Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have a perinatal (occurring during pregnancy through around one year following childbirth) mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) or if it’s the “baby blues”?
First of all, what is a “normal” postpartum experience anyway? Many new parents experience some level of sleep deprivation and feeling tired, overwhelmed, irritable, crying, feeling not like yourself, worry, difficulty bonding with baby, and more. The main differences lie in the frequency, intensity, severity and persistence of symptoms, their effect on your daily life (are you still able to complete normal daily tasks such as eating, sleeping, showering, and connecting with others in a relatively usual way for you?), and how you feel that you are adjusting to a “new normal”.
What is commonly known as “baby blues” occurs shortly following birth due to rapid hormone shifts and should not persist after about 2 weeks postpartum. Symptoms of the baby blues will improve naturally within this time frame, some of these symptoms include:
Random episodes of crying (often for “no reason”)
Difficulty bonding with baby
Symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) will persist beyond 2 weeks postpartum and may not even begin until baby is a few months old. These symptoms impact your daily life and make it difficult to function as usual. Symptoms of PPD include:
Depressed mood or severe mood swings
Consistent difficulty sleeping - trouble falling and/or staying asleep (even when baby is sleeping)
Significant appetite changes
Uncontrollable anger or rage
Frequent and persistent crying or tearfulness (often for “no reason”)
Feeling hopeless or helpless
Feeling empty or numb
Feeling disconnected from others
Here is a patient info sheet if you would like to learn more
Symptoms of PPA (postpartum anxiety) and OCD
Scary or intrusive thoughts
Excessive worry or racing thoughts (“what if’s”)
Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep more often than not (many times this can be due to excessive worry and racing or ruminating thoughts)
Frequent fear or panic
Physical symptoms such as a racing heart or shortness of breath/tight chest, shakiness
Avoidance or isolation
Feeling preoccupied with baby’s safety
Feeling of dread
For a more comprehensive description of PPD/PPA, please visit postpartum progress https://postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english
***These are just a guideline of common symptoms and are by no means diagnostic or all encompassing. Each individual will have their own unique experience and symptoms. However, if you feel any of these or other symptoms you are experiencing are persistent, worsening, or interfering with daily life, or you just feel “off” and like you need more support, trust your instincts and seek professional help.***
If I don’t have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), do I still need treatment?
My personal opinion is that ANYONE can benefit from therapy. You don’t need to have a particular mental health diagnosis to benefit from treatment. Attending therapy is one way to take care of your mental health needs.
How can therapy help me? Although therapy is not guaranteed to “work”, with diligence, dedication, and patience, the following are some of the ways investing in therapy can help you.
Discover who you are
Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and patterns causing emotional distress, relationship conflicts, or feelings of despair and low self-esteem
Find new ways to bond with your child(ren), family, and most importantly, yourself, creating stronger feelings of hope and confidence.
Define your values and create attainable goals aligned with these values
Create a toolbox of helpful skills to help manage symptoms of anxiety or depression
Enhance communication skills
What is a typical session like? Sessions are always tailored to client needs. Generally speaking, sessions may include typical talk therapy, problem solving, learning coping skills, distress tolerance skills, psychoeducation about a particular topic or type of therapy and how to apply and use this knowledge in daily life, and more. The first session is a “get to know you” type of session for both of us. We will discuss whatever you are comfortable with sharing; things such as why you are seeking treatment, medical, psychological, and social history, if you have sought therapy in the past, logistics such as paperwork and payment, what you would like to accomplish in therapy, and anything else that might be pertinent for your treatment. Therapy is hard work, and you get out what you put in. It will not always be easy. I will create a safe space for you to be vulnerable and begin to heal.
How long can I expect to be in therapy? This depends on many different factors and will always be decided upon collaboratively. Some clients are looking for longer term support and will continue therapy for a year or longer, some may need more circumstantial or specific goal oriented treatment that may only last a few months. In general, I suggest committing to weekly appointments for at least 6-8 sessions to build rapport and trust, acquire a good foundation of coping skills, and establish and maintain progress as more frequent sessions help to continue this forward momentum. Progress is revisited intermittently throughout your treatment and goals of therapy can be changed at any time, it is a fluid process.
What types of therapies do you practice? Some of the therapies I use are Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Person Centered Therapy, Compassion Based Therapy, Intuitive Therapy, and Narrative Therapy. I consider ACT to be my main theoretical orientation as my personal belief is that tying behavioral changes to deeply meaningful values is most beneficial for long lasting change. However, therapy is always tailored to you, the client, and I have training in a variety of other therapies that we may utilize skills and concepts from depending upon your needs and preferences.
Do you accept insurance? I am considered an out-of-network provider and I am not currently accepting insurance as a form of payment, however I aim to keep my services accessible to everyone. For this reason, I offer limited reduced fee options, please inquire for details. I can also provide you with a receipt (superbill) upon request if you would like to submit it to your insurance company for possible reimbursement. I cannot guarantee any reimbursement by your insurance company. Current payment options are cash, check, or credit card.
Why would I choose an out-of network provider instead of a therapist who is covered under my insurance plan? Only you are able to make the best decision for your own personal healing, AND for your pocketbook.While I may be in the business of psychotherapy, I am not here to sell myself over another therapist. Self-pay therapists are not for everyone, and you may find a therapist in network with your insurance provider who you really click with. That’s great! So I’m not going to give you a spiel about why you “should” or “shouldn’t” choose an out-of-network provider, like myself, rather than one who is covered by your insurance. I believe everyone is the expert in their own life, I also believe in everyone’s innate potential to trust their intuition as well as research options and make logical decisions in their life that best fit all of their needs. Seeking therapy is a very personal and individual choice, it can be difficult to find someone you click with no matter what forms of payment they do or don’t accept, how much experience they have, age, gender, etc. Therapy is a commitment of time, energy, and money. My goal is that you find the right fit for you, because that is where you will find the most success! This is also one of the reasons that I offer brief initial phone consultations (this differs from a typical therapy session and it’s purpose is to help determine a good fit). There are so many therapists out there it can be hard to find and choose the right fit for you. Because I understand that therapy can be a big financial commitment, I want you to feel comfortable before making a decision to invest in treatment. If we find we are not a good match, I am happy to provide other referral sources as well.
How can I afford a therapist who is out-of-network? This is a common concern for many clients. The investment may seem overwhelming or daunting. Again, this is why I offer a FREE initial phone consultation. No commitment necessary. As far as finances go, I have found the more proactive you are, the more you can ease your own fears around financial concerns. This means setting up a budget, asking yourself what are you really willing, able, and ready to invest in your treatment. Be realistic, there’s no right or wrong here! It’s understandable our basic needs always come first. If those are being met, you may then ask yourself where might you be spending money that isn’t necessary that you could use towards treatment? Do you have any opportunities to supplement income such as selling crafts, babysitting, or driving for a car service? Many times we can figure out some creative ways to problem solve if we really have the desire to do something. (And by “we”, I truly mean “we”. I believe in genuineness and authenticity. I have been here myself, I have used both in network and out of network providers and have needed to really evaluate my life and spending habits to budget for what was most valuable to me. I also have a rule, I don’t ask clients to do anything I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself.). Be honest with yourself and decide what you’re willing to do, or not to do. Again, there’s no right or wrong. This is an important decision not to be made lightly.