Scott Harris, Ph.D. Frequently Asked Questions


Therapy for Adults

Therapy for Children and Adolescents

Therapy for Adults in Los Angeles

Why should I go to therapy…do I need it?
Usually people will go to see a psychologist because there is a problem in their life. It could be related to work, family, relationships and/or self. Psychologists are trained to work with many different types of individual problems. Some people are referred by loved ones, doctors, or by people at work. Sometimes the idea comes from the individual who is tired of having the same problem and wants to get some help.


What will it be like?
In the first session there will be a lot of questions asked about you, your life, and about why you are here. We will also discuss your past, your growing up and your past relationships as they may pertain to the present problem. I am also interested in the ways that you have tried to get help, or helped yourself, in the past…what has worked and what hasn’t.

Some of the questions will guide our discussion, and are intended to check on issues that may be relevant for us to work on. You may decide what is important to talk about regarding your story and your problem and also the struggles you have experienced.

Will I like therapy?
Usually it helps to vent and express oneself and tell your story. It is also usually comforting to know that someone understands and can help. Sometimes by the time  people come to see me, they feel that their problems are hopeless and that they have tried to no avail.

At first, and at certain times, therapy can be uncomfortable. However, it is usually a great relief to feel heard and understood.  It is important that you feel you have the right therapist for you,  that he/she is helping you and that there is progress to the therapy. The problem should get better.


What if I am nervous or scared?
It is entirely normal to feel scared when you start therapy…this may be uncharted territory for some people. It can help to talk about your fears and apprehensions regarding your therapy.


How long will I be going?
That all depends on the individual, the problem and the person’s motivation to work. Therapy is not always easy and it requires work, - emotional work - in order to change some things in your life … for the better. The goal is to help you with specific unresolved issues or problems, to help you change and re-direct your life for the better.

How do I know if it is working?
You should be feeling better and more hopeful, though not necessarily all of the time. Therapy is about starting the process of change. Sometimes change is slow and takes time. Hopefully you will begin noticing differences in your behavior, your thinking, and your sense of well-being.


When is therapy over?
This is usually mutually decided by therapist and client. Sometimes it is when all of the issues or goals in therapy have been met or reasonably resolved. Sometimes it is when your need for a therapist changes. At times sessions will be tapered off so that the ending of therapy is more gradual.


What about confidentiality?
The work and the relationship between the therapist and the client are private and confidential. This relationship, in order to be effective, is based upon communication and trust. Psychologists are bound by their professional ethics and by law to maintain the confidentiality of their clients. There are a few exceptions to this that involve when a client is an extreme danger to themselves or others, and certain instances, when clients are in extreme danger, themselves.

Therapy for Children and Adolescents

How is child therapy different than adult therapy?
Child therapy usually involves some play therapy as well as a talking therapy. Toys, games, books or projects (drawing, coloring) may be part of the process along with talking.

With adolescents there is less play and more talk. The importance is in developing a trusting relationship. Also, therapy with children and adolescents does involve the parents throughout treatment.

What should I expect – child
Usually when a child is involved, I like to meet with the parents alone first to discuss the presenting problems and concerns, and to find out more about the background of the child and the family. The next session will begin with meeting all together with the family, and then spending a little bit of time individually with the child if he/she is comfortable.

I like to clarify with the child and the family what I do and how I can help. Towards the conclusion of the session I will try to discuss a plan of what I will hope to accomplish in the therapy. I will also make some suggestions regarding what the child and family can do to help facilitate and support the therapy, such as school contacts, behavioral charts, referrals to other professionals.

What should I expect – teen
When a teen is involved I usually like to meet with the whole family together in the first session to talk about the problems and issues of the family. I take the remaining part of this assessment spending time getting to know your teen. It is important at this time that a beginning connection is made … it is important that your teen feels understood and listened to. Issues of confidentiality and privacy are also discussed with the teen and the family.


How are parents involved?
Parts of the therapy session may involve parents for both child and adolescent therapy. Sometimes a family session is necessary or a parent counseling session with just parents alone. This all depends on the particular situation, problem, family and individual child/adolescent.


What do we tell our kids?
For younger children it may help to tell them they are going to see a “talking” or “feelings” doctor, someone who plays and talks with kids and their families. For older children sometimes it helps to talk about the problem that the family may be having.


How are kids referred to therapy?
Kids may be referred to therapy in different ways by different professionals. Sometimes parents decide that they need help with a particular problem or behavior at home or at school. They may look for a therapist online or ask a trusted professional such as a pediatrician or family doctor, a teacher or a school counselor or principal, a minister or a rabbi, or maybe just a good friend who has had a good experience with a particular therapist.


How do I know if it is working?
Therapy is about starting the process of change. Sometimes change is slow and takes time. Over time, you should notice differences in your child’s behavior and sense of well-being. School work may improve, relationships get better, and the child’s attitude changes.


When is therapy over?
This is usually mutually decided by therapist and client’s family, with significant input from the child/adolescent. Sometimes it is when all of the issues or goals in therapy have been met or reasonably resolved. At times sessions will be tapered off so that the ending of therapy is more gradual.


Scott Harris, Ph.D. provides caring and compassionate therapy for adults, children and adolescents in Los Angeles.