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Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to some common questions are given below. If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Lok.

TALKING TO A PSYCHOLOGIST

Why should I talk to a professional?

Talking to a psychologist has several benefits beyond what you may be able to gain by talking to family or friends. When you talk to Dr. Lok, you can be assured of:

  • Confidentiality – There’s no need to worry about what people will think of you or how they will view others that you need to talk about.

  • Objectivity – Sometimes loved ones may try so hard to get you to see things from their point of view, they don’t really understand you. Their emotions or agendas can get in the way. The advice you get from family, friends, or coworkers may be biased by how your decisions will impact them. Because Dr. Lok is removed from the situation, she can give advice with your best interest in mind.

  • Dedicated time – The time you spend with Dr. Lok is set aside for YOU. Ever feel frustrated because the person you’re talking to seems more focused on their cell phone or the TV than they do on you? Imagine having someone give you their undivided attention—no distractions, no interruptions. Having a scheduled time for counseling also provides you with an opportunity to focus on yourself, something that can be a challenge to do on your own when life gets busy!

  • Expertise – While family and friends may be caring and even wise, they may not have the benefit of formal training in psychology. Dr. Lok has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is well-versed in research-based techniques to help people lower stress and anxiety, overcome depression, and find happiness.

What kinds of issues do you see people for?

Dr. Lok sees people for a variety of concerns, such as depression, stress, and anxiety, including panic attacks. She assists people with life transitions, such as those associated bereavement and divorce recovery, as well as changing jobs and the empty nest. She helps clients build self-esteem, set and achieve goals, and find purpose in life. She also helps people with a range of relationship issues, including determining whether the person they are dating is right for them, setting boundaries and ending verbal abuse, coping with jealousy, affairs, and other forms of infidelity, and deciding whether to stay married or get divorced. Dr. Lok also offers pre-marriage and marriage counseling to help couples improve communication, trust, and intimacy.

In addition, Dr. Lok specializes in working with military veterans to address a number of issues that may arise after deployment, such as sleep problems or anger management. She offers Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), a straight-forward, time-limited approach to deal with combat stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She also helps veterans with reintegration, including going back to work/school, reconnecting with friends and family, and making a successful transition from military culture to civilian life. For more information, please visit the Military/Veterans page.

What types of methods do you use to help people?

Dr. Lok provides counseling that integrates techniques from various evidence-based treatments. She draws from the cognitive-behavioral model, which emphasizes the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. She helps people make lifestyle changes to overcome depression, often without medication. Dr. Lok teaches mindfulness and relaxation techniques, as well as communication skills and strategies for improving relationships. She also incorporates positive psychology, which includes concepts such as gratitude, hope, and forgiveness, as well as helping clients identify and use their strengths.

What is the difference between counseling and coaching?

Although there is sometimes overlap between counseling and coaching techniques, coaching is focused on goal achievement rather than symptom relief. Traditional counseling or psychotherapy is appropriate for clients seeking help with depression, anxiety, or other problems that cause emotional distress or impairment. In contrast, coaching is designed for clients who are not in distress but are seeking help with challenges of everyday living. Although counseling/therapy is sometimes covered by insurance plans, coaching is not, as it is not viewed as a medical necessity. If you are unsure whether counseling or coaching would be right for you, please call Dr. Lok for a free phone consultation. She will be happy to help you determine which services are the best fit for your needs.

What’s the difference between a psychologist and an LPC, LMFT, or LCSW?

A psychologist holds a doctoral degree in psychology, has completed a year-long internship and another year of post-doctoral training, and has passed a national exam in order to become licensed at the doctoral level. Most Ph.D. programs also emphasize research and require the completion of a dissertation. On average, it takes 8 years to complete these requirements. Clinical psychologists are trained in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness and are qualified to do psychological testing.

Licensed professional counselors (LPC), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), and licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) are all clinicians licensed at the master’s level, which typically requires 2-3 years of education and training and passing an exam in their respective fields.

What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

A psychologist has attended graduate school, studied the science of human behavior and the art of helping people change, completed an internship and post-doctoral training, and earned a Ph.D. (or Psy.D.) in psychology. Psychologists are most likely to help people through talk therapy and often meet with clients on a weekly basis.

