Frequently Asked Questions

A Few Myths About Psychotherapy

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a unique relationship.  (As you may have noticed, Psychotherapy and Counseling are interchangeable words.) At NPCC, psychotherapy provides a non-judgmental, empathic environment that permits you to explore who you are – your history, your future, your successes, your problems, and yourself at this very moment in time. Therapy gives you a chance to think things through, with support and feedback from a person who is interested and trained to help human beings figure out how to make their lives better.  Back to top

How does psychotherapy work?

Therapy has a long history of approaches, skills and techniques. The therapists at NPCC begin to help their clients by listening, however, psychotherapy is not simply listening. NPCC therapists are collaborators with their clients, carefully listening and then offering feedback about their clients’ feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Therapists help people to notice patterns and themes in their lives that may or may not be helping them. NPCC therapists help people to get on with their lives. Clients at NPCC learn to look within themselves and to learn more about how the world around them functions so that they can get more out of life.   Back to top

Talking to someone about worries and problems can be extremely helpful. Sometimes talking to a friend, mentor, spiritual advisor or another trusted person can be enough. And sometimes it is profoundly beneficial to consult a trained consultant – a therapist – who has expert knowledge about what helps with specific kinds of problems.  Back to top

How do therapists help?

Therapists at NPCC use a number of approaches to accomplish this. Most of our staff refers to the skills involved in “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is simply learning how to be observe what is happening, within and without, in the present moment. Being mindful is a powerful skill which can transform human beings by helping to build awareness of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations and helping people to both accept and change those thoughts, emotions and sensations. Awareness helps people to participate more fully in life.  Back to top

NPCC therapists integrate mindfulness with well-established psychotherapeutic points of view, including cognitive-behavioral, somatic (body-centered) approaches and psychodynamic approaches. Therapy at NPCC is accepting, warm and active.  Back to top

Who benefits from psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is beneficial to people in many situations. Psychotherapy helps people with serious psychological and emotional difficulties that can be disabling. It can also help people who have been severely traumatized or people who have a crisis in a relationship. It can help children adjust to stressors beyond their control. It can help families to get along. But most people, at various times in life, also struggle with painful feelings and thoughts. Therapy can help to improve one’s quality of life.  Back to top

Who comes to New Perspectives?

The clientele at New Perspectives Center for Counseling is diverse — people in crisis, people who want to change behaviors that are negatively effecting their lives, people who want to get along better in their relationships, people who feel overly effected by sadness or fear. People of all races, ages, cultures, sexual preferences, adults, children, families, and couples – all are welcome at NPCC.  Back to top

You may find it helpful to review our Symptom Checklist if you’re trying to determine whether or not to seek psychotherapy.

How do I get connected with a counselor?

You can contact New Perspectives Center for Counseling by phone at 415-752-5275. If you call during working hours, your call will probably be answered by an intake counselor, who will ask you some questions about what is going on for you and any specific requests you may have. The intake counselor will then assign you to one of the NPCC staff counselors, who will contact you to set up an appointment.

If your call is not immediately answered by an intake counselor, you can leave a message and a counselor will return your call, generally within a few hours or the next business day, to set the referral process in motion.  Click here to read more about our counselors. Back to top

What level of training and experience do NPCC counselors have?

NPCC counselors are experienced post-graduate Registered Marriage and Family Interns enrolled in a complete supervision and training program. They are supervised by Licensed Clinicians. Our “Interns,” or first-year counselors, begin our training program with prior clinical experience. “Associate” interns have finished the yearlong NPCC training program and are continuing to work on their hours towards state licensure. Back to top

What does therapy at NPCC cost?

It is part of the NPCC mission to make therapy available to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Our regular full fee for therapy is $110, and we offer a generous sliding scale, with $40 as our lowest fee. During your initial telephone intake conversation our counselors will explain our fee structure and work with you to set a fee that fits your situation, depending on your income and need. Back to top

How long does therapy take?

It depends on a number of things, including your goals for therapy, your motivation, the severity of your presenting issues, and the quality of the relationship between you and your therapist. Clients will often feel some relief even after one or two sessions. Very specific situational problems can sometimes be resolved over a period of a few months. But generally speaking, therapy usually requires some time to produce lasting changes in a client’s behaviors, feelings, and quality of life. You should discuss your thoughts and needs about time spent in therapy with your therapist. Back to top

Symptom Checklist

The following lists common concerns that bring people to psychotherapy. Make a check mark next to concerns that you have. Use two check marks to indicate problems that especially concern you. When you’re finished, you don’t need to count the check marks — simply notice the impact of “checking in” with yourself – would you like help with these feelings and thoughts?  Back to top

