Doctor Matthew May

Dr. Matthew May is Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Licensed by the California State Medical Board to practice Medicine and Psychiatry in the state of California.

Since 2006, Dr. May has served as an Adjunct Clinical Faculty Member at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, offering training and supervision to resident physicians as well as formal instruction within Stanford's Core Psychotherapy Sequence.  

He was the primary instructor for the Stanford-Pacific Graduate School of Psychology Consortium/Palo Alto University course: "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" as well as an instructor for the American Psychiatric Association, in uses of Medical Hypnosis.  
He offers advanced psychotherapy training to therapists, worldwide, through the Feeling Good Institute.


You can learn more about Dr. May by reading, online:

"Mind over Misery" Stanford Magazine Article on TEAM (advanced CBT) therapy
(stanfordmag.org/contents/mind-over-misery)

"Treatment of Postpartum Depression in Private Practice" (ch. 31 pgs. 287-306) How to Practice Evidence-Based Psychotherapy

"The Girl Who Hid Behind Her Hair" (Treatment of Social Phobia) presented at the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
(scv-camft.org/luncheon-reviews/4289820)


You can also listen to Dr. May in live demonstrations of psychotherapy in several podcasts:

Treating "Marilyn", a woman experiencing depression in the context of terminal cancer: (The Feeling Good Podcast, with Dr. David Burns, episodes 49, 59, 159)
(feelinggood.com/2017/08/07/049-live-session-marilyn-testing-empathy-part-1/)
(feelinggood.com/2017/10/26/059-live-session-marilyn-the-tune-up/)
(feelinggood.libsyn.com/159-live-therapy-with-marilyn-what-if-i-die-without-having-lived-a-meaningful-life)

Treating "Kristen" an artist who feels anxious about displaying her work publicly: (The Spark with Stephanie James) (Episode 29, with live work beginning at time: 23:49)
(podcasts.google.com)


Finally, you can hear Dr. May discuss the problem of Loneliness with an expert in the field of addiction:

"1000 Days Sober, The Truth about Alcohol" interview by Lee Davy
(www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bcm9f_SUEU)


(Dr. May received his medical training at the Stanford School of Medicine and completed specialty training in Psychiatry at Stanford's Department of Psychiatry.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Haverford College, with dual degrees in Chemistry (with honors) and Biology (with high honors).  He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  He has received several awards for research in chemistry and biochemistry.)

Specialty Areas

There are many sources of hope in this world and the path to freedom, self-respect, inspiration, joy and loving relationships is a little different for everyone.

What is right for one person may be totally different from what works for someone else.  For this reason, the therapy I offer is custom-tailored to fit the needs and goals of the individual.

Different schools of therapy have different methods and approaches.  During my training, for example, I studied Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Motivational Interviewing, Exposure and Response Prevention, Interpersonal Therapy, among other tested and professionally approved techniques of psychotherapy.  I also learned how to use psychiatric medications safely and prescribe medications when this is appropriate.

I have tremendous respect for each of these approaches, but I prefer not to practice solely within any one school of therapy because this would only limit the number of methods I have available for helping a person recover.  Whenever possible, I prefer to draw upon techniques that have been scientifically studied and proven effective.

The general framework I use during therapy is called "TEAM" and was developed by Dr. David Burns.  A brief description follows and you can read more about the specific methods, models and techniques used in TEAM therapy here.

T = Testing
E = Empathy
A = Agenda Setting
M = Methods

Testing.  Sometimes people know that they don't feel quite right, but they can't quite put their finger on what is bothering them.  Testing can help clarify what the problem is.  It may involve surveys that you can complete on your own in addition to questions that we can discuss together.  This is especially important during our early sessions, when I am first getting to know you.

I offer this service in order to help improve a person's chances of having a successful therapy.  It is much easier to overcome a problem when we have a very clear understanding of what that problem is and what causes it.

Empathy.  Most people benefit from having a place to talk freely and openly, knowing that they can just be themselves and that they will be accepted, valued, understood and respected.  I believe that the empathic connection is a vital ingredient for successful therapy.  Sometimes this is the only thing a person needs to recover completely!

Many times, however, more advanced techniques are required.  If you decide that you would like to use these more advanced techniques, empathy continues to be just as important, if not more important, than before.

Agenda Setting.  If you think that you want more than empathic listening or if the goals you want to achieve in therapy require more advanced techniques, we will talk about the pros and cons of change and what is likely to be required from you in order to meet your goals.

