FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

 Get To Know Me Better!

What are your credentials? Your professional background?

 

I am a licensed clinical psychologist, which means I have my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). I graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCS) with both my Psy.D. and my master’s in clinical psychology. Prior to obtaining my doctorate and master’s degrees from TCS, I earned my bachelor’s in Psychology from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

 

I have extensive training in several issues, including psychological assessment and testing, self-improvement, trauma, addiction, dual-diagnosis, and mild to severe psychological distress and diagnoses. I have been fortunate to be trained across a variety of settings, including private practice, the Department of Mental Health in Los Angeles, community mental health, elementary and high schools, psychiatric hospitals, addiction rehabilitation centers, and correctional health facilities. 

 

Even with all my training and experience, my greatest reward by far is seeing my clients grow, change, and reach their personal and professional goals. That’s what gives me the most purpose and meaning in my work!
 

 

What kind of therapist are you?

 

My therapy approach is primarily psychodynamic and attachment-based. This means that I believe the foundation of your treatment success is the relationship we form together. You will likely be reenacting, or replaying, a lot of your relationship dynamics in our relationship, and together, we can help you notice these patterns and practice being more vulnerable and assertive, while getting more of your needs met- in healthier ways. 

 

I also believe that therapy should be practical, and solution-focused a lot of time, so a primary goal of mine is to teach my clients cognitive-behavioral therapy skills, additional coping skills, communication skills, and other skills to help you be more assertive in other areas in your life (e.g., at work, in your relationships, even at the grocery store!)

 

I ask for, and provide, feedback throughout our sessions, and encourage you to please tell me what may or may not be working for you so we can address this together. I want to make sure your needs are being met to the best of my, and our, abilities. 
 

 

Do I have to lead the sessions?

 

My sessions are very collaborative, and even with that being said, we’re going to have sessions where you might want to process and/or vent a whole lot, and we’re going to have others where you might feel like you don’t have much to talk about that day. All of it works!

 

 

Tell Me More About Therapy Please!

How can I tell if therapy is right for me?

 

I personally believe that most, if not all, people could benefit from therapy. I mean, there aren’t many places someone could go to see someone who could remain pretty objective, non-judgmental, and who could provide you with a safe space where you can disclose some of your most-buried secrets. Therapy is one of those places, if not the only place for some people.

 

Also, I’m going to invite you to ask yourself these questions, and if you answer “yes” to at least one of them, I’d say you could benefit from therapy:

  • Am I concerned about certain thoughts and/or feelings I’m having, or things I’m doing (behaviors)?

  • Have I tried stopping or lessening said thoughts/feelings/behaviors on my own, but unfortunately been unsuccessful in doing so?

  • Have I been feeling more depressed, worried, overwhelmed and/or stressed out than usual?

  • Have I been feeling lonely/lonelier despite any attempts I make to be with/around others?

  • Am I having a harder time than usual coping with things?

  • Am I having a harder time concentrating at school and/or work?

  • Have any of my family members or friends suggested I “see someone” or that I might benefit from “getting help”?

  • Have I talked to my medical doctor, another healthcare professional, or even my hair stylist/manicurist/etc. about what’s troubling me?

  • Have I tried to internet-search my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and/or symptoms?

     

How does therapy work?

 

One of my favorite questions! Long-term research across different cultures and different types of therapies consistently show that the most important component of effective therapy is what is referred to as the therapeutic relationship between therapist and client; aka, the rapport between therapist and client. This relationship is essential to therapeutic growth and healing.

 

How can this be? Simply put: a large part of psychological suffering is rooted in our relationships. This is a lifelong process, that begins before we're even born! Pretty amazing huh?

 

Once this incredible therapeutic relationship is established, your psychotherapist will help identify and strengthen your unique qualities and capabilities over time; which are actually all qualities we each have innately that lead us to have positive results! It just takes some time and some digging sometimes to help you find and access those. 

 

Extensive research shows that the therapeutic relationship, coupled with your journey to find and access your unique qualities and capabilities, are the largest parts of how effective psychotherapy works.
 


