Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding How Psychotherapy Works & How I May Help

Deciding to start therapy is a big decision, and a lot of people don’t know where to start. Many people ask me questions about psychotherapy and how they get started, so I have put together a list of some of the most commonly asked questions regarding psychotherapy and choosing the right therapist for you.

My private practice is located in Hermosa Beach, CA, and I see clients from all over the South Bay area. I provide psychotherapy services to adult individuals, adolescents/teens, young adults and couples. By taking a personalized approach to each client, I help affirm their strengths while challenging them to confront those areas of their lives that are impeding their happiness, relationship satisfaction, and overall well-being.

Please read through the questions below if you would like to learn more about psychotherapy in general, my specific approach to therapy, and basic information about my private practice. If you have specific questions regarding therapy, please feel free to contact me or request an appointment.

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, also referred to as counseling or talk therapy, is a general term that is used to describe a process of treating emotional distress, relationship difficulties, or psychological disorders by meeting with and talking to a trained psychotherapist or mental health practitioner. There are a wide range of approaches and techniques that a psychotherapist may use to help a client address specific or general problems contributing to life stress, unhappiness, a decline in mental health, or overall daily functioning and well-being. Regardless of the specific approach used by the psychotherapist, almost all types of therapy involve building a strong therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist, creating a safe space to communicate openly about one’s struggles, and addressing problematic thoughts or maladaptive patterns of behavior or coping mechanisms.

What Are The Benefits of Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy can be a very helpful and effective treatment for a wide range of psychological, emotional, and interpersonal problems. Having a safe and confidential space to voice your worries, explore your struggles, confront difficult topics, and talk openly about your thoughts and feelings can be highly beneficial for individuals dealing with a wide range of issues.

Is Therapy Right For Me?

The specific issues that bring people into therapy are as diverse and distinct as the people themselves. A common misperception is that only “crazy” people go to therapy. The reality is that people seek therapy for all sorts of reasons. You do not have to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in order to benefit from therapy. Individuals may see a therapist to address issues ranging from everyday job stress to difficulty coping with specific life phases or transitions (i.e. empty nest, loss of parents, divorce, pregnancy, etc.). Whether you recently went through a painful break-up, you are struggling to juggle your work and home life, you are feeling chronically sad or anxious, or you just need some extra support, therapy can be very helpful in providing the specific type of support and guidance that you need.

How Is Therapy Different Than Talking To A Friend Or Relative?

Though it can be very helpful to open up to close friends and family members about your struggles or problems, there are times when the people around us aren’t able to provide the type of support that we need. When we need that extra bit of support, psychotherapy is a very good option to consider. Therapists are professionally trained to assist clients in understanding the underlying factors contributing to their presenting concerns, help them overcome emotional or interpersonal problems, and support them as they make positive changes in their lives that promote overall mental health and well-being.

How Can Couples Therapy Help My Relationship?

Intimate relationships bring a lot meaning to our lives, but they are not easy. Couples therapy provides an opportunity for two people to openly confront the problems within their relationship instead of ignoring them and allowing the pain, hurt, or resentment to build. My approach to couples therapy focuses on helping partners explore who they want to be and what they expect of themselves in their relationship – instead of focusing on how to get their partner to change. This means helping both partners develop the capacity to self-confront, self-validate, and self-soothe. When couples leave my office they will inevitably continue to face challenges in their lives and in their relationships. My goal for the couples that I work with is to help them handle these challenges and to provide them with the tools that they need for an enduring and meaningful intimate relationship.

What Leads To Successful Therapy?

One of the most important factors that contribute to a positive therapeutic experience that is both effective and worthwhile is the fit between client and therapist. That is why the first step to successful therapy is finding a therapist who is right for you. By finding a good fit you will be able to get the most out of your experience in therapy. Another important component of getting the most out of your sessions is being an active participant. Unfortunately, your therapist cannot do your work for you. Although they can serve as a helpful listener and guide, ultimately it is up to you to translate increased awareness and understanding into action – proactively implementing change into your daily life and relationships. It is often helpful to think of therapy as a workout where you only can get out as much as you put in. It is a unique opportunity to begin working muscles that you have never used before. Just like working out, this can be exhausting and sometimes painful, but in the end you will emerge stronger, happier, and healthier!

