I work individually with Adults and children, 14 y.o. and older. Occasionally, I will work with children a bit younger when they are clearly more developmentally advanced. I work with an array of disorders and problematic situations (see Counseling FAQ’s ).
At this time I am not taking any new clients who are still in the midst of an active, or severe, addiction or obsessive/compulsive behavior. Moderate eating disorders are the exception. I am in a position to work with those who have entered active abstinence or sobriety, have a support network in place, and are working to maintain their abstinence/sobriety.
Individual counseling is a series of private therapeutic sessions.
The focus of the work is on helping you find ways to shift out of troubling mental and emotional conditions and/or situations, and into living in more alignment with your true Self. If necessary we may work deeply by addressing the original sources of distress in your past. On the other hand, we might prioritize working directly with elements in your current situation that are blocking the contented, forward momentum of your life. We can then use the appropriate therapeutic tools to find solutions for problematic conditions and healing any past wounds still affecting the present. (Links for more information: The Self-Awareness Counseling Approach, Counseling FAQs, Counseling Vs Coaching Vs Consulting and pages under the Specializations menu heading.)
Frequency & Length of Sessions
Therapy at Self-Awareness Counseling typically starts with weekly, 55-min sessions, spaced further apart as progress is made. Some clients, especially those who like taking their time with the IFS work, find that they prefer longer sessions of 80 or even 110-minutes. However, the pacing and length of time can vary widely depending on the best fit for you. A trusting, healing therapeutic relationship can take some time to develop, depending on your interpersonal and family history. It is something that is ever evolving, but is a key healing element running throughout the counseling process and critical to the success of therapy. (See Counseling FAQs)and The Therapeutic Relationship, below.)
The most common exception is that using your health insurance to pay for any portion of your fee grants them access to your records with me (though they rarely do this). This is because insurance claims require diagnostic codes defining the therapeutic work in terms of mental disorders. If they have paid any portion of a session they have the right to audit my case notes to make sure the treatments match your diagnoses. This does all leave an electronic trail, but HIPAA laws are designed to increase confidentiality in the digital age. Confidentiality is more secure for private pay clients (i.e.funds come from a private bank account & not from an outside agency like insurance, medicare, medicaid, workman’s comp, etc.). (For more information about using your out-of-network health insurance benefits click here.)
Mandated reporting and legal limits
There are also legal limits to confidentiality in extreme & rare situations. For instance, I am required to report any child or elder abuse that I have information about. I would call in assistance if I felt a client was at risk to themselves or others. In a medical emergency I would disclose a client’s name, emergency contact and any other relevant medical information I had.
All of the limits to confidentiality will be thoroughly explained to you before you begin the counseling work. If concerns about confidentiality are preventing you from considering therapy, please ask to discuss this in the introductory consultation I offer to determine if working with me would be a good fit.
Your Release of Information
When working with me if you would ever like me to speak with someone else about your counseling work, you would sign a release of information (ROI) so that I could do so legally. We would designate on the form specifically how much information I was at liberty to discuss and with whom.
(For related confidentiality information click here.)
The therapeutic relationship with your mental health practitioner is a unique kind of relationship. It is very different than a social relationship, although still very caring and friendly. It’s designed to quickly create a safe space for you to share very personal information. The focus of your interactions will be on you and your experiences. The therapist won’t share very much about themselves. This assures that your time together is spent on your healing process. For some people this might be a little confusing at first, especially for those new to the counseling process. It can also be very different for those who are used to putting others first and don’t often talk about themselves.
It’s a singular type of healing relationship among the healing fields as well. This is because an important part of the “medicine” that therapy offers, is the client-focused relationship itself. For many individuals, having someone listen to them empathically, without putting their own needs first, is a new and deeply needed experience. For some, it is the first time they have ever felt truly heard. For others it’s the first time they’ve ever trusted the sanctity and security of a relationship to disclose very personal things.
One of the main reasons it can be confusing is because in everyday society, an empathic, caring and helpful relationship typically signals a personal and social one. In a healthy relationship between friends the balance is achieved by equal sharing of personal information, help with tasks or problems, and other caring, fun or supportive exchanges. In the therapeutic relationship, the balance is achieved through a financial exchange for expertise, care and attention. This doesn’t mean that genuine mutual fondness is not there, or that you won’t get to know your therapist somewhat, but it is generated in the context of a helper/helpee relationship. If this dynamic were to continue outside of the office, in any non-therapeutic context, there would exist a fundamental power imbalance. This is called a “dual relationship” and can be potentially confusing and harmful for both the client and therapist. The ethics codes of all mental health fields caution against dual relationships for many good reasons.
So at Self-Awareness Counseling, in order to keep clarity around how you view and interact with me as your therapist, I will refrain from entering into any other kinds of relationships with you. For instance, I won’t knowingly make, or accept, friend requests from you on personal social media platforms. I won’t be entering into any regular social, gift or card exchanging routines with you. Depending on the situation, I might feel it would be best to step down from a committee, or leave a group, if I discovered we were both members.
However, like any relationship, this is a dynamic, ongoing process and unanticipated situations are likely to come up. If that happens, we will talk about it and find a solution together. Some of the ways that holding these boundaries may play out will be discussed in your first session. But, if at any point during the counseling process, any of this becomes confusing, please let me know! As your therapist, I don’t expect you to always know when a line is being crossed because, again, although we will engage in many friendly & socially customary ways, the relationship is not the usual social one. Therefore, it is my job to understand where the lines are, and bring it up with you, if I notice we need to clarify them.
For More Information:
Click on the images below (or on the right), or see the pages under the “Specializations” and “About Counseling” menus.