Counseling & Therapy Services
Making the decision to pursue therapy requires courage.
For many people, making the decision to pursue therapy requires courage (or desperation.) The feelings of individuals and couples may range from ambivalent and suspicious to excessively optimistic about either the process or potential results.
Some people are in crisis, struggling with a significant loss (whether a death, divorce, job, relationship, etc.). Others want to change behaviors, beliefs, or relationships that are no longer satisfying. Some are overextended in taking care of others, and inexperienced in taking adequate care of self. Still others seek clarity, a different perspective, or the opportunity to explore the multigenerational patterns that unconsciously influence our choices. Couples seek counseling to regain feelings of trust and love that they once had, to negotiate tough transition periods, to improve communication, to salvage a marriage that has been distant or unhappy for a long time. Some couples have a crisis (affair, internet relationship, pornography) but most struggle with a variety of issues.
Therapy (or whatever you choose to call it) cannot 'fix' your life or relationship. It can, however, be part of a process of initiating and implementing change, of resolving past or current conflicts, of moving towards increased personal and professional satisfaction. This process is often a catalyst for other changes, for experimentation, for growth. It will not work, however, without your participation.
What sort of commitment is involved?
To start, there is no commitment. I believe that clients should meet with a potential therapist to "check them out" and see if the client feels like it would be a good match. Part of the therapeutic process is the relationship between therapist and client, the trust that develops. After all, to be willing to risk making changes or trying new behaviors, you have to trust the person making the suggestions. If, after meeting with me, and thinking about it, you decide that you want to work with me, then we can discuss the "sort of commitment" involved. This will be a shared process.
In general, however, I don't have an indefinite... "let's just talk and see what happens" ... style. I prefer to define a few particular goals, decide on a number of appointments, and then see how much we can accomplish within that time period. We can then reevaluate the process, and progress, and decide whether to continue. I often begin with 2 to 5 once-a-week appointments, and then increase the time between appointments. Were you to decide that you only wished six appointments, however, I might prefer to space them monthly rather than weekly to increase the time for 'practice' and reading assignments between appointments. You may choose at any point and for any reason to terminate. I do request notice, and one final session, so that we can sum up what we have covered and discuss a plan for the future.
In working with clients during a high-stress period in their lives (divorce, affair, grief, a critical decision that needs to be made, recovery from addiction, family crisis, etc.), we move into survival mode. It can be hard to even see what the goals will look like until the intensity lowers and life feels more 'normal.' In such cases, we work together, as often as necessary, doing whatever it takes to cope with the presenting challenge.
There is, in my experience, a correlation between how much clients feel they have accomplished, how satisfied they are with their changes, and how willing they are to follow through with tasks assigned between appointments. All in all, much of what is accomplished in a therapeutic process will occur outside of the appointment.
I do request that clients have a physical exam, in particular when there are symptoms, whether depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc., that could have a physical cause. All clinical social workers are required to "consult with the client primary care physician to determine if there may be a medical condition or medication that may be causing or contributing to the client's symptoms of mental disorder." (KSA 65-6306). I will request a release to consult with your physician. You may approve or deny this request.
Can you work as my therapist and also do my mediation?
No. Once I work as your therapist, I cannot also be your mediator. They are separate and distinct roles.
How long are appointments?
Appointments are scheduled in advance, varying from weekly to monthly intervals. Each appointment is for 60 minutes, sometimes more. The fee is per session rather than strictly by the hour, although appointments that extend from 1 1/2 to 2 hours will be billed accordingly. If I start an appointment late, we will go for the full time. If you arrive late, however, I may have to stop at the scheduled time, particularly if someone else is waiting.
What kinds of therapy do you do?
I work with individuals, couples and families. Sometimes I will start out with an individual, then include a spouse, then have a few family sessions (if the issues involve the kids.) I enjoy pre-marital counseling with engaged couples, adjustment issues with blended families, "can-we-make-it" with couples on the brink of divorce. I do a lot of work with people who are trying to make life-changing decisions... "Should I stay in this marriage?" "Can I survive on my own?" "Can I leave this job?" "What will happen if I ________ ?"
I work with men and women coping with health issues (cancer, diabetes, mental health concerns), grief and loss issues (death, divorce, betrayal, abandonment), relationship issues (spouses, parents, adult children, friends.) I work with parents struggling with their kids and kids struggling with life, growing up and their worried parents.
I try to help people make the best choices that they can with the information they have at a given time. I work with people on how to communicate more clearly, how to express the emotions they want to express and control the ones that need to be controlled, how to resolve inner conflicts so that they don't sabotage their relationships.
I do not adhere to a particular modality or theory. Rather, I integrate Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Relational, Behavioral, Narrative... and many more. Bottom-line, I use the skills and resources I've developed over the years to help people make the changes they want to be more satisfied with their relationships, work and lives.
How confidential are these sessions?
Whatever you share with me stays with me, unless you sign a release authorizing me to share particular information (i.e. with insurance companies, physicians, attorneys, etc.) With certain insurance companies, releasing data is required for reimbursement. Overall, my notes are for my personal use only and I only send insurance companies a diagnosis and/or summary statement. I have declined to participate with HMOs and PPOs that require a provider to share intimate details of treatment as so doing violates my own sense of ethical treatment.
At times I consult with other therapists for perspective or to brainstorm (at no charge to the client.) If I ever were to discuss your case, I would not use any identifying information. There are some exceptions to confidentiality: should I be subpoenaed; should you indicate that you seriously intend to harm yourself or another; should I suspect child abuse. In any of these instances, I would try to discuss with you first any action I intend to take unless there is an imminent threat or danger to self or another person.
What is your education, training and experience?
I'm a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW). I was also a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), but it costs to maintain dual licenses and has no impact on 3rd party payment. I've maintained a private clinical practice for over 30+ years.
I received my M.S.W. in 1978 from the University of Texas, Austin, where I previously taught English. I was with the Washburn University Counseling Center for 8 years ('78-'86), working with individuals, couples, families and groups. In '84, I co-founded a small agency, The Family Center, and was actively involved until '94 developing community education programs and support groups for women, couples and families. I taught graduate level clinical skills and supervised graduate interns part-time at the K.U. School of Social Welfare from '86 to '99.
In terms of post-graduate education, I completed a two-year marriage and family therapy training program at the Menninger Clinic in '81. Over the years, I've continued my professional education through seminars and workshops. I am not listed in the Yellow Pages, do no advertising and work only by referral. Almost every client I work with has been personally referred to me by a former client, their physician, attorney or a friend.