Frequently Asked Questions

Do you accept insurance?

You are welcome to use out-of-network (OON) benefits if that is a benefit to your insurance plan. To use this, the electronic health record will automatically generate a superbill for you monthly. You will submit the superbill to your insurance and seek reimbursement. Usually, they reimburse everything minus your co-pay and/or deductible, although reimbursement is not guaranteed. Insurance does sometimes seek to audit your chart when using OON, so please be aware of this.

Why are you not contracted with insurances?

Insurance is a benefit that all patients deserve. Insurance companies sometimes control the number of sessions patients can receive, request to see confidential records, do not pay or request claw-backs (i.e., request therapists to give money back to the insurance company) requiring therapists to request payment directly from patients months after services have been rendered, and they require patients receive a diagnosis. While many patients have an applicable mental illness, therapy can benefit those who do not meet the medical model needs of a diagnosis (e.g., reconciling faith and sexuality, experiencing divorce, and life transitions). Additionally, some fields and professions, like the military,  review mental health records. Receiving an unwarranted mental health diagnosis may cause concerns for employment that Dr. Malak finds to be stigmatizing and unnecessary. Insurance companies also pay therapists much less than market value requiring therapists to see more patients in less time, which oftentimes leads to therapist burnout. As Dr. Malak aims to support her patients with evidenced-based care that includes reviewing peer-reviewed research, coordinating care with other providers and stakeholders, reading relevant books, and more, she aims to do this outside of the insurance model to be able to maintain a manageable caseload. Patients can reach her easily and be cared for knowing she allots extra time outside of session to devote to each of her patients.

Where are you located?

Malak Psychology is located on occupied land, which rightfully belongs to the Akimel O’Odham (Pima/”River People”) and Xalychidom Piipash (Maricopa/”People who live toward the water”) tribes. This land is now known as Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Dr. Malak may legally see you from other parts of the country (e.g., it is legal for her to see patients from anywhere in Arizona and she aims to get licensed in other states where it would be legally for her to continue seeing patients).

What should I expect in therapy?
Therapy is “traditionally” a space where one individual speaks with a mental health clinician who has been trained to treat mental illness. There are many different therapeutic orientations where the session times, models, and outlook can be slightly different. It can sometimes feel intrusive as it is a one-sided relationship for the most part. In other words, Dr. Malak will ask you a lot about you and will not share much about herself unless you ask or it is relevant to your care. Her style is multimodal integrating cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, internal family systems, and multicultural/feminist theories. She encourages patients to bring their unconscious processes into consciousness. This can be done through challenges like expanding your interpretations of your thoughts about yourself, others, and the world; role playing asking for a raise, addressing family conflict, or saying goodbye to a loved one who has transitioned/died; and letter writing, drawing, dancing, and other mindfulness tools. The goal is to move stressors through your mind, body, and spirit so you can live the life you want to live without being weighed down by your shadow. Especially when addressing trauma, symptoms can increase before they get better as avoidance is a common symptom, and therapy is a space where avoidance is discouraged. You get to go at your own pace and are encouraged to ask for breaks when feeling significant distress. Group, couples, and family therapy have some similarities but there is a lot more energy that goes into the process between participants, the roles each member has naturally and/or through the unconscious process of the group, and navigating challenges when systems are out of homeostasis (i.e., imbalanced). These modalities tend to be more impactful than individual therapy in different ways as what is learned in groups can be transferred to other group spaces like families, work, friends, teams, and more. The same is true in individual therapy, but it easier to hide your ego in individual as opposed to group therapy. As humans are social creatures who rely on one another for things like comfort, energy, food, housing, etc., these larger system therapeutic modalities are more complex than individual, and they mirror life more honestly than individual therapy. Both have their pros and cons, and Dr. Malak can help you decide which would suit your needs the most.