  • I feel nervous or anxious
  • I often feel panicky or have had panic attack(s)
  • I feel under pressure and/or stressed
  • I need to learn to relax
  • I am afraid of being alone
  • I am angry a lot
  • I am violent
  • I have trouble expressing my emotions
  • I feel inferior to other people
  • I don’t have self-confidence
  • I feel sad or unhappy
  • I feel lonely and/or isolated
  • I feel guilty a lot of the time
  • I criticize myself a lot
  • I sometimes think about taking my own life
  • I have recently experienced trauma and/or loss
  • I’m not sure that I’m stable enough
  • I can’t really tell what I’m feeling or if I’m feeling anything at all
  • Sometimes I wonder, “Who am I?”
  • I have a lot of trouble making decisions
  • I feel confused much of the time
  • I have trouble controlling my thoughts
  • I have trouble controlling my actions
  • I tend to be suspicious of other people
  • I abuse alcohol and/or drugs
  • I have difficulty with school and/or work
  • I have concerns about money
  • I have difficulty being honest and/or open
  • I have difficulty communicating
  • I have a hard time making and/or keeping friends
  • I wish I could be more social
  • I feel pressured by others
  • I feel controlled and manipulated
  • I have marital or couple problems
  • I have family problems
  • I am experiencing a break-up
  • I have difficulties in sexual relationships
  • I feel guilty about my sexual activities
  • I have upsetting feelings related to molestation or rape
  • I have worries about childhood abuse
  • I have difficulties with weight control
  • I have concerns about my physical health
  • I have concerns about my appearance
  • I have concerns about performing ritualistic behaviors
  • I have fears about losing control

A Few Myths About Psychotherapy

Therapy is for weak people.

Generally, most human beings want to solve problems and often seek help with those problems. You might get help in finding a job, curing a medical problem, building a piece of furniture, planning a vacation. You might consult professionals when learning how to be a better parent or partner. These are all admirable measures of strength in our society. We deserve help when we are perplexed about our emotions and thoughts. Human beings are interdependent and it’s ok to consult an expert who will confidentially help you to explore those thoughts and feelings.  Back to top

I can’t afford psychotherapy.

It’s true that psychotherapy is often expensive. Happily, many affordable options exist, especially at centers like New Perspectives, where very experienced psychotherapy interns are willing to work with you to set a fee that you can afford. NPCC is a non-profit and is dedicated to providing therapy at very affordable fees.  Back to top

I don’t need therapy, I can just talk to my friends.

Social support is absolutely essential for mental and emotional therapy. “It takes a village” applies to all of us in most areas of our lives. Psychotherapy is different than friendship in many ways and, consequently, offers something in addition to what your friends and family can provide. The differences: 1) therapists are highly trained professionals who have spent years learning how to treat cognitive, emotional, behavioral and relationship issues; 2) your relationship with a therapist is devoted to the client, exclusively; 3) therapy provides a unique atmosphere where you can discuss anything, including things that you may not want to reveal to friends and family; 4) therapy is confidential; therapists are legally mandated (with a few exceptions) to keep your secrets.  Back to top

Therapists will judge me.

Good psychotherapists know how to listen to your most painful stories without being judgmental. A therapist helps a client to confront his or her problems in a non-judgmental, empathic way, which is the most important way to inspire change. Therapists know how to balance acceptance with a desire for change.  Back to top

Therapy is only for people with very serious “issues”.

Psychotherapy is not only important in the treatment of significant and profound psychological struggles, but it is important in the prevention of such suffering. Psychotherapy can be helpful for support, for the development of insight, and for specific problems that can easily respond to treatment (e.g., phobias, panic, insomnia). For example, therapy can help couples to develop a relationship that is resilient enough to withstand crises, instead of waiting until their relationships are under serious threat.  Back to top

Therapists listen but don’t do anything.

Listening is a key part of psychotherapy, which simply doesn’t work without empathy and validation. And a therapist needs to listen carefully to truly understand who you are. Most people come to therapy because they want to change something about themselves or about their lives. At New Perspectives, therapists listen and take action, with feedback, with experiential work, with helping a client to build new skills and with validation. Here’s an interesting article on psychotherapy from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/in-therapy-forever-enough-already.html. Therapists at NPCC want to help you to meet your goals for change.  Back to top

Good artists are a little crazy – therapy will take away my creativity.

There are many stories about great artists who were in extreme psychological and emotional pain. These artists may even have created great art while “crazy.” In fact, madness and “mania” interferes with creativity and with a productive, creative life. Psychotherapy helps any person to remain stable while unleashing unique ways to see and live life, to express pain, to unblock creativity and to develop a meaningful creative life. Psychotherapy itself is a creative process of exploration. A psychotherapist wants his or her clients to develop and live fully developed, expressive lives.  Back to top