FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS COUNSELING?
Counseling, or psychotherapy, is a professional relationship with a therapist to help you with personal problems or becoming more acquainted with your most authentic self. The counseling relationship differs from both social friendships and traditional patient-doctor relationships. Rather than giving you specific advice, counselors serve as skilled listeners who help you clarify issues, discover wishes and explore feelings, which can help you deal more effectively with your problems.
HOW DO I KNOW I NEED A COUNSELOR?
Have you noticed a change in your appetite? How about your sleep patterns? Is it difficult to fall asleep? To stay asleep? Are you experiencing difficulties in a relationship (with your partner, friend, spouse, or family member)? Are you experiencing difficulties at work? Do you simply not feel good? There are countless reasons to come to counseling and remember: ANYONE CAN BENEFIT FROM COUNSELING. Think of it as a place to come to get to know yourself better.
HOW LONG DOES COUNSELING TAKE?
It varies from person to person, depending on goals, needs, and interests. I recommend clients initially attend counseling sessions weekly to build momentum and start seeing results sooner. Just like going to the gym consistently will help you achieve results faster than going to the gym once a month, it is recommended clients meet regularly with a counselor. Because you are learning and practicing new skills, the more frequently you practice them, the easier it will be to master them. Counseling ends when clients feel confident they can manage things on their own and can return any time as needed.
HOW DOES COUNSELING HELP?
It is therapeutic to talk about yourself and your concerns. Most of us have probably had the experience of relief after talking with a friend or family member about something we had been holding in. Usually our concerns seem more manageable when we talk about them with someone we trust. As we talk, our perspective on the problem often begins to change.
Talking with a counselor will also help you:
Pinpoint problems – and understand aspects of the problems that may be improved.
Identify negative or problematic thinking patterns that contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and to develop a more positive outlook.
Explore learned thoughts and behaviors that create or maintain problems.
Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life.
Discover strengths you have and how to use them to grow stronger in other areas.
Counseling goes beyond the obvious, and helps get us "unstuck." It is often the case that we know what we should be doing to help us feel better, but can’t seem to be able to do it. Counseling helps us work through the obstacles that keep us from doing what we know would be helpful.
WHEN ARE YOU IN THE OFFICE?
I am typically available Monday through Thursday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Other times are available by appointment (depending on availability).
HOW MUCH DOES COUNSELING WITH YOU COST?
I charge $150.00 for your initial intake appointment. Each 55-minute counseling session after that is billed at $120.00. I do accept some insurance. I am happy to check your heath insurance benefits and convey to you what services are covered.
HOW DOES INSURANCE WORK?
Using health insurance for counseling can be frustrating at times but I try to be as helpful and accommodating as possible. I am in-network with Premera Blue Cross (therefore most all Blue Cross Blue Shield plans), Lifewise, and First Choice Health Network (not to be mistaken with First Health). For all other plans I am "out-of-network." I am also able to bill HSA accounts.
Before engaging in counseling I encourage you to contact your insurance company and ask them about your outpatient mental heath benefit. Be sure to specify whether you are asking for in- or out-of-network benefits.
It is also important to ask and understand whether or not you have a deductible. A deductible is an amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance will pay anything toward your care. This amount can be anywhere from $100 to $10,000 (and beyond) per year so it's important you know what it is. Make sure you ask, "Do I have a deductible?" and, "Does my deductible apply to my mental health benefit?"
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT A FIRST APPOINTMENT?
The intake appointment consists of building a mutually supportive rapport and obtaining a detailed history of your presenting concerns. The more information I have, the better I can help you. Just as a doctor would do a thorough exam before diagnosing a medical condition, I will ask questions about how long you have been dealing with your presenting issue/s, their impact on your life, the intensity and duration of your challenges, how you have managed them so far, what has been effective and what hasn’t. I will also find out what has helped you overcome challenges in the past and apply this knowledge to help you overcome your current concerns.
HOW DO I SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT?
I have day and limited evening office hours available. Please call or email to schedule an appointment.
Or use this handy button!
WHERE IS YOUR OFFICE?
My office is located in South Bellingham (Fairhaven):
1106 Harris Ave., Ste. 304
Bellingham, WA 98225
Look for the building “Finnegan’s Alley,” sandwiched between 12th and 11th Streets on Harris Avenue. Go in through the atrium, the elevator is immediately on your right.