Center for Solution-Focused Training





Current and former clients: please let me know how our work together was helpful to you.
I see that you're a social worker. Can social workers do therapy?

Want to know what other clients have said about working with me? Click here.

What is solution-focus brief therapy?

The basic ideas for solution-focus brief therapy began over 30 years ago.  Steve de Shazer became interested in what people do that help them find solutions to the problems that brought them into his office.  This was a very different way of thinking about therapy (it still is).  Most therapy is practiced from a theory.   So the client is viewed through the lens of the therapist's theoretical orientation.  What de Shazer was doing was very different; he was learning what works from clients who were figuring things out.  De Shazer learned to ask useful questions and these questions helped the client think in more positive and useful ways about their predicaments.   As he developed these useful questions from the clients, he applied them to other clients keeping the ones that work.  Later with his wife, Insoo Kim Berg, and other therapists at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they continued to research and develop the solution-focused approach.  Finally in 1982, they called what they were doing, solution-focus brief therapy.  I think a useful way of grasping what solution focus is about is to imagine that someone says to a therapist that they have a problem 98% of their waking hours.  The traditional therapist who might practice from a problem focused approach would want to know a lot about the 98%.  The solution-focused therapist would be interested in the 2%.   TOP

What is the difference between brief therapy and short-term therapy?

The focus of short-term therapy is usually on the number of sessions.  For example, the therapist might tell the client that they have 20 sessions together and anything that is to be accomplished will have to be completed within the 20 sessions.  Brief therapy, as we define it, is as many sessions as necessary to develop a satisfactory solution to the problem that motivated you to seek help and not one session more or less than that.  In my experience as a brief therapist, I usually find that brief therapy is actually shorter than short-term therapy.  

But my problems are very complicated; won't I need a lot of sessions?

That would be true if we focused on the problems rather than what you want to be different and more satisfying in your life.  I suppose it's like taking a trip.  By having a specific direction (goal), there's a much better chance you're going to get somewhere useful and get there more briefly than without a plan.  In fact, The Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change , a well respected book that covers over 60 years of psychotherapy research, states that in comparative studies of brief and time unlimited therapy there are virtually no differences in  terms of both long-term and short-term results.  

What should I expect when I meet with you?

Before we first meet, I will ask you to think about how you will know that our meetings together are being useful to you.  This will be the question that will begin our journey together.  Pretty much the rest of the time will be spent putting the details on that difference.  Once I've gathered as much information about your vision of a better future as I need, I'll probably take a break, go off by myself, review my notes, think about our conversation, and then return to share those thoughts with you.  I might (and probably will) have a suggestion of something for you to do, or think about after you return home.    

 How often will we meet?

Whether we will continue to meet, how often, and when we should schedule our next appointment will be your decision to make.  There's no evidence to show that there's any advantage in meeting weekly.  My experience tells me that most of what happens that moves therapy in a positive direction occurs between sessions: in your real life.    

How much do you charge?

I charge $65 each session for the first four sessions and $85 each session for any additional sessions.  Because I work briefly, usually 3 or 4 sessions are sufficient to get you on track.  The first session is often longer than the others.  I don't stick rigidly to a 50 minute session; it could be longer, it could be shorter depending upon what we accomplish together.    

Do you have a sliding scale?

With the fee schedule above, there really isn't a need.  But, if $65 is still too much, talk to me - we'll work out something.  I can also process credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) if that's more convenient for you.   

Do you take insurance?

I've often struggled with this question.   I think that managed care puts a third person in-between a therapist and the client and makes treatment decisions that should best be made together by a therapist and the client. Having said that, I realize the financial responsibilities that we all have.  While reluctant to do so, I have applied to become a provider for a number of health care organizations. Insurance companies most often  make the decision to accept or reject a clinician based soley on the number of providers already registered with them  in any given region.  As I am accepted, I will post the insurances companies with whom I'm affiliated here.  If you are interested in my approach and working with me, most insurance companies have a way of "nominating" a provider.  You can call your own company or search their website for further information.        

Nechtem EAP
AETNA (out of network)
ValueOptions (CHCS, Empire, Medicare Advantage, MVP Medicare Network, Great West Health Plan, ValueOptions 
      Commercial Non HMO, MVP Commercial HMO Network, MVP Commercial Non HMO Network-IPA, Emblem
      HMO, Emblem Medicare, Emblem Medicaid)
Fidelis Care
Empire Blue Cross
Beacon Health Strategies
Affinity Health Plan
Hudson Health Plan (mental health services are administered by Beacon Health Strategies)
Touchstone Health
Catholic Charities of Orange County (EAP and Parish Counseling Network)
Multiplan PHCS, PHCS Savility
Empire Plan (NY State Employees)

I also take Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

PLEASE NOTE: Since the Affortable Care Act, many insurance companies now offer a low cost policy with a high deductible. If you are insured by your employer, you may also be insured under a high deductible policy in order to keep costs down. What this means is that you must first pay out of pocket before your insurance will cover services. The deductible can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Before you call for an appointment, I suggest that you contact your insurance company and ask about your policy so there won't be any surprises.


I don't live near you, but I would really like the idea of working solution-focused.  Can this be arranged?

Absolutely. You can check with the following webpage:  Here you will find a list of therapists who state that they practice solution-focus.  If you are interested in working with me specifically, it is possible to do this even if your don't live near-by.  I have done phone counseling with clients in other parts of this country and other countries as well.

I also have an internet meeting site. You can complete a contact form and let me know of your interest. Just prior to your session date, I will email instructions.

Payment for therapy sessions can be made on-line. See the therapy payment page.

Be aware that there are many therapists who claim to be solution focused who are anything but solution focused. For more information about how to judge whether someone is really solution focused, click here or watch this video by clicking on the picture (requires Adobe Flash).



All right, I'm ready to make the move.  How do I contact you to set up our first appointment?

That's simple: contact me or call 845-778-7106.


If you are a current or a former client and would be willing to give feedback of your experience, you can do so by going to the feedback page. Want to know what other clients have said about working with me? Click here.


I see that you're a social worker. Can social workers do therapy?

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), I am recognized by New York State as having the education, training and experience that allows me to "diagnose and treat mental illness." We have many years of meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcome (meta-analysis is the results of various studies on therapy). Some of this research outcome compares the effectiveness of different professional disciplines. Here are a few relevant quotes:

"It should be emphasized that few differences in outcome rates have been found among therapists of different disciplines, however among therapists representing the three major mental health professions [psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers], social workers adopted a more direct and problem-centered approach to treatment and when differences in outcome rates did accrue, they tended to favor social workers." (Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change, 3rd edition).

"Respondents were asked to reate the severity of their problem at the time they sought treatment and again at the end. A very similar percentage of those seeing psychologists and those seeing psychiatrists indicated that they had improved on this scale. Those who saw social workers, however, rated their improvement somewhat higher." (Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change, 5th edition).

Simply put, in terms of positive outcome from psychotherapy, social workers did at least as well as psychiatrists and psychologists. One last note, when psychiatrists were recently surveyed, it was found that 90% reported that they no longer did psychotherapy.


For further information contact Joel

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