Frequently Asked Questions
Don't see your question answered here? Email Dr. Gottfried for a direct response. If your question becomes a common one, he'll also post it here (generically, of course). Please remember that email is not a secure medium so confidentiality cannot be assured.
How do I know if therapy is right for me?
We live in a culture where we are often told that we should be able to handle problems by ourselves. Men in particular are given this message. Yet many people suffer, often in private, often with shame, and often unnecessarily. Studies suggest that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and worldwide and that about 9.5 % of American adults suffer from depression in a given year and about 1 in 5 women will have depression in their lifetime (See NIMH). Anxiety disorders occur in 18 % of American adults. (see NIMH). Research suggests that people who utilize psychotherapy fare better than those that do not whether or not medication is also used. Seeking psychological help can significantly shorten the time you are struggling with these issues. ( APA Press Release on Consumer Reports Survey, APA Meta-analysis)
Because of how men and women are raised differently, men often have additional obstacles to maintaining their mental health. "Most men are trained from earliest childhood to suppress emotional distress, avoid the subtle signals of interpersonal conflicts, experience humiliation at the first hint of failure, and most of all, resist asking for help. They deny and avoid their psychological pain and want to take action rather than be reflective. Is it any wonder that men view therapy as shameful and alienating?" (from the inside flap) (see Gary Brooks, A New Psychotherapy for Traditional Men). It just isn't what they are they are raised to do. Yet most men have issues they are struggling with on the inside such as anger, depression, emotional isolation, shame, anxiety, substance abuse, control issues and sexual dysfunction or compulsion.
So how does one know when to see a therapist? People tend to seek help when 1) their usual way of coping is no longer working or is overwhelmed by what is going on in their life and 2) when they feel stuck in improving their situation or seeing it clearly. I am sometimes asked by clients if their problem is serious enough to see a therapist. If it can be helpful to you in improving your life, it's worthwhile to consider it. Therapy isn't a mysterious process. It's really about consulting with someone else on identifying what you want to change, figuring out together how to change it, and dealing with all the obstacles to changing it that are there.
If you specialize in working with men, do you also work with women?
Absolutely. In fact, prior to entering private practice, the majority of my clients were women because women are often more open to counseling (see above) than men. In addition to choosing a therapist who seems competent, skilled, and one you feel comfortable with, the therapist’s gender is sometimes a consideration for clients. Depending on the issues you want to work on, there may be very good reasons to prefer working with a male or a female therapist. Many women have issues that stem from their relationships with men in their past and working with a male therapist offers them an opportunity to have a healthy, hopefully corrective, therapeutic relationship with a male.
I don’t see you on my insurance panel. Will I be able to use my insurance if I see you?
The short answer to this question is “usually.” Many insurance plans provide benefits for out of network services and a little more than half my clients use their health insurance to pay for their sessions.
I set up my practice very intentionally and thoughtfully. My concerns about using insurance center on issues of (1) confidentiality, and (2) making decisions about how to address your concerns.
(1) If a client of mine wants to use their insurance (many do, understandably), I give them a statement that they can submit to their insurance company. Thus, the client is in charge of what information is released to insurance companies and what is not. While insurance companies claim to keep all information confidential, once information leaves my office I cannot guarantee that it will be held in confidence. My clients are in charge of what confidential information is released to insurance companies.
(2) My practice is structured so it is clear that I work for my clients, not for insurance companies. My clients and I make decisions together about what path we should take for them to reach their goals. Additionally, clients are in a better position than I to advocate for benefits from their insurance company because they are the purchaser of their policy.
If you have an HMO that does not cover services outside their network, you will not be covered and you may need a referral from your primary physician and/or preauthorization to see someone on your HMO's provider panel.
As a man, I am unsure of the idea of therapy. How could talking possibly help me?
Going to therapy is near the last thing on many men's list because it goes against the male code of being self-sufficient, stoic about feelings, avoiding all signs of weakness and vulnerability, and asking for help. These are big obstacles to consulting with a psychotherapist. However, once men start their consultation with a psychotherapist, they often realize that doing so helps them feel more confident in their abilities to manage their life and work through whatever was getting in their way, which allows them to feel more relaxed and competent.