What to know before you schedule a session

 

I realize that deciding to seek outside help, is a big step, both emotionally and financially. But we prioritize trivial things in our lives so often, that spending money on a significant thing like the emotional health of your family is a no-brainer, right? You’ll save yourself so much stress – and quite possibly health costs as a result – in the long run.

But you may still have some questions. I believe in being completely open and up-front about what it looks like to work with me. I’ve put together some Frequently Asked Questions below, so you can get a good idea if this is the right step for your family.

What can I expect from a first appointment with you?

Initially, it may look like the pretty standard counselor-client set up that you see in the movies at first glance. The first appointment will be with just you, the parents. I will show you the play room, and give you a chance to ask questions. We will also spend some time signing sfather-with-two-kids-playingome documents and going over my policies, and you can ask me whatever questions that you have.

Then I will get a fairly detailed history of everyone in your family to get a good sense of the emotional and behavioral landscape, and what you’re struggling with. This session is really about information gathering, but don’t for a minute think it is without my sincere care and compassion. I know it isn’t easy to share personal information with a stranger, and certainly isn’t easy to admit where you think you might be failing your kids, or where your child might be showing signs of struggling. I will make it as comfortable as I can for you, offer some tips, reassurance and strategies that you can take home and apply immediately.

After we talk in-depth about your current situation and goals, I’ll be able to tell you what I think would be most appropriate going forward – whether or not I suggest meetings with your whole family, just the parents, or just your child, or a combination.

How long are sessions?

The length of each appointment will vary depending on how many people I’m meeting with. Individual work with children or parents (one or both) is a 50-minute appointment. This leaves me time at the end of the session to clean up the playroom, record the activity, and record your payments.

If I’m meeting with a family of three or more, the session tends to need more time. I’ve tried to keep sessions with parents and their children, or sessions between the adults in a blended family, to under an hour and it just doesn’t work very well. So for those more complex dynamics I allow for a 90-minute session.

We will discuss these options thoroughly at the first appointment, and before scheduling future sessions. I want to make sure you are comfortable, and understand and agree to the plan for your child and/or family going forward.

How many times will we have to meet?

The average time I spend with a family or child is about 6-8 weeks. It is impossible to guess, of course, because every situation is so unique and the needs vary greatly. Some people want ongoing support, and will budget my fee into their monthly expenses. Some want help with a specific problem and it takes just a few sessions to resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction, other times it takes several. But this gives you an idea of the investment you’re making in your family.

How much will it cost? Do you bill insurance?

As a parent and family educator and development specialist, not a counselor, I do not bill insurance. I accept private pay only.

MY RATES (effective October 1, 2016):

$200 – Intake session, 90-minutes, in-depth history, forms signed. This appointment is mandatory.

$120 – regular individual session, 50-minutes with just parent/s, or just your child.

$180 – regular family session, 80-minutes with parent/s and child/ren, or more than two adults (i.e., blended families)

Other expenses are:

$25 per 15-minutes (or part thereof, after the first 15 minutes) of between-session support via phone (I do not offer email support) Complimentary support under 15-minutes per my availability.

$25 per each 15-minutes (or part thereof) of consultation with teachers, primary care providers, or other parties via phone, in-person or email.

I do not write letters or testimonials for court hearings. For support in legal matters, I suggest you find a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

How are you different than another counselor in the valley?

Our valley is filled with talented and caring counselors with a spectrum of specialities and ways of working with clients.

I have a unique education and perspective on how families work together. Unlike many counselors, I have training and experience working with preverbal children in a therapeutic setting, as well as training in the psychological impacts of pregnancy and birth, adoption, and how our earliest experiences shape how we think, make decisions and relate to others.

This perspective supports and enhances my genuine love and respect for young people of all ages and their families. I look holistically at your entire family history, where you’ve come from and where you want to go. baby with bubbles

I treat children with a level of respect and admiration that many adults aren’t familiar with in our culture. As a result, kids of all ages tend to trust me quickly, and I can become an advocate and objective person to help them navigate through whatever situation is facing them.

If I learn something at the intake that requires specific attention, I may refer your family to a licensed mental health practitioner. I do not diagnose, and my work focuses on what’s working in your family, and what can be improved in the emotional and relational dynamics, rather than seeking a diagnosis of a disorder in an individual. I will be working to help establish balance by teaching skills to parents and children and allowing children to express themselves through play, drawing, and verbal expression. Most of the time, families and kids are already healthy and strong, but are finding themselves off-track, and just need some outside support to realign.

The fundamental difference is, of course, that I bring my whole self: My silly, unpretentious way of interacting, my stories, my sincere belief that I can help you, and my warmth and compassionate heart. Every practitioner is different, and you need to find the person that is right for you and your needs. So, I encourage you to shop around, ask questions, and really find the right person.

If you’re feeling ready to schedule or talk directly to me about it, give me a call at 509- 387- 1083 or fill out the form below and tell me when is a good time to get back to you.