Eric P. Letourneau, LMFT • San Franciso & Alameda
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Q: What is psychotherapy?
Essentially, psychotherapy is a process of learning and growth facilitated by the relationship between you and your therapist in an atmosphere that is comforting and challenging. Over time, trust within the relationship allows you to talk more intimately about yourself and start to put into words what might ordinarily feel too uncomfortable to address.

Therapy can be hard work, and it takes commitment and effort. But over time, numerous positive changes can occur. You can gain new insights into your thoughts, feelings, actions, and beliefs. You can become more aware of your actual lived experience and the meaning of that experience. You might also start experiencing life differently and gain insights into creating change.

With so many modalities, psychotherapy can look like many things. For some, it’s a place to explore oneself. For others, it’s a place to meet unmet needs or a path toward achieving a goal. Therapy is not straight on advice-giving, nor is it a magic wand or quick fix for making one's problems go away. It’s a relational process which evolves organically.

Q: What does therapy look like?
The first steps of psychotherapy have a lot to do with building a new relationship.

First, we'll see if our schedules are compatible and if I can be of service. If we realize that I’m not the right person for you or that you need someone else, I'll be sure to provide you with a selection of referrals.

Next, we'll use a few sessions to get to know each other. We'll often cover a lot of information and identify some goals to make sure that we're on the same page.

Depending on your goals, you may need to spend a few sessions or a few months in therapy in order to feel "finished" or complete. In some cases, it might even take longer. Some goals are more conducive to short therapies than others. Each person is different.

Q: Is therapy a luxury?
Many people are of the opinion that therapy is a frivolous luxury—a place to dump thoughts and feelings with little regard for the therapist. They see therapy as an expensive service for narcissists who revel in their own egos and see the therapist as a sounding board. The process can be viewed as endless, and clients often refer to their therapists as friends who control all their decisions in life.

This vision of therapy has unfortunately been promoted on TV shows, in movies and in the media. Seeing therapy as a meaningless luxury is what makes it even harder for clients to feel comfortable in creating a supportive relationship.

It can be very difficult to see meaning in life. Having someone to talk to truthfully and honestly can be a very deep and profound experience, and having someone who’s willing to listen and be objective can have a life-long impact. Building a good relationship with a therapist can provide relief not only to yourself, but to the people around you as well.

Psychotherapy is more than a place to voice concerns; it is also a sacred place to explore one’s life, which often leads to creating change, purpose and a supportive environment.

Q: What is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)?
MFTs are mental health workers in private practice or agency settings who have earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. To become licensed, they have completed 3,000 hours of supervised clinical internship work and passed two rigorous Board of Behavioral Health and Sciences exams. MFTs serve individuals, couples (married or not), families, children, and groups. They address mental, emotional and relational concerns of varying kinds.

Q: How to do I get the most of therapy?
• Invest in and engage yourself by showing up every week.
• Come a least five minutes early so you can make a smooth transition.
• Ask yourself what you would like to cover during the session.
• Tell the truth. Speak from the heart. Be honest.
• Take risks. Allow yourself to be irrational and funny.
• Don't hesitate to bring up any issues you are having with me or with therapy.
• After your session, write or draw something in a journal (feelings, sensations, after thoughts).
• Take a reflective walk everyday.

Q: How do I chose the right therapist?
Since having a good relationship is essential to therapy, I would simply recommend listening to your gut. Do you feel comfortable with this therapist? Do you think you'll be able to share your intimate secrets with this person and be understood? Is the therapist experienced enough to work on your issues? Do you like his/her approach? Can you relax and breathe during your sessions?

Many clients begin the process of selecting a therapist with an online search but are soon overwhelmed by the extraordinary number of choices. It is therefore understandable that they feel it necessary to “shop around” and then meet several therapists in order to make an informed choice. In my experience, shopping for therapists often results in contrived meetings where clients tell the same personal story to each therapist and then see how they feel after each interaction. These meetings are often a waste of precious time since little progress is made. Interestingly, clients usually end up returning to the first therapist they met.

Trust takes time to establish in the relationship, so I invite you to start with one therapist and stick with them for several sessions before deciding to terminate or move to another one. Don’t go to several therapists at once; this only creates more confusion and stress. Focus on getting better instead of the perfect fit. If after three to five sessions you feel uncomfortable or ambivalent, talk to your therapist. Maybe what is missing can be fixed. Or maybe the therapist can help you find a therapist who is better suited to your needs.

Q: How do I make an appointment?
First, please look at my online scheduler to see if we have mutual availability. Then, send me an email to request an appointment. If you’re using insurance, I’ll need to verify your coverage before we meet.

Once you become a regular client, you’ll have direct access to my online scheduler. You’ll be able to make and change appointments yourself.
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Emails & Social Networks

If you need to contact me between sessions, the best way to do so is by email or call (I do not receive text on this number).

Even though emails are immediate and convenient communication methods, they are unfortunately not completely secure or confidential. Emails, in particular, are vulnerable due to the fact that servers or communication companies may have unlimited and direct access to the messages traveling through them.

Additionally, people with access to your computer, mobile phone, and/or other devices may also have access to your email and/or text messages. Please take a moment to contemplate the risks involved if any of these persons were to read the messages we exchange with each other.

Therefore, it is best to limit the use of email to arrange or modify appointments and do not include content related to your therapy sessions.

If you communicate via emails, I’ll assume that you have made an informed decision and that you understand the risk that such communication may be intercepted. I will honor your desire to communicate in this manner.

Social Network:

I’m unable to accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

Adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy, and may also blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have questions about this, please bring them up when we meet and we can talk more about it.
We all deserve to have a voice