FAQs

How can therapy help me?

A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that therapists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. 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, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress, trauma and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my own problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. Just the fact that you are on my website shows that you have enough self-awareness to realize that you may need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. By seeking therapy, you are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help them with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term for a specific issue, or longer-term to change with more difficult patterns to achieve personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly). Be aware that therapy is a process and not a “quick fix”, therefore there may be times when you feel a little worse before you feel better. This is expected and part of the healing process.

It is also important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, I may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Depending on your situation, you and I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of medication. Many clients are treated without medication. Some disorders, however, respond better to a combination of medication and therapy. If you are on medication, or would like to be on medication, you and I will discuss whether you should have a psychiatric consultation with a specialist (a psychiatrist) to ensure that you are on the right kind and dosage of medication. If you are not on medication and do not want to be on medication, you and I might assess, after four to six weeks, how much you’ve progressed and determine whether you might want a psychiatric consultation at that time to obtain more information about medication. Thankfully I work in a suite where there are two psychiatrists available who I can refer you to (if you choose), which makes it easier for all of us to work as a team.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

My practice is fee-for-service. I do not take insurance, as I find that it interferes with providing optimal care (limited authorized sessions, lack of confidentiality, not all diagnoses are covered, etc.). However, if you have a PPO, I will gladly provide you a super bill or submit a claim on your behalf so that you will get reimbursed by your insurance company (click on Rates & Insurance for detailed information). I will discuss my fee directly with you during our initial phone consultation. In the event that I am unable to accommodate your financial needs, I will assist you by providing you with some appropriate referrals.

Out of Network Insurance Benefits

Should you wish to obtain reimbursement through your insurance company, I am happy to provide you with a statement (i.e., superbill) you can file with your insurance company for your personal reimbursement. Or if you prefer, I can submit a claim to your insurance company on your behalf for reimbursement. Please check with your insurance company to see if this benefit is provided. Most PPOs provide this service but many HMOs do not.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. I will provide you a written copy of my confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want me to share information (parent, partner) or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person. The confidential disclosure agreement that I will be providing you will explain this in greater detail.

If you are a teen, under the age of 18, I will tell your parents that it’s important that you feel safe with me, therefore, I will not share any information with them.

However, as I am sure you will understand, if you are in danger in any way – to yourself or by someone else – I will inform your parents so that they can protect you. In addition, if I feel that it is in your best interest that you share something with them, I will usually hold a family session so that you can present the information in a safe and controlled environment.

How frequently do we meet and how long are the sessions?

In general, meetings are scheduled for 50 minutes (one appointment hour of 50 minutes duration) on a weekly basis, at a time that is mutually agreed upon. Depending on the situation, meetings may be longer or more frequent. When you feel more confident and are ready to finish treatment and go into the “real world” without my support, we can tailor the sessions to every two weeks. Some clients like to then come in monthly or on an “as needed” basis for “booster” sessions. When you come in for your initial evaluation, we can decide together if weekly or biweekly appointments are best for you.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist?

A psychiatrist attends medical school for about four years and after earning their MD, they go on to four years of residency training in mental health, typically at a hospital’s psychiatric department. After completing their residency, these physicians can be licensed to practice psychiatry, which means they can prescribe medications for psychiatric disorders.

A psychologist attends graduate school and has a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD) in psychology, which is the study of the mind and behaviors. It usually takes about 5-7 years to achieve a doctorate degree, with additional one or two years of internship before becoming licensed. Licensed psychologists are qualified to do psychotherapy, perform psychological testing, and provide treatment for mental disorders. They are not, though, medical doctors, thus they cannot write prescriptions or perform medical procedures.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) attend graduate school for about two to three years and receive a Masters degree. In order to be licensed, the professional therapist needs two additional years of experience working with a qualified mental health professional after graduate school. Training is different between an LCSW and LMFT but both are qualified to evaluate and treat mental problems by providing counseling or psychotherapy.

All three disciplines – psychologist, LCSW and LMFT – can provide therapy, therefore all three are considered therapist. However, only a therapist with a doctoral degree in psychology can be called a psychologist.

What is the difference between a PhD and PsyD?

The PsyD (Doctorate in Psychology) is intended to prepare graduates for careers as practicing psychologists. The PsyD offers a great deal of training in assessment, diagnosis and therapeutic techniques, with many hours of doing therapy with a clinical supervisor.

There is less of an emphasis on research than in PhD programs although they must be familiar with research methodology, being able to apply research findings to their applied work. PsyD graduates tend to work in mental health centers and private practice.

The PhD (Doctorate in Philosophy) programs in clinical psychology focus on scientific training first, emphasizing the teaching of conducting empirical research studies, and applying the results of these studies to clinical practice. As such, most PhD graduates are trained as scientist-practitioners, and tend to work in a university setting, conducting research and teaching. They usually have significantly less supervised therapy training than a PsyD student.

However, both degrees can intersect as many psychologists with a PsyD teach and conduct research at a university setting, and many psychologists with a PhD provide psychotherapy.

How do I get started?

You can request an appointment through this site, or just give me a call or text me at 661-432-1194 and leave your name and telephone number. I will return your call or text within the next 48 hours between the hours of 8-5. At that time, we can schedule a 20-minute phone consultation in which you may ask any questions you wish and give me a brief description of your situation. We may also schedule a mutually convenient appointment if you would like to proceed further with therapy. If we both feel that I may not be a good fit, I will refer you to a therapist who would best meet your needs.

What if I need to cancel or reschedule and appointment?

Once an appointment hour is scheduled, it is reserved for you. You will be expected to pay for that session unless you provide 24 hours advance notice of cancellation [unless you and I agree that you were unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control]. If it is possible, I will try to find another time that same week to reschedule the appointment.



28494 Westinghouse Place Suite 314
Valencia, CA 91355

dr.sandra.santana@gmail.com
(661) 432-1194

Got Questions?
Send a Message!