- How do I get started?
Please call me at 208.360.2365 to set a free introductory appointment. During that hour we can complete a full assessment of your needs (except in the case of couples counseling), and then discuss a specific treatment plan.This is not a quick phone consultation, but a full-hour meeting in my office in Rexburg. This is the same service for which LDS Family Services charges $110.00.
Feel free to contact other counselors and see if they will also meet with you at no cost so you can make the best decision regarding who to work with.
In the case of couples or marriage therapy it will take more time to complete a full assessment, but the first one-hour session is still free.
- Why do you offer to meet with people for free the first time?
Having provided counseling since 1988 it has been clear to me that not all professionals are equally effective in addressing all needs for all people. It would be rather arrogant to assume otherwise. Since I prefer to offer services with which I have special experience or expertise, I like to do a thorough assessment of your needs before suggesting I am the best person for the job.
So this first, no-cost session allows me to see whether I believe I can truly help before you incur any costs. Just as important it gives you the opportunity to see whether you are comfortable and confident with my approach and experience. If either of us determines I am not the best suited for the job, or are unsure of my approach we can discuss other treatment options or professional who might better meet those needs.
- Why does the assessment of a marriage take more than one session?
That is a very important question.
In 1988 I began working with couples–both married and not-yet-married-. At that time I began by asking the partners to explain what they considered the problems. Usually one partner began by voicing a frustration, while the other waited for an opportunity to defend him- or herself. Sometimes they took turns complaining; other times they feuded in my office the same way they did at home, but with a little more tact and self-control. Some of the information they gave the therapist was a response to the statements or behavior of the partners, rather than an independent opinion or observation.
In about 1992 I began using a different process for gathering information quickly and most accurately without provoking conflict in an already-delicate situation. I now use a very structured assessment process devised by the late Neil Jacobson.
First meeting: I meet with both partners together to get a history of the relationship–how they met, what attracted them to one another, etc. I learn how they made the decisions to marry (or not marry yet), as well as specific challenges they faced along the way. I also learn about how they adjusted to one another, and when and how things became difficult for them.
I also meet with each partner individually one time, to get their perspectives on the problems that bother them. I ask how they make decisions together, how they argue or handle conflict, and how each family might be influencing the situation. I also ask how each person believes they might be contributing to the problems, even if only accidentally. These and other questions help me to gain a much more complete picture of the relationship–far more than I could gain through more traditional counseling methods.
After gathering this information from the woman and from the man I meet with them both again to lay out my “formulation”, how I understand their situation. Most often many parts of the puzzle are made clear for each marriage partner; they can now see the problem in a different light. This gives them a chance to see how well I truly understand their dilemma, and to perhaps see things they had not seen before. Opportunities are provided for each to correct any misunderstandings I might have.
I also lay out a specific treatment plan,based upon the information gleaned from our meetings and over 25 years’ experience as a marriage therapist. We can discuss the details in ways that help each to decide whether the approach I propose will meet their needs. You’ll know exactly what we are doing before you make a decision to proceed.
While this assessment process requires a substantial investment of your time and resources, it is also the best way to assure that each person’s experience is understood and factored into the solutions. It also makes the work progress more quickly and with greater focus.
- How long will counseling take and how often will we meet,?
I seldom offer long-term counseling or psychotherapy. Most of the services I offer will take about 8 – 12 weeks, though sometimes you are able to reach your goals more quickly.Of course this depends largely upon your goals and how willing you are to do “homework” between sessions.
It goes without saying that working daily to make improvements is much more effective than putting forth an effort once a week. (Just ask Mrs. Leavitt, my 5th-grade piano teacher!)
It will be much easier for you to get the benefits of counseling or psychotherapy if you intentionally put the new skills or perspectives to work on a daily basis. This becomes especially important as we work to help you change the way you think or interact with family members. It is not enough to talk about or make discoveries about your thoughts and behaviors; we want to help you make necessary changes right away and this is best accomplished by weaving new skills into life right away.
Like physical therapy, psychotherapy is successful only when client and therapist work together to learn and practice the kinds of changes you would like to accomplish. (Please look at specific information about services for different conditions or challenges, found under this tab.
- Homework? What kind of homework can I expect working with you?
We will work together to determine that kind of self-help work you can do between sessions to make the work go quicker and more effectively. “Homework” for mood problems, like anxiety or depression, often include reading specific chapters or articles, and completing worksheets to identify and change thoughts that contribute to emotions.
In the case of anxiety or phobias, it will almost always require confronting some of your fears in order to get over them for good.
When working to overcome relationship problems it will be important to examine some of the ways that you might be accidentally contributing to the problems and then make subtle, but important, changes.
- How much does counseling cost?
I currently charge $150 per one-hour counseling session. As noted above, working hard with a specific plan can keep the total costs of counseling to a minimum. But please ask about the “Cash and Clergy Discount”–very steep discounts for clients paying at the time of service when they do not have insurance or when paid by wards, stakes or other congregations.
Remember, your first one-hour session is totally free. This gives you an opportunity to see if I am t he best person to help you reach your goals.
- Can I use my health insurance to pay for counseling?
I am able to work with several insurance companies to pay for counseling. Most insurance will pay only for services to help overcome depression, anxiety or other problems that directly affect health and well-being.
While some insurers will pay for family or marriage therapy, it is usually only when those services are aimed specifically at improving mental health. Most insurances do not cover services simply to improve relations or quality of life. Check with your insurance first before making an appointment.
In any case when working with insurance you will need to work closely with your insurance to make sure you qualify for reimbursement. Because of the costs of hiring a billing service I work directly with only a few insurance companies, including Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA). I am no longer a Medicaid provider, and cannot be paid by that company.
I do provide services for Blue Cross subscribers, but I would need to receive payment directly from you and your insurance will reimburse you at the same rate as preferred providers. Please check with your insurance regarding how much they will reimburse as well as your deductible amount before insurance will reimburse you for the services I provide.
In order to keep costs down and services high I ask you to pay at the time of service (unless special arrangements have been made), and I will provide documentation you can use to receive reimbursement from other insurances.
- How can I pay for counseling?
To keep costs of collection down I hope that you will pay for services when you receive them. That helps to avoid costs of billing and collections. I accept personal checks and credit cards, and that old-fashioned item: cash.
If you need to make payment plans we can discuss that in person, once we have a clear treatment plan in place.
- Are there any reasons NOT to use insurance to pay for counseling, where possible?
Yes. There are reasons to take caution when considering using health insurance to pay for counseling or psychotherapy. Insurance always requires some sort of documentation regarding your diagnosis (reasons for seeking treatment), symptoms, problem behaviors, and progress in treatment. Some companies require a great deal of detail about your behavioral patterns, etc. You would be wise to carefully consider which information you would like to have the insurance company receive and retain.
This may be particularly important for those holding, seeking or considering jobs that require security clearance and/or firearms use. Be aware that I have no control over confidential information once it has been released to an insurance company.
- Can others pay for my counseling?
Wards and other organizations often offer to pay for a portion of counseling services to help their members to receive the services that will help them to be healthier and more productive. Contact your leader if you wonder if this might be available to you. You will still be responsible for payment of any services not covered by your clergy, etc.