Stephanie Raney, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY19978

Building Healthy Families

123 Di Salvo Ave.
San Jose, California 95128
(408) 603-4213

What to Expect

Hope on a log

Beginning therapy, whether for the first time or with a new therapist, can be a strange experience. You’re expected to share intimate details of some of the hardest things in your life, with a complete stranger—weird, huh?

While I can’t change that fundamental weirdness, I can tell you how I begin with all my clients. Whether you’re new to therapy or have seen another therapist before, you may be wondering how I work.

Before the First Session

Please download, read, and sign my Office Policies and the Contact Information paperwork.

Bring these to our first appointment.

The paperwork can be found on my Forms page.

First Session

At our first appointment, we’ll briefly discuss some paperwork issues, then it’s your opportunity to share with me why you’re seeking help at this time. This first session is your opportunity to decide if I’m a good fit for you and my opportunity to determine if I’m the right therapist for you.

If you are seeking my help for your child, this first appointment DOES NOT include your child. This first session is for one or both parents to share openly the concerns you have about your child, without worrying about your child overhearing.

While I prefer to meet with both parents together for this first appointment, if you and your child’s other parent are in significant conflict this may not be advisable. I can meet with each parent separately for this initial appointment if it makes sense.

Second and Third Sessions for Adult Clients

These sessions are a time for me to learn more about you We’ll likely spend time discussing your current life, your history, and your relationships. After this “information gathering” period, we’ll have discuss my recommendations for treatment, and you can decide if you want to continue in therapy with me. If you think I’m not the right fit for you we’ll work together to find someone who will be a good fit.

Subsequent Sessions with Adult Clients

At this point, we typically meet weekly for sessions. I know that weekly therapy is a significant expense and many people ask if they come every other week. As appealing as this may seem, it is often counter-productive. In order to establish the trust necessary for a new and different relationship, I find that most people require weekly appointments at the beginning of treatment. As therapy progresses, we can re-evaluate the frequency of sessions.

Second and Third Sessions for Child Clients

If you are seeking my help for your child, the second session is when I will meet your child for the first time. This session will include your child and at least one parent, together with me. (If you have questions about how to talk to your child about meeting me for the first time, see below.)

The third session with a child client is typically when I spend time alone with a child. Depending on your child’s age and nature, I will spend part or all of that third session alone with your child. While I ultimately may recommend that I work with you and your child together, this third session is my chance to see what your child is like without you in the room. I think every parent knows, sometimes kids are very different without their parents around.

Treatment Planning Meeting with Parents

After my information gathering sessions, I will meet again with one or both parents to discuss my observations and recommendations. You can decide if I’m a good first for your family. If you think I’m not a good fit for your family, we can discuss other options and find someone who will be a good fit.

“Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.” ⁓Benjamin Hoff

heart on wood

Talking to Your Child about Meeting Me

child's drawing

Most parents ask me what they should tell their child about meeting me for the first time. When a child is struggling with difficult behaviors or emotions, there is usually language the family uses to talk about the problems. In this situation, I advise parents to tell their child they know the issue has been causing problems for everyone, and that the parents think the family deserves help to make things better, for the child and the family.

Even if the family hasn’t spoken openly of the problem, there is often still tension and conflict about the problem that the child is aware of. In this case, I encourage parents to acknowledge the problem to the child—that bedtimes have been hard, or there has been lots of fighting about homework, or the child has seemed unhappy for awhile—then talk about meeting someone to help the family make things better.