Sometimes people realize that the problem they had also had a lot of benefits for them!  Maybe anxiety is helping you avoid real danger.  Maybe guilt is a reflection of a good value system.  Maybe hopelessness is saving you a lot of disappointment and bother.

Regardless of the type of problem you have, it is likely that you will have at least some mixed feelings about the process of recovery.  Agenda setting helps us determine what degree or extent of change would be most beneficial for you, whether the rewards are worth the cost.

Methods.  The good news is that there are many extremely powerful mental exercises and therapy techniques that can help you with a variety of problems, including unwanted behaviors, negative mood states and relationship difficulties.  The bad news is that predicting exactly which one will benefit any given person still involves a bit of trial and error.

Imagine that a person with depression is like a wealthy man who has accidentally locked all of his gold inside a solid locked chest.  Each of the Methods, then, is like a single key on a large key-ring.  We may try several 'keys', explore several types of therapy, before we discover the one that produces results for you!

Services Provided

Services for Patients:

  1. Consultations

    While under the care of another provider or therapist, consultations are a way to obtain a second medical opinion in order to clarify your diagnosis or discuss your treatment options.  A written request for consultation from your current psychiatric provider, including a description of the purpose for the consultation, is usually required.  If you are seeking psychiatric care for the first time and are unsure about your diagnosis and the treatment options that are available to you, a consultation visit may help you decide what option is best for you.

  2. Individual Psychotherapy:

    Regular private appointments designed to facilitate and sustain recovery.  Typical goals for individual therapy include improved mood, better functioning and more satisfying relationships.  Click [here] to learn more about the problems I treat.  Individual psychotherapy is for people who are not taking medication or whose medication is being prescribed by another physician.  Appointments are usually one or two hours in duration and at a frequency of about once per week, though this can be adjusted according to your needs.  For example, more frequent meetings earlier in the treatment may help you recover faster (see also Brief Intensive Psychotherapy below).

  3. Couple's Therapy:

    If you would like help resolving conflicts, improving the quality of your relationship, or want to work on a problem that you are facing together as a couple, this might be right for you.  I recommend individual meetings prior to starting couple's therapy to make sure that couple's therapy is the best option for you both.

  4. Brief Intensive Psychotherapy:

    Want fast results?  Willing to put in the effort required to get well quickly?  Brief Intensive Psychotherapy may be what you're looking for.  An ideal schedule would be 7 - 14 days of daily sessions, 2-3 hours in length, one or two sessions per day, with psychotherapy homework between sessions and each evening.  This is similar to a foreign language immersion course.  Many people recover prior to the end of this sequence.  If you are coming from out-of-state for these appointments, you will need a consultation request from your current therapist and at least one follow-up visit with them after you return.


Services for Therapists:

  1. Case Consultations:

    We all get stuck, from time-to-time.  If you have a specific question about the treatment of a single patient, this option may be right for you.  When in doubt, it's a good idea to talk with at least one other colleague about the case and document these discussions in your notes.

  2. Individual Supervision:

    You can rapidly improve your skills as a psychotherapist by receiving ongoing supervision and training.  There is always room for improvement.  Individual supervision provides you with the training and support you need to function at your best.  Thankfully, the cost is a tax-deductible business expense for therapists.

  3. Small Group Supervision:

    If you want to split the cost of supervision with a colleague, you can join a small supervision group.  Groups are limited in size, so there may be a waiting list.  Instruction is in the use of the TEAM model of psychotherapy.


Other Services:

Coaching

Want help making your dreams come true?  Coaching may be right for you.  Unlike psychotherapy, coaching is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental illness. Instead, the focus is on helping you identify and achieve your goals so that you can live life to the fullest.  Coaching helps you develop attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles that maximize your potential, productivity and pleasure.

Here are some common coaching goals:

  1. Maximize your satisfaction, enjoyment and pleasure in life.
  2. Improve your time-management skills, efficiency and productivity.
  3. Master the art of negotiation in the business world.
  4. Increase your creativity and expand your awareness.
  5. Gain motivation and skills for healthier living.
  6. Achieve more in school or athletics.
  7. Improve the quality of your relationships.
  8. Have more success in romance and dating.

Policies




Privacy

My goal is to provide you with the highest degree of confidentiality possible.  I want you to know that it is safe to talk about what is most important to you because I believe this is necessary for growth and recovery.  Just talking about something that has caused shame or embarrassment may bring about substantial relief.  By protecting your confidentiality, I can make this healing process a little easier.