How Do I Find The Right Therapist For Me?

In order to get the most out of your experience in therapy, it is very important to choose the right therapist for you. A “good fit” means finding somebody who you feel comfortable and at ease with. You also want to have a sense that this person can help you address the particular issues you are struggling with. Even the first phone call can help you get a feel for what it would be like to be in the room with this person. When you actually meet with the therapist for the first time, you will want to be aware of whether you sense a connection, feel cared for, listened to, and understood, and take note of your overall sense of ease in the room. Because a good relationship with your therapist is critical to a positive therapeutic experience, you may need to meet with a few therapists in order to find the right one for you!

What Is Your Approach To Therapy?

I believe that the client-therapist relationship provides the foundation for effective therapeutic work to occur. Therefore, my first priority when clients come to see me is to help them determine whether I am a good fit for them and their particular needs. My next step is to create a safe and comfortable environment where my clients can begin exploring those issues that have brought them into therapy. Going beyond simply addressing the immediate symptoms, I help clients explore the underlying issues that are contributing to their current life struggles, emotional distress, or interpersonal problems. Together we look at relationship patterns and ways of thinking that have become a barrier to their happiness and well-being. By helping them develop increased self-awareness and insight and providing them with the tools they need in order to make positive changes in their lives, clients are able to reach their full potential both individually and within their relationships.

How Often Would We Meet?

Therapy typically occurs on a weekly basis. I have found that meeting consistently every week contributes to a stronger therapeutic relationship and enables clients to more effectively address the issues they are struggling with. There are times, however, when it is appropriate to meet more or less frequently based on a client’s current needs.

How Long Is Each Session?

Each therapy session is 50 minutes long.

How Much Does Therapy Cost?

A therapy session costs $200 and is payable by credit card, cash or personal check.

Do You Take Insurance?

I accept PPO health insurance plans as an “out-of-network” provider.

Is Psychotherapy Covered By My Insurance?

It is very helpful to check with your insurance company ahead of time to find out what your coverage is for therapy services with an out-of-network provider. Below are several questions you may want to ask you insurance company about therapy services prior to your first session:

  • Does my insurance plan include mental health insurance benefits?
  • What is my annual deductible, what is its start date, and has it been met yet?
  • How many sessions does my health insurance cover per year?

What Is Dr. Mothner’s Training?

I graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. I then earned my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University (CSPP). As a clinical intern at the USC Counseling Center, I worked with a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students providing short-term individual therapy using a variety of clinical approaches, including short-term psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. As an intern at the Southern California Counseling Center, I worked with a culturally diverse clientele ranging in age from three to seventy, including families and couples. I completed my final pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral training at the Saturday Center for Psychotherapy in Santa Monica. Over the course of this two year training program I provided long-term, insight-oriented psychotherapy to adults, adolescents, and couples. Currently I am pursuing an intensive three-year professional training program with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. Somatic Experiencing (SE™) is a specific approach to working with trauma that relies on the body’s instinctive capacity to heal as the means to regaining a sense of inner balance and control over one’s life that is often lost in the aftermath of trauma. At the end of the training course, which includes 216 hours of direct instruction, 18 hours of case consultation, and 12 hours of personal sessions, I will be a Certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP).

How Do I Start Therapy With You?

Often the most difficult step in starting therapy is picking up the phone and making that initial contact with the therapist. I know that it can be anxiety-producing or uncomfortable to reach out to someone that you have never met, but it is essential to take that leap so that you can begin to get the help or support that you need. Even just talking on the phone with a therapist can be very helpful in determining whether or not you would want to meet with them in person. If you are interested in starting therapy, I strongly encourage you to contact me to see if I might be a good fit for you. The best way to do this is to email me, send me a message through my website, or call me directly at 310-892-2572. Whether it is via email or by phone, I will be able to answer any questions you may have and it will give you the opportunity to determine whether you would like to schedule an appointment with me.

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