spacerFrequently Asked Questions:

What is Psycho Oncology?

Psycho-oncology, as a subspeciality of Clinical Psychology, includes the application of psychological principles and interventions to the treatment of Cancer-related distress. It addresses the two major psychological dimensions of cancer:
• The psychological responses of patients to cancer at all stages of the disease process and that of their families and caretakers;
• And the psychological, behavioral and social factors that may influence the disease process.
It is concerned with aspects of cancer that go beyond medical treatment and include lifestyle, psychological and social aspects of cancer.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and thought processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented strategies. CBT teaches a patient to be aware of how thoughts can influence emotional states and behaviors. Patients learn to be more scientific with their thinking by evaluating thinking styles and increasing more functional, present-focused and fact-based thinking, which in turn alleviates emotional distress.

CBT is very adaptable to assisting medical patients in coping with illness-related distress as it can contribute greatly to stress management and allows for increased awareness of challenging thought patterns that can interfere with adaptive coping. A CBT approach also may be used as a back-drop to understanding how past experiences influence current thinking and behavior.

Many CBT protocols for specific non-medical illness anxiety and mood disorders, such as Panic Disorder, OCD, PTSD and Depression, include exposure-based therapies that arm the patient with effective thinking and behavioral strategies, and then assist them in creating opportunities to confront stressful situations.

Does insurance cover Dr. Perez’s services?

Yes, in most cases. Dr. Perez is a participating provider for a variety of health insurance carriers. Office personnel will attain insurance authorization for you PRIOR to you coming in for services. You will be informed in advance of your copay (if any) and details regarding coverage. Usually the copay for psychological treatment is similar to the copay for your general medical doctor visits.

What can I expect from my initial consultation appointment?

The initial consultation is 60 to 75 minutes in length and is an opportunity for both you and Dr. Perez to gather information. Dr. Perez conducts a comprehensive interview and assessment of your well-being in order to understand your presenting issue and identify both strengths and challenges in your coping. This is carried out in a very comfortable, goal-oriented and team-like approach.

Dr. Perez will render an opinion on how he may be of assistance and present you with a preliminary individualized care plan with goals for you to consider. The consultation will also provide you with an opportunity to experience what it’s like to speak with Dr. Perez and ask questions so that you can make an informed decision regarding possible follow-up services.

Can Dr. Perez prescribe medication?

No, typically only Psychiatrists and other medical doctors can prescribe medications. Dr. Perez is licensed as a clinical psychologist. His specialization focuses on implementing non-medication interventions to treat psychological distress. However, Dr. Perez can make recommendations for you to consider medications if needed, and refer you to a Psychiatrist. If you are on medication for psychological symptoms Dr. Perez can coordinate care with your Psychiatrist and help monitor how you are responding to any medication intervention.

How long are patients usually in therapy?

In most cases Dr. Perez conducts brief psychotherapy protocols that are 4 to 6 months in duration and include weekly or bi-monthly sessions. The goal is for patients to assemble a psychological “tool kit” and become independent and confident in implementing coping strategies on their own. The frequency and length of time in therapy of course depends on many factors, and your psychological care plan will be individualized to meet your unique needs. In many instances Dr. Perez works with medical patients from initial diagnosis through completion of medical treatment and beyond. In other instances patients complete brief psychological treatment but continue open-ended maintenance sessions as needed throughout their illness continuum. Completion of psychological care and “next steps” are decided in a very collaborative manner between the patient and Dr. Perez.

Can Dr. Perez provide services to my loved ones as well?

Dr. Perez can provide care to patients and their loved ones. However, this is decided on a case-by-case basis. Often times dealing with a crisis or challenging situation affects the whole family and it is productive for the whole system to be supported by one psychologist. In other instances it is better if you work only individually with Dr. Perez. At the time of initial consultation, Dr. Perez can discuss the appropriateness of providing psychological care to your loved ones in addition to yourself.

In addition to cancer and medical-illness related distress, what other issues does Dr. Perez treat?

• Stress & Life Transitions
• Pain & Symptom Management
• Relationship Distress
• Anxiety, Panic, OCD, PTSD
• Depression
• Sexual Dysfunction