Frequently Asked Questions
"I had no idea what to expect when I first reached out for support at GCS. Recovery and therapy were out of my comfort zone. I am so thankful that I pushed past my resistance and got the help I needed. I no longer live a life that is filled with regrets. That angry guy is gone, and I can actually say I wake up happy these days. Thank you Mari!"
Many of the clients that we work with have a lot of questions at the start of therapy. Having your questions answered kindly, directly and respectfully is important when making the decision to enter individual, couples, or group therapy. Answers to the most common client questions are below:
Q: What should I expect in my first session?
Setting up your first counseling session is a courageous step in your healing journey and we commend your efforts in doing so. You and your GCS therapist will meet for a first session to discuss your current challenges, and if it feels like a good fit, we will set up your initial therapy goals, schedule a regular time to meet, and go over your first focus task and counseling homework/exercise.
Q: Is the first session free?
All therapy sessions are paid for including the first session. You can visit the fee page to learn more about this.
Q: I am embarrassed about what I need help with!
It is understandable that you may feel nervous about sharing a part of your life that you may have never discussed before. A therapist's role is not to pass judgement. Instead, the counselors at GCS provide a safe place for clients to share their concerns and challenges - sometimes for the very first time in their lives. Step-by-step you will find that as our clinical relationship grows, so will your trust. There is a great saying that we often share with our clients, "We are only as sick as the secrets we keep." Having a safe place to heal and grow with solid support along the way is important - and nothing to be ashamed about.
Q: Can you fix me?
Our goal is to help people navigate through difficulties in their life and relationships while providing healthy tools and an action plan in supporting each client toward important changes. We provide a safe and focused process with a specialized recovery plan where clients move toward healing, recovery, self-acceptance, and ultimately grow and thrive in a supportive environment. While we will meet you each step of the way in your therapy process with compassion and empathy, a therapist is not a cure all, a parent, a friend, nor a miracle worker. We believe that every single human being has the capacity for choice and change and we partner with our clients with this in mind.
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
We have a 72 hour cancellation policy. As long as a client calls 72 hours in advance to cancel, there is no charge. It is understandable that once in awhile an appointment might be cancelled or missed due to sudden illness or emergency during our work together. However, due to our wait list, the current client schedule does not allow for continual cancellations, rescheduled appointments, or no shows. Because a regular session day/time has been reserved specifically for each client, if a client cancels later than 72 hours, we ask that they honor the fee agreement for their session which has been reserved for them.
One of the things that I love in working with you Mari is that you take time to answer my questions and give me practical information that I can use everyday. It feels good to finally feel valued and worthy in my life."
Q: How long will I be in therapy?
Therapy is a process that is unique to each client and the challenges they are presenting with. Some challenges can be worked on very effectively in a fairly short period of time (10-20 sessions). Other challenges may take much longer. It can be difficult to predict exactly how long therapy will last and this is best discussed during our first session after we go over a focused treatment plan and goals that you will be working toward. A helpful guideline to consider is if you attend 40 therapy sessions over our time together, that is about the same amount of time as an average work week. If you have questions regarding the length of treatment, please feel free to discuss this with with your counselor at your first session and at any point during therapy.
Q: My job takes me out of town, on tour, or on location frequently, how do you work with clients like me?
Some of the GCS clients are entertainers or business professionals who travel, tour, or are on location on a fairly regular basis. For California based clients who are on the road frequently, we will set up teletherapy sessions (phone) in advance with the agreement that the client meets with his or her GCS therapist when in town for office sessions. Because the therapists at GCS are licensed in the State of California, we do not work with clients who move out of state permanently. We will help transition clients who relocate to another therapist within that state.
Q: I am a recognizable person due to my job in sports, politics, entertainment or other such areas. How do you work with high profile clients and confidentiality?
Therapy is best experienced in an atmosphere of trust. Thus, all therapy services are strictly confidential and may not be revealed to anyone without your written permission. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the therapists' work at GCS. We do not discuss the identity of the clients that we work with, no matter what their fame or status, as every single client deserves a safe place to heal with their privacy and boundaries respected. There are some exceptions to confidentiality which are outlined in the GCS therapy forms.
Q: Myself or my spouse deals with compulsive sexual behaviors. Is "sex addiction real"?
