What is a licensed psychologist?

A psychologist is a doctoral-trained professional who evaluates and treats a full range of emotional and psychological challenges, conducts research, and performs testing. Their license certifies the completion of extensive educational and training requirements, and authorizes the psychologist to independently diagnose and treat mental disorders and other psychological problems. After a license has been granted, the psychologist must continue his or her professional education, and must maintain the highest professional and ethical standards of practice and conduct.

How do psychologists differ from other types of mental health professionals?

Psychologists receive more education and training in psychology and mental health service than any other mental health professional—often requiring seven years beyond the undergraduate degree. A clinical psychologist may provide counseling and psychotherapy but will also draw from rigorous scientific research to ensure that treatments are effective and well matched to what the client wants. Clinical psychologists will often be more “active” than psychotherapists and counselors. Clinical psychologists do not currently prescribe drugs but most will have a good understanding of relevant medicines and will be able to identify when you should consult your doctor for medical help.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an initial appointment you can call me at (832) 437-6260. I will ask you some basic background questions about you and about your reason for seeking help as I want to make sure that I am the best person to help you.  I can then Email you instructions to make an appointment online or we can make an appointment over the phone, whichever is easier for you.

Does Dr. Valdés take insurance?

I want to focus my energy on client care and so am not a provider for insurance panels. However, most insurance companies will provide mental health coverage at the “out of network” level. These benefits vary greatly by company so please check with your insurance company so that you know your plan’s deductible as well as the percentage of reimbursement you are likely to receive.  I will be happy to provide you with a receipt and the appropriate form (which includes the necessary diagnostic and procedure codes) for you to submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement. You would be reimbursed at the “out of network” provider level.

If the appointment is for a child, who should come to the first appointment?

If the therapy/assessment is for a child, only the parents should come to the first appointment. This is a good time to talk freely without fear of making the child uncomfortable by talking about him/her in their presence. During the second session, either the parent and the child come in together or the child can come in independently. I will spend all of this second session getting to know the child and helping them feel comfortable in the office.

How long do the sessions last?

A typical session lasts for 50 minutes. After the session, I spend about 10 minutes documenting a progress note.

What can I expect from my initial session?

During the first session, I will gather detailed information about the reason you are seeking help and what goals you hope to reach with our work. At the end of the first session, we will develop a plan for how to work on the concern that brings you here.

Will the things I discuss in therapy be kept private?

Confidentiality is an important part of psychology’s code of ethics. Psychologists understand that for people to feel comfortable talking about private and revealing information, they need a safe place to talk about anything they’d like, without fear of that information leaving the room. They take your privacy very seriously.  So that you can share what you need to and get the best care you can, laws are also in place to protect your privacy. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains a privacy rule that creates national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and personal health information, including information about psychotherapy and mental health. In some specific situations, however, psychologists may be required to share specific information to protect the safety of the client or that of others. For example, where there is a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or elder adult physical abuse or where there is a reasonable suspicion that the client presents a danger of violence to himself or others.

About how long will therapy take until the problem gets better?

Minor, major, and multiple problems take different amounts of therapy time (both frequency of session and duration of the therapy). Most clients see me once per week for 3 to 4 months but most clients feel increased optimism in a few sessions, with lessened anxiety, or depression in 10-15 sessions. Be aware that others may notice changes before you do! An important part of therapy for both children and adults will be practicing new skills that you will learn in our sessions. Change will sometimes be easy and quick, but more often, it will take a good amount of time and you will learn new ways of looking at the problem that will be very helpful for changing feelings and reactions.

What if I need medication?

I am a psychologist and so I do not prescribe or can even recommend considering specific medication. However, if we both feel that there is a possibility that medicine might be helpful, I will refer you to a psychiatrist who can assess that possibility further. If the psychiatrist determines that medication may be helpful, the psychiatrist and I will collaborate and communicate frequently to make sure that you are getting the best care possible from both us.