Do you have a question? Check out this section for the most commonly asked questions.
How long did it take you to become a Psychologist?
I like to tell kids that I completed the 24th grade. The look on their face is of incredulity and horror.
Here's the breakdown for me:
Undergraduate Studies at UCLA- 5 years (one year was spent in Spain)
Graduate Studies at the University of Denver- 4 years
APA Approved Internship (a clinical doctoral student must complete a 2000 hour internship in order to officially graduate)- 1 year
APA Approved Fellowship (this was not required but the best way to complete the minimum 3000 hours for licensure and gain additional specialized training/expertise)- 2 years
So total of 12 years post high school to obtain the Psy.D. degree.
However, in order to get licensed as a psychologist in the State of California with the Board of Psychology, I had to successfully pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Law and Ethics Exam (CPLEE).
Yet, the learning never quite stops and every two years, I am required by the Board of Psychology in CA to take 36 hours of Continuing Education Credits.
There are some psychologists who graduate with a PhD or PsyD who do not complete the rigorous licensure requirements to get licensed as a psychologist. Instead, they may choose to use their previous licensure or obtain licensure as a LMFT or LCSW (see below for steps to becoming a LMFT/LCSW).
What’s a Psychologist? What's the difference between a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Social Worker and Marriage/Family Therapist?
- Psychologists (Ph.D or Psy.D) have a doctorate degree and have received extensive education and training (4-6 years). We are trained to work as clinicians with clients, conduct psychological assessment and testing, conduct research and/or teach doctoral level courses.
- Psychiatrists (M.D. or D.O) are individuals who have attended medical school (approximately 4 years). They completed an internship/residency in psychiatry (4 years for adult psychiatry and 5 years for child/adolescent psychiatry) and have the ability to prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists also conduct psychotherapy (talk therapy) as well.
- LCSW vs LPCC vs LMFT compete two years of training and also complete a certain number of hours in order to gain licensure.
How do I pick the right therapist for me?
I like to compare choosing a therapist to online dating. You have to read a lot of profiles and narrow it down to a few people according to the best fit for your needs (their training, their expertise, etc). Then you actually have to talk to them (most offer a complimentary 10-15 minute phone consult) and maybe even meet in person. Sometimes it will be a great fit on the first try and sometimes, you may have to go back to the drawing board. But essentially the questions you have to ask yourself are, "Can I trust this person?" and "Do I believe this person can help me?"
Because, as you can see from the answers above, all of us in the helping profession have various levels of training and offer different types of interventions and styles. However, at the end of the day, research shows that the MOST important factor in the process of change in therapy is the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client.
How long will therapy take?
It all really depends on what you are coming to therapy for and your treatment goals.
Oftentimes in the beautiful, but complex and intricate journey of therapy; things oftentimes may appear to get "worse" before they get better. I like to compare it to opening up many cans of worms that you have kept hidden and locked away for a long time. It's scary to look at ourselves squarely in the eye but I do believe in change and believe this happens when the "day came that the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anais Nin
How long will psychological testing take?
It depends on what type of testing you are seeking; whether it be an ADHD evaluation, cognitive assessment, or personality, etc. Testing time can range anywhere between 2-8 hours in which we would meet face to face at my office. There would be breaks depending on the flow of testing. My goal is to get accurate results and so if you or your child begin to fatigue, we may have to schedule an additional day of testing. I may also give you to various self-report (for yourself) or parent forms to fill out (for your child) via paper form or via a link to a secure website.
After completion of the assessment, I will have the report ready for you within two weeks. Expedited reports can be available with additional fee. I will then invite you back for the feedback session where I verbally present the results of the test and also provide you with the written report. If there are any discrepancies or concerns, updates and modifications to the report can be made.
Therefore, a total of at least two separate meetings (one meeting for the intake and testing and one meeting for the feedback session).
How long is a typical gender affirmation surgery evaluation for top surgery/bottom surgery, etc?
Typically between 1.5-2 hours depending on your history (any previous evaluations, reports, mental health concerns, etc).
My goal is not to be a gate-keeper but instead to help you reach your goal of living in your desired gender. However, I do follow the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) standards which states:
- Persistent, well-documented gender dysphoria
- Capacity to make a fully informed decision and to consent for treatment
- Be of the age of majority in the country of surgery (and follow SOC rules for children and adolescents*)
- Significant medical or mental health concerns, if present, must be reasonably well controlled at the time of surgery
My evaluation will consist of a thorough clinical interview, review of any previous medical/mental health records, review of any letters of endorsement by previous therapists, and a questionnaire to assess for current mental health functioning.
If all criteria are met, I will provide a letter indicating medical necessity of the gender affirmation surgery directly to your provider and/or insurance company (with a signed release of information) along with a comprehensive report within 3-5 business days. I will also provide you with a copy.
If your application for gender affirmation surgery is denied or rejected for a specific reason, I am more than happy to work with you to re-write a compelling and strongly worded appeal letter.
Why don't you take insurance?
Currently, I have a small practice and can only see a small number of clients. In order to maintain the highest level of commitment and time to my clients, I have decided not to take insurance. This may change in the future, but for now, it is cash, check, credit card and/or PayPal.
Is everything I talk about really confidential?
A patient of mine recently said, "Coming to you is just like going to Las Vegas. What is said in Dr. Diep's office, stays in Dr. Diep's office!" I had a good chuckle...
- If you disclose to me that you want to hurt yourself or someone else
- If there is abuse or neglect of children, elders or people with disabilities
- If there is a court order by a judge
In addition, when working with adolescents and other minors I create a separate "limits of confidentiality" contract between the guardians/parents and the young person. All parties need to agree upon the contract so the child/adolescent knows they can disclose certain private things and I will not share with their parents. This helps foster rapport, trust and a relationship between myself and your teen. However, please know that if there are any potential safety concerns that parents and/or other authorities will be involved as needed.
Most parents I work with understand this agreement and are just relieved that their child/teen wants to talk to someone!