Do you have a question? Check out this section for the most commonly asked questions.
Do you only work with transgender folks or with clients who are questioning their gender identity?
No. I have extensive training and passion for working with all people, regardless of backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, etc. I see myself as a generalist but with a specific niche and highly specialized training in gender identity. I identify as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
My clients are verbal children (ages ten and above), teens, young adults, and adults who are motivated and ready to examine their thoughts and make lasting behavioral changes. I see individuals, couples, and families.
What does it mean to be board certified?
Board certification is not a requirement for licensed psychologists. Instead, it is a voluntary process by which a reviewing board establishes the provider’s competency and certifies they have achieved exceptional standards for their field and specialty. I am board certified in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, which means that I passed additional written and oral exams to demonstrate my competency and proficiency in utilizing evidence-based practices and interventions in my work with children and adolescents. It is an honor to be recognized as only 4% of psychologists in the U.S. are board-certified.
Do you work with adults given that you are board certified in children and adolescents?
I chose to obtain board certification in children and adolescents instead of other specialties such as Clinical Psychology or Consulting Psychology, given my extensive training in childhood attachment, adolescent brain development, and family dynamics. I believe that a strong understanding of an individual’s upbringing, potential Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and pivotal early experiences is a crucial lens to view clients — whether they are 10 years old or 40 years old. We were all an innocent child and a confused teenager at one point in our lives!
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 disbelief and horror.
Here’s the breakdown:
Undergraduate Studies at UCLA- 5 years (one year study abroad in Sevilla, Spain)
Graduate Studies at the University of Denver- 4 years
APA Approved Internship (a clinical doctoral student must complete a 2000 hour internship to officially graduate)- 1 year
APA Approved Fellowship (this was not required, but the best way to achieve the minimum 3000 hours for licensure and gain additional specialized training/expertise)- 2 years
So a total of 12 years post-high school to obtain the Psy.D. degree.
However, 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 entirely stops, and every two years, I am required by the Board of Psychology in CA to take 36 hours of Continuing Education Credits.
Some psychologists graduate with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. who do not complete the rigorous licensure requirements to become licensed as a psychologist. Instead, they may choose to use their previous licensure or obtain licensure as an LMFT or LCSW (see below for steps to becoming an LMFT/LCSW).
What is a Psychologist? What is the difference between a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, and Marriage/Family Therapist?
- Psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D) have a doctorate and have received extensive education and training (4-6 years). We trained to work as clinicians with clients, conduct psychological assessments and testing, conduct research, and/or teach doctoral-level courses.
- Psychiatrists (M.D. or D.O) are individuals who have attended medical school (approximately four years). They completed an internship/residency in psychiatry (four years for adult psychiatry and five years for child/adolescent psychiatry) and can prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists conduct psychotherapy (talk therapy) as well.
- LCSW vs. LPCC vs. LMFT complete two years of training and complete a certain number of hours to gain licensure.
How do I pick the right therapist for me?
Finding a therapist can be daunting and overwhelming, with the fear of making the “wrong” choice. I would encourage you to look at a therapist’s Psychology Today profile or website and read about their training and treatment approach. The next step would be to call or email them to schedule a phone consultation (most offer a complimentary ten or fifteen-minute phone consult) to see if it would be a good fit. Some of the simple questions you can ask yourself are, “Can I trust this person?” and “Do I believe this person can help me?”
As you can see from the answers above, mental health providers have various levels of training and offer different types of interventions and styles. However, research shows that the most significant factor in the process of change in therapy is the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client.
Is everything I talk about really confidential?
A patient of mine once 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
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 agreement so the child/adolescent knows they can disclose certain private things, and I will not share with their parents. This agreement 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 become involved as needed.
Most parents I work with understand this agreement and are just relieved that their child/teen wants to talk to someone!