Another reason to cherish your confidentiality is that having a public record of treatment for a mental illness (with your insurance provider or with a pharmacy) may create problems in the future with obtaining life insurance, disability insurance or even medical insurance.  This is why many individuals who have insurance coverage still prefer to go outside of their insurance to receive mental health care.

For these reasons, I will not provide information about your treatment to others without your permission.  Even if a family member calls to inquire about you, I will not reveal that you are my patient, unless you give me permission to speak with them. Even then, my discussions with any third party would be limited to the specific topics you have given me permission to discuss.  For this reason, if you would like me to speak with a relative, it is often preferable that we meet, the three of us, during a regular appointment or a portion of an appointment.  Also, if anyone provides me with information about you, I will share that information with you.  In other words, I will not keep any secrets from you or withhold any information from you.

You should also be aware of my limitations in protecting your confidentiality:

  1. If you seek reimbursement through your insurance company, they will require (at minimum) a diagnosis of the condition for which you are being treated.  In many cases they will require additional information.
  2. Many individuals with depression experience urges to harm themselves.  If I believe you are a danger to yourself, I will act in a way to protect you.  This may involve talking to family members, law enforcement and other mental health professionals without your permission.
  3. I am legally obligated to report the abuse of children and the elderly.
  4. If you discuss plans to harm another person, I have a duty to protect that person, even at the expense of your confidentiality.
  5. There are a few rare circumstances in which I cannot protect your confidentiality.  For example, if a Judge demands your medical records as part of a subpoena, then I must obey this order.

For more details about confidentiality, please review the most recently updated version of my document, "Request for Confidential Communication" (provided upon request).


Fees and Payment

My hourly rate has increased. Please see my scheduling calendar for current pricing information.

Payment Options:  I do not accept cash or credit card payments in my office. If you prefer to pay with a credit card, please use my online scheduler.

Discounts:  If you manage your own scheduling and payments, online, and schedule during my normal business hours, you can save as much as $100/hour off of my usual and customary rate, which is reflected in the price you see, online.

For additional information about my billing policies, fees and discounts you may be eligible for, please request a copy of my most recently updated "Administrative Information" document.

My current hourly rate may be found by visiting my booking calendar.

I do not contract with any insurance companies.  If you have an insurance carrier, you may still be able to obtain reimbursement for part of the per-session fee.  To find out how much of the fee would be covered, I recommend calling your insurance company in advance.  See this section for more information about the best way to do this.  I also recommend that you have your visits "pre-authorized" by your insurance provider before scheduling appointments with me in order to minimize any confusion about what will be covered.

Other fee-related issues to consider:

  • Ideally, paying for therapy will motivate both you and your therapist to work hard so you can accomplish your goals in a timely fashion.  Payment helps to create a sense of equality, partnership and reciprocity between you and your therapist. Furthermore, payment for services helps to distinguish between therapy and a casual conversation.  You might not want or expect drastic life changes to occur after a casual conversation with someone you've just met.  However, if you're paying for that conversation, you are more likely to consider some of the important questions in therapy:  What do I want from this?  What is this worth to me?  Am I getting what I paid for?  Your answers to these questions are the "fuel" that drives recovery!
  • Specialized payment structures can also help with motivation.  You may find it beneficial, for example, to pay ahead of time for my services or even to pay an additional amount, for future sessions, with the understanding that you will be reimbursed that extra amount, if you achieve your goals.  It's easy to get tempted to "cheat", even on your own therapy, and having that little reward in mind can help keep your eye on the prize when the going gets tough.  This is called a "token economy" and has proven to be extremely effective in helping people change certain types of behaviors.
  • Remember that you may be eligible for a tax deduction if you work in the field of mental health!
  • Cancelations: If you cancel your appointment 48 hours or more before the time of your appointment, you will be refunded in full.  However, cancellations within 48 hours will not be subject to reimbursement unless another patient fills that time, in which case you will receive a full refund. You can find instructions about booking, changing, or canceling an appointment here.