How can I tell if therapy is working?

 

This one’s not an easy question to answer, but I’m going to offer you these questions to help you gauge your thoughts and feelings about your therapy process:

 

  • Do you feel some form of relief, calm, increased motivation, increased connection with yourself and others?

  • Do you feel like you have better-functioning relationships?

  • Do you feel like you have a better understanding of your relationship, thought, feelings, and behavior patterns?

  • Do you feel you have learned new ways of responding in similar situations?

  • Do you feel like your therapist is a good listener?

  • Do you feel like your therapist understands what you’re coming to treatment for?

  • Do you feel like you understand how therapy might be helpful, in general?

  • Do you feel like you understand that therapy is rarely a “quick fix”, and takes time, effort, and investment?

  • Do you leave most sessions feeling like your time and money were well-spent?

  • Are you/have you been an active participant in your therapy to your fullest capacity?

  • After around 6-8 sessions, how far do you feel you have come to solving whatever issues you have come to therapy to deal with?

  • Can you identify some skills you’ve learned through the course of therapy, even if you haven’t yet “used” those skills?

  • What does your inner voice tell you? Let’s not underestimate what that voice, or our gut, tell us!
     

 

What is the difference between psychotherapy and counseling?

 

Although the terms "psychotherapy" and "counseling" are used interchangeably and are quite similar, there are some differences.

 

Counseling is usually shorter-term, and the focus is on learning specific techniques for specific issues and particular problems, such as anger management or addiction.

 

Psychotherapy is usually longer-term, and focuses on a broader range of issues; including but not limited to specific mental health issues, the conscious and unconscious, existential therapy, etc.


Depending on the type of psychotherapy conceptualized and being implemented, main goals include understanding patterns in behavior, specifically in terms of how the client thinks, feels, and behaves in the world, having more satisfying relationships, and regulating their emotional responses to stressful situations; among others.

 

How is therapy different from just talking to a friend or relative?

 

Ahh, this question. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this (important) question! While having a strong support system made up of friends and/or relatives may be so valuable and helpful in many ways, our friends and relatives aren’t usually professionally trained to help us heal, grow, and change the way therapy can. Even if your friends and/or relatives are trained in these areas, it would be unethical for them to see you in this capacity anyways!

 

While our friends and relatives give us advice, which may or may not be helpful, therapists help their clients through a process of self-discovery and do not provide their clients with advice (due to ethical and other reasons, not limited to us helping our clients be more self-sufficient). 

 

It’s also pretty difficult for friends and relatives to maintain objectivity, simply because they care about you and their relationship with you. A lot of the time, they’ll likely be giving you advice based on their life experiences. A trained professional will help you find your own answers, that are true and right for you, by helping you connect those dots.

 

Finally, if your friends’ and relatives’ advice was sufficient, you probably wouldn’t be reading this *wink*
 

 

Ok, so then how long will this take?

 

Again, this likely won’t be the answer you’re looking for, but it depends. While many psychotherapists promise fast results in as little as 6 sessions, that’s highly unrealistic. You might start to feel better in many ways by then, but it’s highly unlikely that you would’ve met all of your therapy goals by then.

The process of exploring your true self, identifying and changing patterns that prevent you from really engaging in the life you want to live, take time. That being said, some people find that a short course of 6-12 sessions is enough for them, and that’s fine too, depending on what brings them in to therapy in the first place. 

 

A lot of my clients enjoy, and benefit from, open-ended, long-term therapy. It takes time for us to get to know each other first and foremost, to build our relationship, start to peel back the layers, explore new insights, learn new coping skills, and actually have you use these in your daily life long enough for lasting changes to occur.

Sounds like a lot right? It can be. It can also be so amazing, challenging, and oh-so-worth-it! I’ll be there with you through it all, for as long you, and we, feel our time together continues to serve as a special space for your continued growth.

 

Whatever your case and circumstances are, we will discuss this at the beginning of therapy and agree on a mutual plan. Along our journey, you will be the best judge of how you're doing, and I will always invite you to discuss this with me so we can best decide how to move forward.



