Frequently Asked Questions
Many people find psychotherapy improves their mood, helps them to manage their emotions more effectively, helps them to become more expressive regarding their thoughts and feelings, improves their relationships, and improves their functioning/capacity in work related pursuits. Dr. Pokrajac’s goal in psychotherapy is to help her clients live a more fulfilling life, achieve the goals they have for themselves, increase the closeness in their relationships, improve their outlook on life, develop greater understanding of their self/relationships, and improve their spiritual connection. Psychotherapy benefits can vary from person to person. Client’s life circumstances, emotional capacities, motivation, and follow through with treatment varies, so the length of treatment and outcome can vary depending upon the nature of the problems one is facing.
Some clients may experience unpleasant emotions from addressing traumas, or current life stressors. This is a normal part of psychotherapy and should improve and shift as one works through their difficulties. If undue stress is experienced from the treatment, it is important to communicate this with your psychologist so that the treatment is tailored to your particular needs and modification of the approach can be made.
The first appointment will be an hour and 15 minutes with both of you. My office practice forms can be downloaded prior to the appointment and brought in or completed on-line. The first session will focus on the issues that brought you to couple's therapy, and I will gather some history about your relationship as well. I will then set up an individual appointment with each of you, to review your personal history, and to review the couple's questionnaire.
We provide you with a statement at the end of the session, which you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. We will assist you with any necessary information you might need; however, we do not do direct billing to insurance companies from our office.
Unfortunately, I am unable to offer a sliding scale fee and accept payment in full at time of service. I would gladly refer you to clinics in the area that offer this service, if this is needed.
Generally, a forensic evaluation consists of:
- several hours of face to face interviewing about your particular situation and your history,
- completing psychological testing,
- my reviewing any relevant records (ie. Medical, Mental Health, School, Employment, Criminal, Police Reports, Child Abuse reports.), and
- Communicating with other people who know you and are familiar with your situation. From this evaluation information is given to your attorney and in most cases a report is written up and given to your attorney that will be used in your court case.
Psychological trauma is damage that results emotionally as a result of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is generally seen as an extremely stressful or life-threatening event. It can be either experiencing such an event or witnessing such an event that taxes one’s ordinary resources to cope. Trauma can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is a psychological condition resulting from a traumatic event or events. PTSD symptoms relate to 1) re-experiencing or ruminating on the traumatic event either in thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, intrusive images or overwhelming emotions/sensations related to the trauma, 2) avoidance of thoughts, events, experiences that will remind one of the traumatic event and numbing of emotions and 3) Hyperarousal or hyperreactivity (such as difficulties sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulties concentrating, hypervigilence, and startle reaction.
PTSD can cause physical changes in the brain and brain chemistry, which changes the person’s response to future stress. This change can make one more sensitive to future stress.
Generally experiences that are extremely overwhelming, stressful, and/or life threatening, often in which a person felt fear, horror and helplessness are considered traumatic. In some cases an individual may have experiences a life-threatening event and did not experience fear, horror or helplessness. Events commonly seen as traumatic are: rape or attempted rape/sexual assault, combat exposure, witnessing violence, physical assault, child sexual abuse, physical abuse, torture, and life-threatening events such as fire, serious earthquake, auto accident, airplane crash or near crash or being subject to violent crime.
The length of treatment varies depending on the type of problems you are dealing with and the treatment modality used. After the initial assessment I will go over the treatment options and can give you a better estimate on the length of treatment. Several factors determine the amount of treatment needed: the extent of the difficulties you are facing currently (ie. The extent of your symptoms and how long you have had them), the amount of support you have in your life now (such as a spouse, significant other, good friends, family), whether you have had prior therapy that was effective, the amount you actively participate in treatment (ie. by being open, following through with suggestions or homework), and your willingness to try new things and work at improving. Short-term therapy is geared toward people who are very motivated, hard working, with good social support, and whose problems have not been longstanding. In trauma treatment a single event trauma will likely be easier to treat with shorter duration of treatment than multiple traumas that began in childhood. Problems that began early in life and are longstanding will require longer treatment. In longer term treatment Dr. Pokrajac incorporates more psychodynamic orientation than in her short-term treatment.
It is helpful to choose a therapist that has training and experience in the areas you struggle with. Do they keep up to date on the most recent treatment approach for your particular problem? If your problem is a more general one, most psychologists likely have training to address your issue. Something specific like PTSD, Dissociative Disorders, and Child Custody are very specific issues requiring specialized training and experience by the psychologist treating you. Besides making sure the therapist is competent to work with your issues, it is important that the therapist’s style is a good fit for you. Often you can get some sense of whether the therapist is right for you from a brief phone consultation, although more commonly in the first session you should be able to gage whether you feel comfortable talking with the psychologist, whether you feel heard and understood, and whether this person can help you. Things to consider: Does the therapist show warmth and care, do they show interest in what you are discussing, do they ask knowledgeable questions and/or give input that is helpful, do they respect your privacy, do they respect your boundaries, did they review their policies and treatment approach, and did they give you an understanding of how they might help. You might want to consider whether there are things in particular you need from a therapist. Some therapists are not available in an emergency. If this is important to you find out their availability in after hours emergency or in a crisis. Also, if you need appointments in the evening or weekends, you need to make sure the therapist is available during the times you need to be seen.