Although therapy is one of the wisest investments a person can make, I do not wish to add additional stress or financial burden to anyone.  If you cannot afford my fee, I would recommend considering some more affordable options:

  1. If you are not insured, there are many free or low-cost clinics available:
    Gronowski Center and Hope Counseling Center.  There are even a few free clinics such as the Berkeley Free Clinic.
  2. If you have insurance, keep in mind that some providers will accept your insurance while others will not.  It is likely that you will save a lot of money by seeing a provider who takes your insurance.  However, providers who take insurance are often booked solid or have a long waiting list.  To maximize your chances of getting an appointment sooner rather than later, you can start by asking for a list of local providers by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or visiting their website.  Next, call every name on that list (I recommend calling at least 20) and leave your name, phone number and a request to be seen as a new patient.  Another approach is to call local hospitals, like Stanford, who accept most forms of insurance and sometimes have lower-cost clinics.  Stanford's Intake phone number is: (650)498-9111.  You can also visit their website.  For more information about questions to ask your insurance company, see my FAQ
  3. If you are a Veteran, you may be eligible for special benefits because of the service you have provided for your country.  For more information, you can visit the Veteran's Affairs Website or call their local number:  (650)493-5000.
  4. If you are specifically interested in receiving training or therapy in the TEAM model of psychotherapy, developed by Dr. David Burns, and cannot afford my rate, you may find a better rate among the highly qualified practitioners of this model by visiting: www.feelinggoodinstitute.com

Medicare Patients

I am not excluded from Medicare; however I have opted out, under Section 1802 of the Social Security Act as Amended by #4507 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. If you are eligible for Medicare but would still like to receive my services, then you (or your legal representative or guardian), will need to complete this Patient's Private Contract for Care form indicating your full understanding of this agreement, including becoming fully responsible for payment of all services personally rather than through your Medicare coverage. You have a right to receive services from a provider who has not opted out of Medicare and are not compelled to enter into a contract with me. For the most up-to-date information on my Medicare status, visit Palmetto GBA.


Cancellations

I require a 48-hour notification to cancel a session for any reason.  If you provide this advance notification, I will not charge you for the session.  If you do not provide me with a 48-hour notification, you will be charged for the missed session.  If I can fill your slot at the last minute, I will not charge you for the canceled session, even if you give me less than 48 hours notice.  If I miss or have to cancel an appointment, you will not be charged.


Phone Calls

In certain cases, you may need to call me if a problem develops between sessions.  For example, if you're experiencing a medication reaction or suddenly feel suicidal, I want you to call me right away.  If a phone consultation is needed, I will charge for the time we spend together at my usual rate, based on the length of the call.  Often, I can schedule additional sessions with you at the office within a day or two of your call if you need extra help.  Sometimes, hospitalization may be helpful.

I hope you will keep phone calls between sessions to a minimum, because, as you can imagine, I also need time to unwind.  This allows me to be at my very best when I see you.  If you think you will need to call me frequently between sessions, we should discuss this at the initial evaluation.  If you believe you are having a life-threatening emergency and are unable to contact me or the psychiatrist covering for me for any reason, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.


Disability and Legal Issues

I do not provide disability evaluations or sign disability claims, since this represents a conflict of interest.  If you wish to be evaluated for disability, I can suggest the names of forensic experts who can provide that service for you.  I will not provide copies of my evaluation, or reports of our work together, to anyone involved in a disability claim.

Similarly, if you are involved in any legal action, such as a divorce proceeding or a lawsuit, I will not testify in your behalf or provide copies of my records or reports of our work together unless I am legally forced to do so by a judge.  Here's the rationale for this policy.  If you recover and I have to report that to someone who is providing disability payments, then you could lose that income.  This conflict of interest could prevent us from working together effectively. But if I don't have any involvement in any forensic issues, we can work together toward your recovery without any competing concerns about financial gains or losses.


Miscellaneous

I do not meet with patients, friends or family members of patients outside of sessions for any reason.  I do not accept gifts from patients or family members of patients.  I do not get involved in any business dealings with patients.  Our work together will focus on the problems and symptoms you need help with.

Sometimes, patients give me copies of books or other materials they've written and ask me to read them between sessions.  I do not read these kinds of materials between therapy sessions.  However, if they seem relevant to my understanding of your problems or our work together, I'd be happy to review them with you during one of our sessions.  In many cases, your verbal summary of anything you've written will be sufficient.

Additional information about my practices and polices will be provided upon request and to all new patients as part of the "Administrative Information" memo.



The information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.
Visiting this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship.  Information found on the internet cannot substitute for individualized evaluation and treatment by medical or mental health professionals.  All written materials are the exclusive copyright of Dr. Matthew May, ©2024.