Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when I call the PSC for an appointment?

You will speak with one of our graduate student assistants who will ask you a series of questions that we ask everyone who calls the clinic.  The purpose of these questions is to make sure we have the expertise you need to get the best treatment for your concern.  You will also have the opportunity to ask any other questions you might have about the type of services we provide or what to expect if you come in for treatment or assessment at the PSC.  For clients who are placed on our waitlist or who we feel we are unable to provide the services which would suit them best, we provide a list of referrals.  Referrals are the names and numbers of other agencies or individuals who may be able to assist you with your concerns.

How soon will I be seen?

This varies a great deal, and unfortunately we typically cannot promise a particular date.  Availability depends on student training needs, and on the availability of supervisors.  Thus, it makes it difficult to estimate a time.  You may receive a call the next day, or it could be several months.  As a result, we do not recommend services here if you are currently in crisis (e.g., experiencing a lot of distress, or feeling suicidal or homicidal).  We recommend calling 211 and asking for a referral for crisis services in your area, or visiting our Emergencies page for the numbers of several crisis hotlines.

What should I expect if I come to therapy at the PSC?

First, your therapist will spend the first few sessions to get a "big picture" look at how you are doing.  This information is used to help the therapist decide what type of treatment will help you the most.  In some instances, we learn that we do not have the services you need to provide you the best care.  In those instances, you will be referred to another service in the area that will be more effective for you.

As noted on our Services Offered page, we think it is important to offer treatments that the research suggests will help you with your concerns.  Many of the treatments supported by research are somewhat structured.  That is, they contain specific goals, treatment strategies and techniques which are most likely to be helpful.  Typically, therapy sessions are scheduled once per week for 50 minutes (a therapy hour).  For some types of concerns, we suggest treatment should happen more frequently (i.e., 2 times per week).  When you are in the process of ending your treatment, it is not unusual for the therapist and client to decide to "taper" the treatment by meeting less often for a specified period.  Most of our treatments involve asking clients to complete tasks outside of the therapy session.  As 50 minutes per week is only a small portion of your life, it is necessary to try to do some of the things you are working on in treatment outside of the therapy room in order to achieve the progress you are looking for.  Regular attendance at your scheduled sessions is also advised for achieving your best outcome. 

What should I expect if I come to assessment at the PSC?

In order to provide the best assessment which will adequately inform us about your concern, it usually takes several hours to complete the testing portion of the assessment.  Many of the tests we administer must be performed in a certain way in order to be considered accurate.  As such, we ask that you come in for your assessment well rested and not hungry.  You may bring snacks or drinks, if you wish, to maintain your concentration.  Typically, assessments are scheduled over a period of several days.  We do not normally complete entire assessments in one day because most people cannot maintain the concentration and energy required for us to be certain our tests are accurate.  You will work with your assessor to determine how long of an appointment would feel comfortable for you. It is important to keep in mind that it may take some time to receive the results of your assessment.  After we complete testing with you, we must score and interpret the tests, and then write a lengthy report detailing the results.  As a result, you should plan to obtain testing well in advance of any deadlines you might have for academic institutions or testing companies.

Can you do assessments for testing companies (e.g., GMAT, SAT, LSAT, etc.)?

The answer to this will depend on the requirements of your testing company.  Typically, each testing company has a list of tests they want administered to evaluate for particular problems.  You need to obtain this list for us so that we can make sure we have the testing materials needed in our clinic.  Another common issue concerns the fact we are a training clinic.  You need to verify with your testing company their requirements for the person who completes the assessment.  You can tell them the testing would be conducted by a doctoral student in clinical psychology under the supervision of a psychologist, and verify this arrangement will be satisfactory.  Another important factor to consider is that our students (and some of our supervisors) are temporary.  Thus, if you need further documentation completed at a later date, your assessor and the case supervisor may not be available to provide this service. 

Anything else I should know about assessments?

If you have been previously evaluated it is important for us to know which testing materials were used.  This is most important if you completed the prior evaluation recently (i.e., in the past few years), as we would want to administer an alternative test.  Another important factor to keep in mind is that testing does not always result in desired accommodations.  Testing companies and schools have their own set of requirements about what type of problem must be documented in order to provide accommodations.  In addition, not everyone who experiences academic difficulty shows problems on testing.  However, we always provide recommendations that we feel will help with your success, regardless of whether you end up receiving accommodations at your academic institution/testing company.

What should I bring with me to my appointment?

When we complete an assessment or an initial evaluation for therapy, we typically need a large amount of information in order for us to best evaluate your problem.  It may be useful for you to bring reminders or information to your appointment to assist in information gathering.  For example, you could write down dates you have completed other treatments or try to think about when your concerns first started and jot down some notes prior to your appointment.  If you are currently seeing another provider or psychiatrist, we usually ask if you are willing to sign a release so that we can communicate with those individuals to provide you better treatment.  Thus, it may be useful for you to bring your psychiatrist's contact information and the current dosages of your medications.  Some clients also find it useful to bring in a list of goals for treatment.  For assessments, we usually need to get a clear picture of your academic performance, especially for questions of learning disabilities or giftedness.  Thus, any school records or prior evaluations would be useful to bring in for your assessment appointment.

Why am I charged when I miss a session without cancelling?

We charge for missed, uncancelled sessions because our therapists often spend that time dedicated to your care.  Because we are a training clinic, our therapists have many other responsibilities -- classes, meetings, teaching, research -- and often come to campus or over to the clinic only for your appointment.  In addition, we wish to encourage clients to attend sessions regularly and be committed to treatment in order to achieve the best outcome. 

Everything I tell my therapist is private, right?

Yes, but with some exceptions.  As your therapist will discuss with you when you come in for your first appointment, your records are confidential, but there are a few exceptions to this confidentiality.  The first is if we are concerned you might do something to seriously harm yourself.  The second is if we are concerned you plan to harm another person.  The third is if we become aware of, or suspicious of, the occurrence of child or elder abuse.  We are mandated by law to report our suspicions, regardless of whether the abuse was conducted by you or someone you know.  The fourth instance in which we may have to disclose information about you is if we are ordered to so by a court of law.  In all of these instances, the therapist will almost always discuss with you that they must make a disclosure prior to doing so.

Why isn't video recording optional?

We video record all of our sessions because our intent is to provide you with high quality care.  Because we are a training clinic, we want to make sure our therapists are able to receive the best possible supervision so that they get the best training, and you receive the best care.  We feel the best way to accomplish that is when we can see and hear both the client and therapist.  We take the utmost care to protect your confidentiality, and your recordings are only viewed for the purposes of training and supervision.  They are deleted regularly unless you have expressly given your permission for us to keep them by signing a separate, written consent.

What if I have a complaint?

Our mission is to provide high quality care at the PSC, and thus we want to address any complaints you might have as quickly as possible.  You have the right to ask to speak to your therapist's supervisor at any time.  You can also call the Clinic Director, Dr. Shannon Couture, at 213-740-6620 to discuss any complaints.  In addition, you have the right to contact the California Board of Psychology with complaints:

NOTICE TO CONSUMERS: The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology receives and responds to questions and complaints regarding the practice of psychology. If you have questions or complaints you may contact the Board on the Internet at www.psychboard.ca.gov, by e-mailing bopmail@dca.ca.gov, calling 1-866-503-3221 or writing to the following address:
                  Board of Psychology, 1625 North Market Street, Ste N-215 Sacramento CA 95834