least one parent/caregiver who participates in all of the PCIT sessions.
    • Individual therapy sessions with adults, caregivers and parents could address:
      • parenting and behavioral management skills
      • blending of families
      • adoption and/or the coming of a new birth sibling
      • personal issues impacting family relationships
      • education about the psychological implications of various life events on children
      • transitioning to parenthood and/or reunification of parent and child
  • What is the purpose of the 55-minute Complimentary Consultation?

    This complimentary consultation is an opportunity to become acquainted with Dr. Cohen as a therapist. Sharing your concerns, having your questions answered, and perhaps gaining insight and direction will provide you with clarity and relief. This is a valuable first step toward your goal of identifying a qualified and trustworthy professional.

    Please click here to schedule your 55-minute Complimentary Consultation.

  • Do you accept insurance, how much will therapy cost?

    I operate independent of most insurance companies; however, I will work with you so you get the most from your insurance benefits. See the options that follow to determine what might work for you.

    • If your PPO health insurance authorizes the use of Out-of-Network providers, I can provide you with a receipt, aka superbill, documenting payment of your treatment, which you would submit to your health insurance provider for reimbursement.
    • To determine if using an Out-of-Network therapist is an option within your policy, please contact your insurance company and ask the following questions:
      • Does my insurance policy maintain separate deductibles for Out-of-Network mental health providers? If so, what is my Out-of-Network mental health deductible?
      • What percentage of the Out-of-Network provider service fee will be reimbursed for my mental health services?
      • What is the process for obtaining reimbursement? Where do I submit the superbill?
      • Is there a limit on the annual number of sessions covered for mental health services?
      • Can you provide documentation that explains which diagnoses for children are reimbursed and if there are service exclusions related to any of the diagnoses?
    • I accept reimbursement from California Victims of Crime Compensation. At the beginning of therapy, please present written confirmation that you have been accepted into the program, assigned a record number and the dollar amount of service that has been approved. Please bring billing information for any other health insurance your child and family maybe covered under.
    • Private pay is when you pay for your services directly, typically $175 per 50-minute session. Private pay allows me to work with your child and family without having to share any diagnoses.Your child’s information will not be sent to a third-party insurance company.
    • Health Spending Accounts (HSA), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA): You may choose to pay using your employee HSA/FSA/HRA. Services are tax-free and there is no requirement to submit your child’s documented diagnosis for you to receive reimbursement. Please check with your HSA/FSA/HRA company to confirm mental health therapy is an eligible service.
    • Single Case Agreements are often approved by insurance companies for therapists who are not paneled providers, so long as they provide “a specialized treatment” that is not otherwise available to you through a provider on your insurance plan. I specialize in providing mental health and behavioral therapy to very young children, including using Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). What makes PCIT a specialized treatment is that it is curriculum driven and evidence based. Furthermore, PCIT actively addresses the parent-child dyad in-the-moment, identifying and shaping parenting skills specific to the unique needs of the child.  I can help you prepare for a conversation with your insurance provider to make this request.
    • For clients that demonstrate a financial limitation I will consider available sliding scale opportunities. I believe in the availability of quality psychological services for everyone, including full time students.
  • What forms of payment are accepted?

    Payment is due at the time of service, unless another prepaid arrangement has been made. The following payment options are accepted:

    • Cash
    • Check
    • Credit Card
    • HSA/FSA /HRA Debit Card
  • What if I still don't know if it is the right time to begin therapy?
    • Mixed feelings (two-way feelings as Dr. Cohen refers to them with young children) are common when initially considering treatment. Most people simultaneously experience feelings of eagerness and uncertainty when they think about beginning therapy.
    • In order to determine if this is a good time to begin therapy, think about how things have been recently with your child and family. Next, ask yourself, and be honest, if things continue as they have been, how will life for my family be in 6 months or a year? How does that future feel to me?
    • Next step: envision where you want your family to be in one year. If it were possible for you to create this future, what would have to change? What would be different with your family? Imagine you are living your vision right now…How do you feel as you consider that possibility?
    • Now choose.
      • If you want your life to continue on as is, do nothing.
      • On the other hand, if envisioning change felt good and you want to move in that direction, then take the next step.
    • Schedule your 55-minute Complimentary Consultation. Dr. Cohen will discuss with you the changes you hope to achieve, your desired treatment outcomes, and how you and she would work together.
    • Remember…
      • your child’s psychological development is the most important factor in preparing them for a successful life. You don’t want them developing habits (social and/or emotional) that limit them.
      • by taking action and addressing your concerns now, you shorten the period of stress for everyone involved.
      • early intervention is preferable, because the younger the brain the more malleable it is. When change occurs faster and easier, it shortens the length of therapy. Most importantly, everyone will feel better sooner!
      • by following your inner prompting, your intuition, and obtaining a consultation, you and your family will have one less worry.

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