A psychiatrist has attended medical school to study general medicine, completed a residency to specialize in behavioral health, and earned a medical degree (M.D.). Psychiatrists are most likely to help people by prescribing medication and typically meet with patients more briefly and less often, usually once every few months after a medication regimen has been established.

WHAT TO EXPECT

I've never talked to a psychologist before. What should I expect?

Choosing a counselor can be a challenge, and it is important to find someone you feel comfortable with. Dr. Lok offers a free phone consultation so that you can discuss your concerns and determine if she is the right person to help you. If not, she is willing to provide guidance and/or referrals to help you find the right therapist. If Dr. Lok offers a good fit for your needs, you will be scheduled for an appointment. You can complete the necessary paperwork ahead of time or at the office.

During your first meeting, Dr. Lok will ask questions to gain a better understanding of the concerns that bring you to see her. She will work with you to identify your goals and create a plan to achieve them. This plan may include certain topics to discuss as well as techniques that will be used in session (e.g., relaxation exercises, challenging old ways of thinking, improving communication skills). Dr. Lok may also recommend things for you to work on at home, such as reading, keeping a journal, considering key questions, or practicing new skills. Periodically, your original plan will be reviewed to evaluate progress, refine goals, and identify next steps. As you come closer to achieving your goals, Dr. Lok will discuss with you when and how to end counseling and what you can do to maintain and build on the progress you have made.

How long are the sessions?

Sessions are typically 45 minutes in length. However, Dr. Lok offers flexibility to meet her clients’ needs. Sessions may be extended or abbreviated or conducted by phone as appropriate.

How often should I expect to come to counseling?

Dr. Lok tailors her approach to the individual. Although weekly sessions are typical, you can be seen more or less often if necessary. It is common to have more frequent sessions in the beginning and to gradually move sessions further apart (every 2-4 weeks) as counseling progresses.

How long will therapy take?

The therapy process varies greatly depending on the person and the nature of the issue(s) to be addressed. Some people will achieve their goals in just a few sessions; others may continue counseling for several months or even years. Once the initial problem has been resolved, it is not uncommon for people to return to counseling periodically as different concerns pop up from time to time.

SERVICES

Do you provide Christian counseling?

For clients seeking faith-based interventions, Dr. Lok is able to provide Christian counseling that integrates psychological theory and techniques with spiritual disciplines and Biblical wisdom.

Learn more about Christian counseling.

What age groups do you work with?

Dr. Lok works with adults (age 18 and up).

Do you prescribe medication?

No, Dr. Lok is a licensed psychologist, not a psychiatrist/physician. Dr. Lok uses treatment techniques that may serve either as an adjunct or as an alternative to medication.

Do you do psychological testing?

Dr. Lok does testing on a limited basis. She provides psychological assessments for veterans seeking to determine whether they have a mental health condition that is connected to their military service. She also offers the Prepare/Enrich Relationship Assessment for couples. She may administer other simple assessments to facilitate diagnosis and treatment but does not offer full psychological testing batteries at this time.

OFFICE AND FINANCIAL

Do you offer evening or weekend appointments?

Yes. Dr. Lok offers day, evening, and weekend appointments.

Do you offer a sliding scale?

No. Dr. Lok does not use a sliding scale. However, a discount is available when you pay for multiple sessions in advance. Also, Dr. Lok offers a discount for military veterans.

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes. Dr. Lok accepts MasterCard and Visa.

Can I use my Health Savings/Flex Spending Account to pay for services?

Yes. Visits to a psychologist are eligible expenses.

Do you take insurance?

Dr. Lok is an out-of-network provider. This means that if you choose to use your insurance benefits, you will pay the full session fee and then file a claim with your insurance company to receive reimbursement directly from them.

Please be advised that many insurance plans will not pay for visits to a psychotherapist unless you are diagnosed with a mental disorder and will not cover marital therapy and/or counseling for problems of everyday living (e.g., job stress, life transitions, relationship issues). If counseling is covered by your plan, the insurance company may require confidential information about your treatment. This information, including your diagnosis, may become part of your permanent medical record and could affect future insurability and/or other things for which mental health diagnoses are taken into consideration. For these reasons, many clients who have insurance benefits choose not to use them and prefer to pay privately.

Note to TRICARE beneficiaries: Dr. Lok is a certified non-network provider for TRICARE. This means that her services are eligible for reimbursement should you choose to file.

© 2010 April Lok