Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does counseling really do anything? How does it work?
A: I could not in good conscience charge for my services if I did not believe in the process. I have seen first hand people go from contemplating suicide to feeling satisfied, confident and excited about their future. Can you put a price on healing a marriage that used to make you miserable and now gives your life meaning? If you can’t get out of bed to go to work, how much is your ability to function throughout the day worth? Stress and anxiety leads to all kinds of medical problems such as high blood pressure and ulcers. Do you think insurance companies would let go of any money for counseling if it did not save them money in the long run?
That being said, the way it works is a bit of a mystery. But does a doctor truly heal a wound, or do they clean it out, close it up and create a safe environment while the natural healing takes place by itself? I often tell people that one of the first benefits of counseling is that explaining what is going on in your head and heart to another person requires you to sort it out first so you can explain it. My job is to create a place where you feel safe to do that. You can find out more about my personal style by following this link. Beyond that, consider that people spend most of their life reacting. Counseling is a place to stop and get to work on what contributes to problem reactions, how to make changes so problems do not keep happening and to do preventative maintenance on life. Counseling is like getting a check up, getting an oil change, home maintenance, budgeting, exercise or goal setting in that it usually does not seem urgent and can easily be neglected, but it pays off greatly in the long run.
Think about a time that someone said something that drastically changed your life. How valuable was that piece of advice? Did you just walk up and ask for it, or did it come as the result of a much longer conversation or series of talks with a trusted relationship? Counseling is an investment in exploring your needs with someone you come to trust, who can give you the right mix of understanding, gentle encouragement, tough questions, wisdom and new perspectives to allow you to make positive changes towards becoming the person you want to be. Counseling is a way to go from just surviving to really thriving in life.
Q: How much do you charge for counseling? How much will it cost me?
A: $95 per hour is my sliding scale rate that most people qualify for if they do not have insurance. If you do have insurance that covers the visits, then what you pay will likely be less than that and you may not owe anything at all. Depending on the contract allowable, deductibles and your income, it could be more. Insurance is a very complicated thing and we’ll usually have to figure it out as we go.
Q: Do you charge for cancellations and no-shows?
A: While I do have an entry in my contract to allow for a $50 charge for late cancellations and no-shows, this is a rare occurrence. I figure that if I were sick, I would not expect to pay you if I cancelled your appointment with little notice, so why would I expect you to pay me for a late cancellation. Since many of the people I see struggle with anxiety or depression that makes it hard to get out of the house at times, I do not want to add any stress to the process of getting help, or make people feel like they have to lie about why they cannot make an appointment, so I rarely charge for late cancellations. If there is an ongoing problem, we may discuss issuing a charge in the future. As for no-showing appointments, I have decided to set a boundary here. I do my best to be ready for you at your set time, which means that if I am not notified of a missed appointment, I will be sitting here doing nothing. I will waive one no-show without question, but after that I will charge $50 for missed appointments without notice.
Q: Do you report back to my employer (spouse, parents, etc.)?
A: Confidentiality is one of the fundamental principles of successful counseling and your private information is protected by law. If you are over 18, no one has a right to know what is said in session without your express written consent. There are some limits of confidentiality, which I always review in the first session, but for the most part, the answer is No. If anyone calls to ask me about your sessions, I cannot even confirm or deny that I see anyone by that name, unless you have clearly given me permission to do so, and that includes referring providers and psychiatrists.
Q: Do I have to dig up past trauma or talk about my childhood?
A: For some therapists, that is a necessity. However, my style is all about following you at your pace towards your goals. If the conversation gets into those things, then I will gladly talk about them with you. But if you tell me you do not want to get into it, I believe we can still find healing and work toward solutions without delving into those details. While I may gently encourage people at some times to expand their comfort zone and process difficult topics, my primary goal is to respect your boundaries and that means respecting areas you tell me are off limits.
Q: Do you do addiction counseling?
A: I am not a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, so I am not allowed to do counseling that centers on those types of addiction. Now, most people often have some element of dependency and that is acceptable as our work to address depression, anxiety, stress, relationship problems and coping skills should improve other areas of functioning, such as the need for self medicating. Mainly, if you are specifically looking for rehab or help with a chemical addiction, then I will need to refer you to a good LADC. I also do not do smoking cessation counseling.
I can help with sexual addictions, gambling or other addictions, such as video games or social media.
Q: Do you do hypnosis, testing, evaluations, arbitration or reports for legal determinations?
A: No. I focus on doing one thing and doing it well, and that is talk therapy.
Q: Do you prescribe medications?
A: No. A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who specializes in medication management. While psychiatrists can also do talk therapy, a psychologist or a counselor (like me) uses talk therapy and other mental health techniques to assist people in processing their issues and learning new coping skills. Psychologists and counselors are not able to prescribe medication. If you are looking for a good psychiatrist or nurse practitioner, I highly recommend the highly trained professionals at the Edmond Psychiatric Associates.
Some people are very opposed to medications, while others find them a necessity. I am a counselor because I lean heavily toward the value of talk therapy and growing to be able to handle your burdens, but I have seen first hand that some people truly struggle with chemical imbalances or genetic factors that require psychiatric treatment. Research shows that counseling and medication usually are more effective together than either is separately. If your emotions are too overwhelming, you may not be able to think or will yourself to control them, but if you reduce your emotional distress and do not make actual life changes, you will likely not get to the point of life satisfaction you want. For some people, expecting life change without medication is like asking someone with asthma to run a race without their inhaler.
Q: Will you tell me if I should divorce my spouse or significant other?
A: Some people do appear to come to counseling looking for permission to get a divorce or break up. If you are dating someone unhealthy and you already know what you need to do, then I can help clarify that for you. Usually, I encourage people to do their best to take control over what they can to improve relationships, because every relationship is going to have tough seasons. When it comes to marriage, I’ll go ahead and admit that I will always fight for the marriage and never advocate divorce as an option. You won’t pursue option A to the best of your ability if you are daydreaming about your escape plan B. Of course, separation and safety issues are a more complicated matter to be determined on a case by case basis.
Q: How long does counseling last? How often will I need to come?
A: That totally depends on you and your situation. My job is to put myself out of a job, so when you achieve your goals of therapy and/or stop benefiting from therapy, then we will discuss discharge. While not common, a few people manage to have their epiphany or figure out all they need in a couple visits. Some people have deep seeded or ongoing issues that may require perpetual counseling to manage. Last time I checked, clients visit me on average 7 times, but that includes people who only came once.
There is not set formula or requirement, but I usually suggest visits once per week. That seems to be a good pace for people to process things from one visit and have more events to talk about next time, as well as setting a rhythm that makes appointments easy to remember. Still, some people find that biweekly, or monthly visits are more fitting due to their financial, scheduling or personal needs. As people make progress, the frequency of visits often is decreased to prepare for eventual discharge.