Your First Visit and Other FAQ

What can I expect at my first appointment?
Our first meeting is an assessment, lasting 50 minutes. I ask a lot of questions and take notes. I make an initial attempt to get to know you, to hear what brings you to therapy, and to understand the factors, past and present, that influence your life. I will ask about what troubles you, what you think about, and what kinds of people and activities you like. I want to hear about your family and other relationships that matter to you.

I understand that it can be difficult to talk about these things with a stranger. If you are uncomfortable responding to some of my questions, we can postpone them to another time. I will give you feedback and the chance to ask me any questions.  We will talk about how we would like to proceed.  In subsequent meetings, we will likely expand on some of these topics, but I will ask fewer questions and take fewer notes. You will be taking the lead in exploring what’s on your mind.

Where are you located?
My office is at 14 Aiken Avenue, one block from Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. There is free on-street parking and the office is walking distance from Princeton public schools, Princeton University and Westminster Choir College. Click here for a map and directions.

What are your hours?
Regular office hours are Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM, and Friday, 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Other hours may be available as needed.

How often do people usually meet with you?
Most clients see me once a week for a 45-50 minute session. Some have multiple sessions a week, and others, especially those in later stages of therapy, might come every other week.

What are your fees? Do you take insurance?
The fee is $175 per session, payable by check or cash at each meeting.  I do not participate in any medical insurance plans. However, many insurance companies will provide reimbursement for out-of network psychotherapists and I provide all clients with an invoice with information for insurance company reimbursement.  You might want to contact your insurance company to find out how much they will pay for my services.

I also offer a sliding scale to a small percentage of clients, mostly students, who have no insurance or insufficient insurance to afford full fees.  If I do not have any open sliding scale slots, I will refer you to another therapist.

Are all sessions in person? Can we meet by phone or via video conferencing?
I always begin with in-person appointments, for at least the first several sessions, because I think face-to-face contact is important in creating a comfortable and productive therapeutic relationship. After that, for some clients, I can do sessions by phone or via video conferencing.

Do I need medications or other treatment in addition to psychotherapy?
Some people doing psychotherapy take psychotropic medications; others do not. If you do see a psychiatrist, physician, or other treatment provider I would appreciate your consent to contact him or her so that we can share information to provide you with the best possible care.  If I recommend you consult with a psychiatrist or physician, we will talk about why I think it would help in your treatment.  Other treatment or practices, such as 12-step programs, nutritional counseling, or meditation, can sometimes be a helpful adjunct to psychotherapy.

Will you keep things I tell you confidential?
In almost all cases, yes. As a therapist, I have both an ethical and a legal obligation to keep what you tell me confidential. I won’t divulge your private information without your permission, except where I’m required to by law. For example, if I am worried that you might harm yourself or others, or that there is the abuse or neglect of children or the elderly, I might be required by the law to break confidentiality. If you have any questions about this, we can talk about this during our first session.

What are your areas of specialization?
Some people believe that therapists should specialize in particular disorders or issues. In the past I have listed personal trauma, including childhood sexual and emotional abuse, and couple counseling as my specialties. I now believe that a more diverse therapy practice can provide a superior psychotherapeutic experience.  I work with people dealing with depression, anxiety, sadness, grief and loss, communications problems, relationship difficulties, academic and vocational struggles, illness, anger, self esteem, eating and body image, substance abuse, attention deficits and self-destructive behaviors. If you have problems that I believe requires special expertise that I don’t have, such as schizophrenia, autism, or anorexia, I will gladly refer you to another therapist.

What types of people do you see?
I work with a diverse range of people. I serve people of widely varying life experiences, ages, ethnicities, sexual and gender identities, nationalities, personalities, cultures, and beliefs. My practice includes students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, academics, artists, writers, religious leaders, business people, corporate executives, health care workers, and homemakers. If I don’t have familiarity with what makes you tick, I will learn what I need to know to enable us to work together to make changes you want to enrich and improve your life.

How do you work with couples?
I see clients dealing with relationship issues both individually and in couples. Some couples choose to do therapy together; some couples each see therapists individually; others do a combination of the two. We can talk how couples therapy differs from individual therapy and what makes most sense for you.

How do you spell your name?
My first name is spelled Susanne. But for Google or anyone else who might search for a psychotherapist in Princeton named Susan Hand or Suzanne Hand, hopefully this will ensure that they will find me.