The Relationship Expert
Licensed Psychologist in Pismo Beach & Los Osos
I’ve never gone to counseling before. What can I expect?
Will counseling work for me?
If counseling works for me, how long will it take for me to see results?
How can I get the most out of counseling?
What if I want to come to couples counseling, but my partner isn’t ready?
Do you work with children?
What do I do to prepare for my first session?
Choosing a Therapist
Making an Appointment
I don’t like leaving voice mails. Dr. Lisa, if you’re not there, can I email or text?
Can you schedule me for a specific day and time slot this week?
How long are sessions?
What if I need to cancel an appointment?
Do I check in with a receptionist?
Do you give appointment reminders?
How do I get to your office?
Our first session together is called an intake assessment. That means I have a fairly structured series of questions I will ask you to make an assessment. In all of our sessions, we will work together as a team to get quick results. Whether you are struggling with your mood, thoughts, behavior, or in your relationships, my office is a safe haven. Here, you can discuss your biggest challenges without fear of judgment. I promise to meet you wherever you are at.
It is my hope that you will have the best therapy experience possible. I want our counseling sessions together to be a time when we can collaborate. While it’s true that I can provide an understanding of human behavior, you are the expert on you.
To illustrate how this collaboration works, imagine, for a moment, a ball of string. In fact, it isn’t just one string, but many strings that are wound up in a giant knot. As we work together, it takes time, especially in the beginning, to begin unraveling that ball of string. We may be working on one issue in your life, and then find that is connected to something else that has been giving you trouble. So we follow that thread. The strings may feel like separate issues, but you’d be surprised at the ways they connect.
It isn’t always an easy process. But I believe that most of my clients have experienced a greater understanding of themselves because of therapy. More than that, they felt empowered to make significant and positive changes in their life.
Every client situation is different. Many clients start seeing improvements within weeks. There are other problems that are more difficult and clients have been dealing with them for a lifetime. They have essentially been reinforcing certain neural pathways in their brain for so long, those pathways have become like neural superhighways. It may take more time and patience to build new habits and ways of thinking.
For best results, I recommend that clients meet with me on a weekly basis. This is especially helpful in the beginning until clients are able to gain “traction.” Clients who see changes the quickest are the ones who complete their homework and come back ready to talk about it. They tend to make the most progress because they are able to build on previous sessions.
You can make big steps to begin improving your relationship without your partner coming with you to counseling. It’s actually pretty common for one partner to come see me when their loved one isn’t ready for therapy. There’s still quite a lot we can do. For one thing, I can recommend books that you, as a couple, can read together. This can be very helpful to your relationship. Even if that isn’t possible, I can help you gain a new perspective on the struggles you are going through. As you gain new insights on how you are connected to your loved one, you’ll start seeing new choices available to you.
If your partner is hesitant, but open to talking over the phone, I am happy to chat with them. The call is free, and there’s no obligation.
I work with teens ages 15 and older. However, I do work with all ages in family therapy. For younger children needing individual counseling, I have names of some terrific counselors who specialize in working with children.
During our phone conversation, I will give you a user I.D. and password to your own secure online area. There, you can fill out personal information before our session. Filling out these forms online saves us from having to use our time together to complete them.
I recommend doing a little research. At the very least, before deciding on a counselor or psychologist, have a phone conversation with him or her. Get a feel for that person’s personality and whether they might be a good fit for you.
Trust your instincts. You want to listen to that feeling in the pit of your stomach. If it just doesn’t feel right after you hang up the phone or end the first session, it’s okay to move on. I want you to feel comfortable in the relationship. Otherwise, the therapy won’t work.
You want to be sure to work with someone who has experience helping people with the challenges you are facing. For instance, I work with clients age 15 and up. So if someone calls wanting individual counseling for their 8-year-old, I have names and contact information for some excellent therapists I can refer them to.
I have spent time getting to know many counselors in the San Luis Obispo area because I want to help people find the right fit. If your situation is unique, I can consult with some of my colleagues, and get back to you. The main thing is, don’t let the “what-ifs” keep you from getting the help you need. If you are hurting, and don’t know which way to turn, we’re here to help, and the call is free.
Sure. Email or text me. If I am with a client, I won’t be able to get back immediately, but I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as I get a break. No matter how you contact me, I will be the one getting it, and not a receptionist.
I will do my best to work with you to get you the time and location you prefer, whether that’s in Arroyo Grande or Los Osos. Sometimes, due to demand, your first choice time slot may be in use by another client. Many of my clients started with a time slot that was their second choice, and then moved into their first choice time slot when it became available.
Sessions are 45 minutes long.
Life happens. And so do unexpected events. When I schedule a time with clients, I ask that if they wish to cancel their appointment, they give me 24 hours notice. It is not uncommon for there to be a waiting list of clients who are asking for a time slot. A 24 hour notice allows those waiting clients the opportunity to arrange for an appointment in a timely manner.
To keep costs lower for clients, I don’t employ a receptionist.
If we are meeting in Los Osos, there is a waiting room. Please seat yourself. I’ll be out to greet you at our appointment time.
The location at Arroyo Grande has no waiting room. If the door is open, just knock on the door at the top of the hour of our appointment time. I’ll be there to welcome you. Clients who arrive early wait in their car until the appointment time. You may also sit in the waiting room of the dentist office upstairs if you would like.
Yes. You will be sent an electronic invitation with a time, office location, and instructions. You will also be reminded with an email before your visit.
Below is a map of both locations. In Arroyo Grande, my office is downstairs. If the door is open, simply knock at your appointment time. In Los Osos, my office is upstairs. Let yourself into the waiting room, and I’ll be out to meet you at our appointment time.
I work with many clients who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some have been able to overcome their life obstacles with therapy alone. Others work with a psychiatrist and determine that their road to recovery would be enhanced with medication. Research shows that medication and therapy can produce faster results than either one alone.
I don’t prescribe medication. However, I work with several clients who also work with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is a medical doctor (or M.D.) and does prescribe medication.
My last name, Neuenschwander, is pronounced “New-inch-wander.” But most clients call me Lisa or Dr. Lisa.
Feel free to give me a call, text, or email. There’s no obligation. I’m here to help.
“Dr. Lisa makes you feel calm, relaxed and comfortable in being able to open up about difficult issues…She taught us things about ourselves that we had not understood after 35 years of being together.” Read more…