General FAQ

Get the answers you need with our comprehensive FAQ page. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions to provide you with quick and convenient information, ensuring you have all the details to make informed decisions about our services.
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What does a therapy session look like?

Therapy sessions are 50 minutes long for individual, couples, and family counseling. Longer sessions are available, but pricing and availability are personalized to each therapist. After you have booked your first appointment, you will be sent paperwork through your portal to complete before your first session. This way you can complete the paperwork and not eat away at your session time. Every person will receive an intake questionnaire to fill out via your portal. For couples or marriage therapy, there will be a Couples Questionnaire for you both to fill out separately via your portal. Your first session will look a little different than the rest. During your first session, your therapist will get you acclimated to therapy – going over confidentiality, limitations, and what a typical session with them looks like. This is a great time to ask any questions you have. You will have time to discuss the frequency of your therapy sessions – once a week is standard. You can watch this video with AMFT Sarah O’Leary for a quick run-down on what your first few sessions will look like:

Estes Therapy has multiple therapists available to best meet your needs – including your financial ability. However, the cost of therapy goes beyond the amount of money you are spending. With therapy, you are getting the tools and learning the skills you need to feel successful in yourself and your relationships. You are investing in yourself and your relationship; this will end up saving you money and heartache down the road. Each therapist has a fee on their information page (Meet the Team here). There are a limited number of sliding scale and low fee slots. These are offered with associate marriage and family therapists and associate professional clinical counselors only, not licensed therapists. You can call to ask about these.

You can find more about what being an Associate MFT means here.

What about insurance?
We provide a superbill to any client, couple or individual, who requests it. You can submit this superbill to your insurance for reimbursement. The reimbursement does not always cover the full cost of the session. Your insurance will let you know how much will be covered. We understand that finances are a big factor in deciding to start therapy. With that in mind, we have created a more in-depth description of superbills that you can read here. Additionally there are some benefits to cash-pay. With insurance, your company determines how many sessions will be covered based on your diagnosis. Not only do you not need to have a mental health diagnosis for therapy when you do cash pay, you also have more autonomy over your therapy and confidentiality. You get to chose how many sessions you have, and the frequency of those sessions. Furthermore, insurance companies can look over your records and therapy notes.

Act of Good Faith – total therapy estimate:
You have the right to receive a “Good Faith Estimate” explaining how much your medical and mental health care will cost. Under the law, health care providers, including mental health, need to give patients who are not using insurance an estimate of the expected charges for health services. You have the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for the total expected cost of any non-emergency healthcare services, including psychotherapy services. You can ask your health care provider, and any other provider you choose, for a Good Faith Estimate before you schedule a service. Don’t worry, we also go over all this in your first session!

If you receive a bill that is at least $400 more than your Good Faith Estimate, you can dispute the bill. Make sure to save a copy or picture of your Good Faith Estimate.

For questions or more information about your right to a Good Faith Estimate, visit

With a team of therapists working for Estes Therapy, there is no doubt you’ll be able to find a therapist who meets your needs. You can learn more about each therapist on their information page here. We have therapists who work with children, adolescents, and adults of all ages. Our therapists provide individual therapy, couples and marriage therapy (including premarital counseling), and family therapy.

We also offer therapy sessions in Spanish with Rina (for children, individuals, and couples). We encourage you to explore each therapist’s page to get an idea of their topics of focus. The experienced and compassionate therapists at Estes Therapy work with all kinds of issues – whether you are looking for guidance, working through trauma, working on repairing a relationship, or seeking help with self-exploration.

