John T. Stallworth, J.D., Ph.D.
David S. Litton, Ph.D.
Carol Pierce-Davis, Ph.D.
Rebecca Redwood, LMSW-ACP
Theodore Carlos, M.A., LPC
Whitney Humphrey, M.A., LMFT-A
Dona Stallworth, Ph.D.
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FAQ on Psychological Services

WHAT IS THERAPY?

Therapy is designed to help people solve problems in living by making changes in thoughts, feelings and/or behaviors. People generally use therapy when other efforts have not brought the desired results.

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE USE THERAPY?

All kinds. Everyone faces problems throughout their lives. Contrary to popular belief, no one easily solves all their problems. Today, it is even harder because we live in such a complex and demanding society. It is common now to be faced with problems we have had no chance to prepare for and never expected. When that happens, our coping skills can get overwhelmed, leading to "symptoms" of distress in various forms. Such symptoms may have led you to call for today's appointment. Regardless of the nature of the symptoms that lead someone to call, we have always found that these symptoms were a way people tried to solve normal human problems.

Some people have misgivings about therapy. They believe it is for the seriously disturbed only. It is true that many therapeutic techniques were developed in response to people who were having severe problems. However, today, these techniques are helpful to anyone struggling with problems that are not responding to other efforts.

WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THERAPY?

The connection between symptoms and the underlying problem is often unclear. One therapy goal is to figure out what problem(s) the symptom is an attempt to solve. Symptoms that lead people to seek therapy are ineffective ways of dealing with the problem. And they are usually quite painful. Another therapy goal is to find better problem-solving strategies.

HOW DOES THERAPY WORK?

Therapy involves thinking and talking about one's life and problems. We pay attention to feelings that arise, both in and outside of this office. The effects of your behavior on yourself, others and situations are considered. Sometimes we look into your past and sometimes we stick to the present.

Sometimes people come to therapy hoping for a quick answer. While this is understandable, it rarely happens. Few people go to the trouble and expense of therapy without having tried hard to solve the problem on their own. Some people wait for their therapist to solve the problem. This approach guarantees disappointment. Therapy is hard work. While there are times we ask people to try out new ideas or new behaviors, answers to problems will be the result of our mutual exploration and effort.

There are three ways you can increase the benefit of our work:

1. Push yourself to talk about the things you find the hardest to discuss. What you want to discuss least is probably what we need to discuss most. The sooner we get to them, the faster we will finish. Issues "kept in the closet" tend to grow in the dark. Bringing them out into the light of day is a big step in making them manageable.

2. Honesty with me and yourself is essential. Being dishonest in therapy is like asking a CPA to do your taxes without letting him see your financial records. Honesty means, in part, talking with me concerning your thoughts and feelings about the therapy process itself.

3. Do task assignments made within therapy sessions. Changing one's thoughts feelings or behaviors requires practice "in the real world," not just in the consulting room.

IS THERAPY EFFECTIVE?

Research shows that therapy is helpful to most people willing to invest the required effort. Sometimes, however, it is not. This can be for several reasons:

(1) Poor rapport between you and your therapist. If after a few sessions you do not feel comfortable, please discuss this with me. We will try to work it out. If we can't, we will help you find someone better suited to you.

(2) There may be a poor fit between the therapeutic method selected and your problem or personality. If you feel this may be the case in our work, please say so.

(3) Some problems are not amenable to the kinds of therapy we provide, though this may not be apparent at first.

(4) There are some problems in living that are not changeable by therapy.

Therapy can be painful at times as issues long avoided or hidden are raised. This pain should not be endured for its own sake but only in service of your therapeutic goals. It is unrealistic to expect to feel better after each session. There may be times when you may leave feeling somewhat upset or anxious. If this happens regularly, however, please tell me.

Finally, the limits of one's financial resources can lead to frustration in therapy. While in therapy, one may identify additional goals beyond those leading to the initial consultation. Yet finances may preclude continuing in therapy to meet those goals.

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING?

Formal psychological testing often helps the therapy process by deepening the psychologist's understanding of you and your personality. Psychological tests are scientific instruments that have been constructed to help us understand a person's characteristics, worries, skills, and ways of coping. These tests have been given to thousands of people in order to establish their validity, i.e., that they accurately measure what they are supposed to measure.

The results of the testing process can be thought of as a snapshot. Snapshots catch us at the moment. Some of what is seen will pass with the moment. Other features of the picture will be more enduring. In a similar way, testing reveals some aspects of our personality that are relatively temporary, things related to our situation or time of life. Testing can also reveal more enduring aspects of our personality.

 WILL I KNOW THE RESULTS?

Yes. We will take time to review what the tests suggest is true about you. The tests we use are excellent but not perfect. Because they are created by people, there is always the potential for error. As we review the results, we will be particularly interested in your sense of whether they " fit" you and your experience. If not, a test error may have occurred. Alternatively, there may be some features of yourself that you have not acknowledged. One useful aspect of testing is to give people a chance to confront unacknowledged aspects of their personality. This often leads to enhanced problem solving. Review of test results is often useful in refining therapy goals.

HOW MUCH DOES TESTING COST?

Test fees are variable, depending on what tests we use. There are several objective personality tests that we use most often. These tests present you with true/false or multiple choice questions. You take these paper and pencil tests alone here in our offices. Most objective tests cost $95 each but some are less.

Sometimes we may decide to include projective tests. This is usually done within a full battery, which includes objective tests, projective tests, and an intelligence test. Projective and intelligence tests are administered by a psychologist. Dr. Litton's fee for a full battery of tests is $450, which includes fees for test administration, test evaluation and report write-up. Fees for an initial interview and for the interpretive conference are separate, billed at $95 per session.

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