 Working With Me

 

How often do we meet?

 

We’ll begin by seeing each other weekly, as this will be the best way to make the most progress towards your goals.

 

We can increase or decrease sessions depending on your needs and/or progress.

 

If we mutually decide to increase your session frequencies, we can meet up to 3 sessions per week, depending on your cirucmstances.

 

Like I said, I like to check in consistently with my clients, and there will come a time when we both notice you’ve made significant progress. We can then talk about whether or not moving to an every-other-week schedule might make more sense for you and your goals. 
 

 

How long is every session?

 

I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation. Our in-person individual therapy sessions will each then be 50-minutes thereafter.

 

I can also provide 75-minute individual therapy sessions, per request, prorated per my hourly fee.
 

 

Do sessions have to be on the same day and time every single week?

 

Most, if not all, of my clients prefer to have “their” days and times every week. This setup also helps with consistency, reliability, and it’s much easier to remember and plan for.

 

However, depending on your unique circumstances, we can work around your schedule to meet your needs and ensure that you are still able to make your weekly therapy appointments. All I ask is that this is communicated as early as is feasibly possible.
 

 

What if I don’t want to/I can’t come in every week?

 

To gain the most benefit from therapy, it is usually recommended to have weekly sessions. If this setup does not work for your lifestyle, I would be happy to provide you with referrals for colleagues who may be a better fit in this regard.

 

If you are a current client who is already coming in weekly, and would need to adjust this schedule temporarily, we can definitely talk about it and work it out!
 

 

Logistical Stuff

 

What happens if I’m late for session?

Of course, life happens and unforeseen circumstances happen. Since I will always need to end our session at the allotted time, as I’ll likely have other clients booked directly after our session slot, we can use whatever time we have left in our session that day, or you may choose to reschedule to another day and time.  
 

 

What’s your cancellation policy?

 

I ask that you provide me with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice prior to needing to cancel a session. You can do this by emailing me, text messaging me, or calling me and leaving a voicemail

 

For example, Monday 10:00 AM sessions will need to be cancelled by Sunday at 10:00 AM to avoid being charged the cancellation fee.

 

Sessions cancelled in less than 24 hours and/or “no-show” sessions will be billed the full fee with the card you have on file.

 

When I set my office schedule, I reserve that time for you and spend time preparing for our session, so that our work together is as effective as possible. 

 

Also, providing enough notice for a cancellation allows me to serve other clients who may be needing to meet with me as well.

 

I always prefer to attempt to reschedule your missed session in the same week, instead of simply skipping our work that week. I’ll do my best to accommodate you elsewhere if I can, although this may not always be possible.
 

 

Where are you located? Where do we meet?

 

I am located at:

 

10350 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 310

Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

My office is 1 and a 1/2 blocks west from the Century City Westfield Mall. The nearest major cross street is Beverly Glen Blvd.

 

Prior to our first in-person session, I will provide you with specific instructions on how to enter the building.

 

Once you arrive in Suite 310, you can flick the call light next to my name plate on the wall, and make yourself comfortable in the waiting room. I will come out to greet you at our session time.

 

 

Where do I park?

 

You have a few options for parking:

 

  1. There is metered street parking on Santa Monica Blvd.

  2. You can park under the building; the entrance is on Benecia Ave. I can validate parking for you. With parking validation, the cost will be $4.00, which is payable by credit card at the exit.

  3. Some of my clients also choose to park at the mall, about 1 and 1/2 blocks away.

 

*Please note that the residential side streets are all permit-parking only, and are aggressively ticketed*
 

 

How do I get started?

 

Go ahead and call or email me! You can also go to the “Contact” page on my website to send me a direct message using my contact form. We can start by having a free 15-minute phone consultation, or if you know you want to go ahead and just get started, let’s schedule an in-person session! 

© 2020 by Gabriella Azzam, Psy.D. 

Serving: West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Brentwood, West Hollywood, Westwood, Venice, Culver City, & Santa Monica.