Here are just some of what we work with:

  • Addiction
  • Affairs
  • Anxiety
  • Break-ups
  • Body Issues Bullying
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Connection
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Fighting Grief & Loss
  • Health & Illness
  • Men’s Issues Personal Growth
  • Premarital Counseling
  • Substance Use & Abuse
  • Self-Compassion & Self-Love
  • Sex & Intimacy
  • Trauma
  • Understanding Yourself

Therapy, whether you are looking for an individual therapist or couples counseling, is not one size fits all. Just because a therapist isn’t the right fit does not mean therapy is not a good fit. We know it can be discouraging if you don’t feel like your therapist is a good fit, so we strongly encourage you to do some research beforehand. Think about what you are looking for – what are your therapy goals? Personal growth? Facing anxiety? Recovery from an eating disorder or improved body image? Grief counseling? Premarital counseling? Co-parenting? Improved communication? Familiarize yourself with some theoretical orientations to get an idea of what would work for you. For example, if you are seeking therapy to work through trauma, an EMDR therapist might be right for you.

We are so lucky to have so much information at our fingertips thanks to the internet. Check out the websites of potential therapists and anywhere else they might appear (Instagram, newspapers, magazines, news segments, podcasts). It is important to remember therapy brings up emotions and can be uncomfortable. Look past your own anxiety and be open-minded to what the therapist has to offer. Sometimes going into counseling requires you to do some soul searching and take responsibility for your actions. We recommend giving it 5 sessions to see if your therapist is a good fit – at the minimum 3 sessions! This gives you time to get comfortable, get into the issues you want to address, and differentiate between feelings towards the topics and therapy from your feelings towards your therapist.

Still, have questions? Check out this article for more information on if your therapist is a good fit. 

We currently have two offices, one in Mission Valley and one in Oceanside. We also offer online therapy sessions through COVID and beyond.

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We never ask our clients for testimonials. However, sometimes clients will post on LinkedIn, Yelp, or Facebook about their experience with us. We also love getting thank you notes! But those we don’t share. In an effort to help you find the best fit for your therapy needs, we wanted to provide you a place to read real reviews from real people. You can read some of the testimonials we’ve received here: Estes Team Testimonials.

Sometimes you aren’t ready to pull the trigger on starting therapy. We encourage you to have faith in yourself, put the effort in, and to take that jump. However, we also understand some people want additional guidance or self-help books and workbooks before getting started. We also encourage you to speak with your therapist to see what additional reading or activities will help you to get the most out of your time between sessions.

You can find some of our additional resources here, and be sure to check out our blog here.

Whichever initialism you chose, the therapists here at Estes Therapy are trained in, and can work with, many different populations and diagnoses. They can work with individuals, couples, families, groups, children, and teens! Our therapists view problems within the context of systems and relationships, and the greater context that individuals exist within. They also can work with a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, addiction, mood disorders, and so much more. All of our therapists have graduated from a Master’s program. Some even have their Doctoral degree! 

Here’s the short version of the differences.

LMFT stands for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. These titles indicate that a therapist is fully licensed, no longer in school, and no longer being overseen in their work. These therapists have their master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or Social Work and have experienced literally thousands of required hours of training and clients to meet the State of California requirements to be licensed. They have also passed the final board exam in the state of California required to achieve licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Clinical Social Worker.

AMFT stands for Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. This title, previously called “intern,” signifies that your therapist is not yet licensed. An AMFT therapist still has hundreds to thousands of hours under their belt – you need at least 300-500 hours just to get your Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s degree. They receive weekly individual and group supervision. Basically, you get the minds of two therapists at the cost of one therapist! Not only do Associates have weekly supervision meetings, but they also attend trainings and learn while they work.

APCC stands for Associate Professional Clinical Counselors. Similar to AMFTs, they have a Master’s degree (but in Clinical Mental Health Counseling), and are en route to becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). They are required to spend 2-3 years in graduate school, where they accrue therapy experience. They also receive weekly supervision and attend trainings. 

Still have questions? Check out our blog post, Different Types of Therapists – Which one is right for me?

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Seeking a therapist can be the best thing you do not just for your relationship, but for yourself. If you are seeking compassionate, knowledgeable, and understanding professional help, we invite you to explore our services. We are here to help you make the most of your life.