Your first session is generally a clinicial interview where Dr. Malak asks about broad parts of your life and about your goals for treatment. Dr. Malak does not normally write notes during sessions, but she does during the interview. She tends to make something called a genogram, which is a family tree with information relating to generational migration patterns, language, and interpersonal relationship patterns. The first and/or second session entails creating a treatment plan that is updated at least every 6 months. Afterwards, sessions ensue as needed with regular or intermittent scheduling depending on needs. Please be in a private space or with people you do not mind hearing about your mental health journey. Babies and children are welcome in sessions, especially for postpartum patients, although there are benefits to having an hour to yourself as well.  

What if I don't feel like therapy is helping?

Dr. Malak will gladly support you in finding a clinician that suits your needs better. She will attempt to get you aligned with her or another therapist in the first couple sessions, although you may feel this way later on in treatment. You are welcome to find another therapist on your own, as well, and there is benefit to addressing this with her or with whichever therapist you are seeing now. Therapy is for you and not for your therapist, and noting your concerns with a therapist can be incredibly supportive in addressing conflict in other areas of life. Sharing such feelings is highly encouraged!

Individual therapy tends to take 15-20 sessions to notice improve, although this varies greatly depending on your needs and symptom severity. Couples tends to take about 20-30 sessions for noticeable changes, although this also varies. Please give group therapy at least 3-4 sessions before deciding to terminate as many people are uncomfortable in the first few sessions, especially for those with social anxiety. If you still feel like it is not helping, please communicate this so your treatment plan can be adjusted. 

How do I get a hold of Dr. Malak?

Emailing her at [email protected] is the easiest way to communicate with her given she is oftentimes with patients during her open hours. You can also text or call her at 480-331-1322. She will attempt to respond as soon as possible. She adamantly delineates between her work time and private time, so please do not take it personally if she does not respond outside of her business hours. She encourages patients to create such balance in their own lives, and she does this for her own mental health and to role model boundaries.

When are your office hours?

Monday through Thursday 8:30am-5:30pm MST, and she usually reserves Mondays for report writing. P.S. We are based in Arizona, USA which does not do daylight savings time (except on the Diné/Navajo nation). As such, our time difference will be different if where you live changes the clocks. 

What's a psychological assessment like?

Dr. Malak can currently only do virtual assessments. As such, she or a trusted colleague will proctor you taking psychological assessments virtually. Many of these are true or false questions and may range from 300-500 questions each. Depending on your needs, your virtual assessment will likely take 2 to 3 hours. She will also do about a 2-hour clinicial interview. As she expands her offerings to include other assessments like cognitive assessments, you will need to visit an office and do some more testing that can range from 3 to 6 hours. She may also request your medical records and to talk with your therapist and others like teachers, parents, partners, spiritual leaders, etc. She integrates all the information and provides feedback to you or sends the assessment directly to whoever requested it (e.g., a lawyer, the court, your employer, etc.). Usually, it takes about 2 weeks from the last date you conduct testing for Dr. Malak to finalize your report.

Dr. Malak does not test patients who she sees for therapy unless it is directly related to improving therapy outcomes like a diagnostic clarification assessment. She does this to avoid ethical issues related to having dual roles. 

Why would I need a psychological assessment?

There are many reasons you may want or need a psychological assessment. You may be in therapy and the therapist may want more psychological information to complete a differential diagnosis (i.e., they are having a hard time diagnosing your mental illness and a psychological assessment clarifies diagnosis to then aid treatment). You may also need an Independent Medical/Psychological Evaluation (IME) if you are undergoing a workmen’s compensation case. IMEs are ordered by courts if you received a psychological injury on the job. Some employers also request preemployment psychological evaluations such as for pilots and police officers. Fitness-for-duty evaluations are also common for some industries like the military, police officers, pilots, and medical professionals. Those are the main types of assessments Dr. Malak does. She does autism evaluations with another agency, Axis for Autism. Due to the need for office space, she does not do these through Malak Psychology. There are other types of psychological assessments that Dr. Malak does not currently do such as psychosexual, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological evaluations. Please contact her and she will either conduct your pscyhological assessment or refer you to a clinician who specializes in the type of assessment you need.


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