It's All About Relationships

What is counseling?

Counseling (also called therapy) is a process by which a counselor listens and attends to a client (or patient) through a healing process. Therapy has specific goals in mind, and the sessions explore and point to those goals. The goals can change over time, but there should always be a treatment plan in place for the goals.

How do I know when I need a counselor?

If you are feeling caught up in distress patterns and can’t see a way out; if you have repeated thoughts along themes of self-deficiency, self-recrimination or judgement; if you are having thoughts of harming yourself; if you find it valuable and helpful to “think out loud”; if you think externally processing what is happening in your life with a non-judgmental, trained advocate would be useful, then therapy might be right for you.

Can you guarantee counseling will help me?

While many people have derived much benefit from therapy, improvement often does not happen immediately or in a constant manner. It is important to understand that there may be periods during the course of counseling when you may experience emotional discomfort, and/or changes in relationships. There may be a fluctuation of symptoms or progress over the course of treatment. You may request, at any time, a review of your treatment progress from a counselor.  You can also refuse any treatment with which you are uncomfortable. Counseling is not an exact science and no guarantees can be made regarding the outcome of treatment or procedures provided.

I have tried therapy before and it did not help me, how will this be different?

The single most important factor is finding a therapist with whom you feel you resonate. Research shows that the best outcomes are made when the client feels a strong rapport with the counselor. Additionally, it is important to know what your therapist offers, and what you want to get out of therapy. You have a right to know what therapeutic approach the counselor is taking, and the progress your therapist thinks you are making toward your goals. You also have a right to know what kind of education the clinician received, and how that might affect the therapeutic process. Your consistent attendance in counseling can make a profound difference. If you take these aspects into consideration, it will improve your chances of having a positive different outcome.

This all looks interesting, but I don’t live near you. Do you travel?

I travel within the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I am available for telesessions for people who live outside of this region.

Do you take barter?

I do not take barter because barter creates a dual relationship that threatens the impartiality that is crucial to the therapeutic process. It is also against my Code of Ethics as a Social Worker. You can find a copy of the complete Code of Ethics here from the National Association of Social Workers.

Do you see couples?

I love working with couples! I have taken the Gottman Training Level 1 and 2, and use their materials in my couples’ counseling. I also rely on Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is attachment based and developed by Dr. Sue Johnson.

What is the difference between couples counseling and mediation?

Mediation focuses on a specific problem or set of problems and is usually resolved within one to three sessions. The ethical guidelines around mediation are different as well; in therapy, your confidentiality is totally guaranteed. In mediation, it is generally known that it is permissible for the mediator to disclose that mediation has happened, but it is not permissible to disclose the content of the session(s). In couples’ counseling, the counselor works with the couple for an extended period of time to increase the communication, closeness and resonance between the individuals in the couple.

How long is a session?

Sessions are generally 50 minutes. Initial sessions are longer, and the sessions may occasionally go over 50 minutes, but this cannot be guaranteed; sometimes it’s not possible for me to extend the session time.

Are you available outside of session time?

Generally speaking, I am not. That said, you are always free to reach out to me to see if something can be scheduled in the near future. Your intake paperwork has referrals to agencies that can support someone going through a mental health crisis, and my outgoing message has a referral to the White Bird Crisis line, which is local to Eugene, Oregon.

What should I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome of the sessions?

In order for counseling to be successful, it is crucial that you talk to your counselor when you are not satisfied. Sometimes working through moments like this can deepen the therapeutic process. If you and I establish a therapeutic relationship and you let me know you are not satisfied, we will work together to improve the process. If necessary, I can make a referral to one of my colleagues.

How will I know when it’s time to stop counseling?

Counseling should end when the goals of counseling have been met. There are times when the therapist needs to terminate the counseling relationship as well. One example is when issues being raised in the sessions are outside that counselor’s area of practice: you have a right to have your concerns addressed by someone who has the training and expertise to address those concerns. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding my scope of practice.

What is the difference between mediation and counseling?

Mediation is used when two or more people have an issue to be solved, typically conducted in one to three sessions. Counseling is more appropriate for a therapeutic process focusing on deeper meaning, both individually and between participants (like in couple’s counseling).

When should I consider mediation?

Mediation helps people who are in a conflict find resolution. Mediation can be considered whenever two or more people are in a conflict that seems intractable. If the interactions between participants appear have become deeply polarized, or if it seems that the interactions are chaotic, a mediator can help slow things down and improve communication.

How can I be sure mediation will help?

You can’t. But in the training that the Center For Dialogue and Resolution gives on mediation, they share that statistics show that 89% of mediated sessions (using their model) are successful—that is, the participants leave happier than when the arrived. Of the remaining 11%, some come to solutions after the fact.

How can I prepare for mediation?

Knowing what you want and the values that underlie what it is you want are key to a successful mediation. Be ready to listen, even if you don’t agree with the other person.

How long does mediation last?

In keeping with my training, I will conduct a 30 minute consultation with each of you to make sure we all agree that my skills fit your needs. Sessions usually take 90 minutes. More time can be contracted for, or an additional session can be set up if necessary.

What is your cancellation policy?

I require 24 hour notice for cancellations. If you do not give 24 hour notice, you are responsible for the cost of the session.

Do you work with diverse populations?

Celebrating diversity is important to me, and I invest significant time in increasing my cultural awareness. I am comfortable with non-heteronormative life styles and non-binary gender presentations. I have experience seeing through to the human in front of me, while taking into account how the larger culture rewards some constituencies (white, male, middle class) and oppresses others (women, people of color, poor, Jewish, old people, disabled people, and so forth). If you ever feel I am not being sensitive to your particular cultural presentation, I welcome your feedback.