While it is important to remember that "sex addiction" is not a current diagnosis in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that therapists use to diagnosis client), the term "sex addiction" is now a very prevalent part of our every day language. It is also how many clients self identify when seeking treatment for their impulsive choices around sexual acting out. However, no matter how one labels impulsive sexual choices, the clients GCS work with deal with the very real and devastating consequences of their secret and usually deceptive sexual choices - often confusing intensity for intimacy and hurting themselves and the ones they love. These consequences can include: broken relationships, a pervasive sense of shame and self loathing, arrests, lack of motivation, academic suspension, diminished respect and trust, job loss and other such difficulties. To learn more about this, please read the client informed consent form here.
Q: Group therapy feels intimidating to me, what are the benefits of group therapy?
For Sexually Disordered and Compulsive Clients: Because isolation and secrecy are a typical part of the acting out process in sexual disorders, group therapy is an important addition to individual therapy to help the client move from sexual intensity, secrecy and chaos, to non-sexual healthy group interactions. Sexually impulsive and wounded clients learn to move out of shame and fear, into healthy relationships and connections where they can practice tools, learn how to have their words and behaviors match up, understand how to self regulate, practice boundaries, and receive healing support and safe accountability.
For the Betrayed Partner and Spouse: The group experience can be one of the first healing steps in conjunction with individual therapy that allows the wounded partner or spouse a safe place to process their anger, betrayal and pain with other partners and spouses who have been there. Many women share that they feel too ashamed to speak to friends and family, or are worried that people will judge their spouse; having a support system available is a critical first step alongside therapy. Women learn to practice self care, boundaries, and other important tools to move them along in their healing journey.
Q: Where is your office located?
The Growth Counseling Services office is located in Southern California in the city of Glendora. You can find directions and a map to the office here.
Q: How do I determine if you are the right therapist for me?
Finding a therapist that you can build trust and rapport with is very important and unique to each person. As such, we encourage people seeking therapy to do their homework. If you are looking for specialized treatment in a specific area, be sure that the therapist has the license, qualifications, certifications, and experience to provide this treatment. Just as you would not see an eye doctor to heal a spine injury, it is equally important to find a therapist who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area that you need support in. You will want to ask questions such as:
1. What kind of license do you have?
2. Are you an expert in your advertised specialization?
3. Where were you certified in this specialization?
4. How long have have you been working as a therapist?
5. What is your fee?
Having your questions answered in a clear and respectful manner is important - do your homework, and trust your gut when choosing your therapist. You can learn more about our Founding Direction, Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S qualifications and experience on the About Mari page. For clients interested in working with GCS, we typically have a wait list and recommend that we meet for a first session to discuss your current challenges and to see if it feels like a good fit for both of us. If so, then we welcome the opportunity to support your healing journey. If not, then we are happy to provide you with three referrals that you can explore as other options.
Q: What is your style of therapy?
The GCS style is focused, goal oriented, honest, challenging, compassionate and direct with solid boundaries, accountability and empathy. We work with clients using a collaborative approach incorporating specific tools, therapy homework, and exercises.
If you are looking for a 'bobble head' therapist to silently nod and sympathize while you sit on a couch and complain about your life, then we are not the counseling center for you. We work with clients who are ready to move forward, take ownership of their healing, and team up with their therapist so that they can make positive choices for change and growth.
We do not believe that individual or group therapy is supposed to last forever, instead feel it is a season of healing and support that can be beneficial for every person facing a difficult crossroads in their life. We want our clients to get the most out of their work with their GCS therapist, and we understand value the trust and commitment and anticipate change and movement with our clients.
Q: What other experience does Mari have?
Mari's pre-therapeutic professional background includes executive level positions in advertising, fundraising, and as the owner and Creative Director of a successful design firm for over a decade.
In addition to her private practice work as the founder of Growth Counseling Services, Inc., she was trained and certified through the California Association of Batterer's Treatment Program (C.A.B.I.P.) to work in the area of domestic violence. She has experience in the clinical non-profit arena where she worked therapeutically for many years with children, adolescents, adults and families in the areas of sexual abuse, anger management, trauma, domestic violence, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.
Mari is a sought after presenter and speaker, and supervises and trains other therapists. She is well respected in the areas of sex addiction and is often interviewed on partner's trauma.
Over the years, Mari has facilitated a variety of therapeutic groups including court mandated Domestic Violence Male and Female Batterers groups, Parent Education, Female Domestic Violence Survivors, Grand Parenting as Parents, and S.T.A.R. (Strengthen, Trust, Accept, Restore) Teen Girls group.
Finally, she is the co-author of "Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for the Partners of Sex Addicts"