Gail Gabriel, MFT
  Marriage and Family Therapist  

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you shop for a therapist?

To get the most out of a therapeutic journey, you must find a therapist who is a good match for you. This means that you look for a therapist:

  • Who provides you safety, respect and understanding
  • Who you believe can appreciate your circumstances and relate to your struggle
  • Who can offer you useful questions of discovery and exploration
  • Who is licensed in the state where you live
  • Who subscribes to the ethical standards of a professional association, such as AAMFT or CAMFT 

The best way is to get a recommendation from someone you trust or from a therapist that you know socially. Often, in the first telephone conversation, you are able to assess this fit when you make a personal connection and feel heard, accepted and understood.

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What happens in your first session?

Most people come to a first therapy session anxious because self-disclosure with a new person feels awkward. It is much more comfortable to use your first session to interview your prospective therapist. How you feel in that first session is an important cue to whether or not you have found the best match. The best results accrue from an open and honest exchange of information from the very beginning. The relationship you establish with your therapist is more important than any theoretical preference so trust your innate common sense. Gail will welcome any questions or concerns you may have. Each session lasts 45 to 50 minutes and is typically scheduled at the same time each week unless other arrangements are made in advance.

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How do you get the most out of therapy?

A sense of curiosity as well as a sense of what you want to accomplish or understand in therapy is an important beginning. Are you struggling with a decision? A loss? A change? Ambivalence? Coming to therapy willing to learn more about yourself and how you might change how you think about, feel about, or respond to circumstances in your life is the most fruitful approach. Coming to therapy to change someone else is usually, if not always, futile. As we change and grow ourselves, we are more effective influencing others and more effective achieving our goals. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world," because you are and can be the active agent in the change you want to make in your world.

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When is it important to seek therapeutic assistance?

When chaos reigns, repetitive patterns and troubled relationships plague you, it is wise to seek therapy. People often seek therapy in order to safely explore the symptoms of discontent that accompany miserable moments. They may include:

  • Relationship disturbances
  • Persistent feelings of anger, frustration, agitation or fear
  • Behavior that is impulsive, out of control, embarrassing
  • Feelings of tension, panic, confusion, or worry
  • Depression, hopelessness, isolation, despair or sadness
  • Grief, loss or emotional trauma
  • Disturbances of appetite, sleep, sex, pleasure or usual activity
  • Substance abuse, dependency, or challenged recovery
  • Mood swings, loss of energy or motivation, frantic overwork

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How do I pay for psychotherapy services?

Please contact the office for information about the current fees for services. Gail does not participate in most HMO insurance panels. If you have out of network benefits, with a PPO plan or point of service plan, she will provide you with the required health claim insurance form to seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier. The amount is stipulated in your contract for health coverage under outpatient psychotherapy. If she is unable to accommodate your financial situation, she will assist you in finding appropriate referrals.

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How do I get more information or make an appointment?

Office hours in her downtown Pleasanton, California office are Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM and appointments are scheduled during those times. Appointments with Gail for professional therapy services are made in advance and typically run 45 to 50 minutes unless other arrangements have been made. For further information or to make an appointment, please contact the office by phone at 925-997-1799.

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How does therapy work?

Therapy is a collaborative and personal conversation with your therapist conducted in a safe and confidential setting that is focused only on you and your circumstances. Listening very carefully and from a different perspective, Gail will gently explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to help you:

  • Process and prioritize the flow of incoming information
  • Identify, process and utilize the richness of your emotions
  • Increase your creativity and response flexibility
  • Offer questions to illuminate the landscape of your circumstances
  • Call attention to your signature strengths and courage
  • Suggest opportunities that alter the dance in your relationship dynamics
  • Tickle your curiosity about overlooked thinking patterns and conclusions
  • Increase your effectiveness and influence in parenting
  • Cope with grief, loss, divorce, and life transitions
  • Communicate effectively with others

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What therapy models do you utilize?

In uniquely tailoring the therapeutic process to your circumstances and individual needs, Gail may utilize strategies from several therapeutic theories.  While all of the models promote personal growth through the integration of thoughts, feelings, experiences, action and understanding, different theoretical models spotlight different aspects of opportunity and action.  

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) are effective in examining how you think about your world. These strategies help identify thinking errors by examining them in the light of reason and experimentation.
  • Emotionally focused therapies (EFT) are effective in learning to process the rich and complex world of feeling experiences.
  • Existential therapy is effective in illuminating how you create meaning and attribute importance to various aspects of your life.
  • Experiential therapy is effective in expanding awareness through processing sensations, emotions, and experiences in the moment.
  • Family of origin therapy is effective in appreciating your developmental history and its impact on the dynamics of current relationships.
  • Family systems therapies are effective in understanding and changing interactions within the many combinations of relationships as they mutually influence one another in the larger system or organization.

Other avenues of exploration may include recommendations or referrals to medical doctors, psychiatrists, books, movies, classes, group therapy, twelve step programs, educational programs or other community resources as they apply to your needs.

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What is couples therapy and who goes to the sessions?

Since the focus of couples therapy is your primary relationship, it is most beneficial when both participate in therapy. The goal of couples therapy is to improve the interpersonal interactions between two individuals in the service of each partner and the whole. It is not about imposing some external standard or choosing sides as a referee. Couples therapy is about learning how to listen carefully to both partners, uncovering the values beneath the problems, and unleashing mutual creative energy to resolve current dilemmas. Sometimes only one member of the partnership chooses to participate in therapy. This is also a viable way to work through difficulties in your primary relationship because the focus remains the interactions between the partners. However, it is more effective when both parties participate, even if one partner does not want to change. Much still can be understood and learned about the other. Either partner can learn the skills to promote a relationship that flourishes and endures throughout the life span.

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Gail Gabriel, MFT
Gail Gabriel, MFT
555 Peters Avenue
Suite 230
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Tel: (925) 997-1799
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Pleasanton Family Therapist
Pleasanton Family Therapist