What should you know and how should you prepare for video counseling?
I use an encrypted and HIPAA compliant platform to ensure privacy. You can use a laptop or desktop computer, a tablet, or smartphone to connect with me. If you have connectivity issues, try shutting down and restarting your device and/or internet source.
My office is a secure and sound-proofed room in which I will not be disturbed, nor will our sessions be overheard by anyone. It is best that you find a private space with a steady internet connection.
If you share your space with others, it is best to ask them to not disturb you during our sessions. Many of my clients that live with others find it helpful to run a fan or white-noise machine ($20-$80 online) to drown sound from other people in the house. Some of my clients meet with me while sitting in their vehicles or outside, which is fine to do as long as you can ensure privacy and limit distractions.
Many of my clients find it helpful to take a few minutes before the session to reflect and “reset” from their daily activities to prepare for our session.
What do the letters after my name mean? (MS, NCC, CRC, LPC Intern)
MS (masters of science) means I have a 3-year masters degree in counseling from Portland State University where I met with clients at PSU’s low-cost Counseling Clinic, in addition to supervising peers as they meet with clients for the first time at the clinic. I also completed a 1-year internship at the META Counseling Clinic.
NCC (National Certified Counselor) means I passed a comprehensive exam to demonstrate competence to the National Board of Certified Counselors.
CRC (clinical rehabilitation counselor) means a significant amount of my course work at PSU was studying the history of disability rights, disability-related legislation, and models on how to help people with disabilities. The word “rehab” is often associated with substance use and addiction, however here it is used to indicate physical and psychiatric disabilities. Most clinical mental health programs do not include instruction on the unique needs of people with disabilities.
LPC Intern (licensed professional counselor intern) means I have finished grad school and am working toward full licensure as a licensed professional counselor. I have two supervisors who I meet with regularly to discuss my work and receive feedback. What this means for my clients is that I have substantial support to help me best help them.
What should you expect from therapy?
My goal is to help you work towards your goals. People are sometimes drawn to therapy for problems they are ashamed of, or feel guilty about, and so I offer a nonjudgmental space for us to talk about what is painful and pleasurable and work through fear and shame to empower you, increase your self- and social-awareness, and change your life toward your satisfaction.
The first couple of sessions are typically spent talking about obstacles that are keeping you from living your best life. It’s usually helpful for me to learn about your interests, how you spend your time, your lifestyle, relationships, and family of origin. After getting an overview of your life, the next phase is typically exploring your specific goals for therapy. Next, we can dive into exploring topics more in-depth.
Healing is not always a linear process. Sometimes things can start to feel a bit harder or more intense as we dive deeper into things. This is usually a sign that things are going in a good direction and many people start seeing improvements over time.
There are many different types of psychotherapy. I use methods from several different models, though I primarily use a body-centered mindfulness-based and experiential approach. This means I often invite my clients to pause and notice what his happening in their body as we talk through issues, as sometimes accessing language to describe emotions can be challenging. I have found that using mindfulness during sessions allows my clients to relax, focus, and feel something in the moment. It is not necessary to have experience in mindfulness meditation to reap the benefits of this kind of therapy. I believe that having an experience can often be more powerful than remembering and talking about the past.
What do we talk about in therapy?
Sessions are set aside as your time and we can talk about anything you want. I may at times suggest topics and ask clarifying questions. Here are some topics that often come up in counseling:
Your relationship(s) with romantic partner(s), friends, family of origin, coworkers, and others
Life transitions (new career, newly starting or ending a relationship, starting school, adjusting to disabilities, recently moved to Oregon, gender, sexuality, etc.)
Depression and anxiety
Feeling stuck, frozen, inadequate, or unmotivated
Growing up in a restrictive household (religious, political, etc.)
Race, gender, and sexuality
Grief, death, and dying
What is “neuroception”?
“Neuroception” is our subconscious neural system which constantly scans our environment to decide how to respond based on whether we feel safe. if we feel safe and how we respond to others. When bad things happen to us, our nervous system can become hyper-alert to cues of danger and we may struggle to feel safe, relaxed, and at ease, even around the people we love most. The good news is neuroception can be made conscious and fine-tuned with mindful awareness, curiosity, and openness. Therapy is a safe environment where you can mindfully explore your inner experience. Stephen Porges created the term “Neuroception” and you can read more about it here.
What are the differences between a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, life coach, and social worker?
There are strict guidelines about using these terms. Therapist/psychotherapist are generic terms for someone who helps people. Counselors are a type of therapist; we have masters degrees from nationally certified universities and report to the State (of Oregon, in my case). We get a broad education, do psychotherapy, and tend to specialize in areas of interest through ongoing trainings and supervision. There is a lot of overlap between counselors and social workers, who go through a similar masters degree process with more of a systems-perspective. Many social workers have private practices as therapists, others work for the state or private and/or nonprofit sector. Counselors and social workers are not able to prescribe medications in Oregon. We are mandated to report abuse of children or vulnerable adults to the state.
A psychologist has a PhD. Some psychologists do psychotherapy, though many do research, etc.
A psychiatrist has a medical degree. Many psychiatrists prescribe and manage medications. Most do not do psychotherapy, though some do.
Life coaches tend to focus on specific issues such as professional career goals and projects. Life coaches tend to focus on goals for the future. Life coaches have their own privately owned certification process that is distinct from counseling requirements of masters degree, clinical training, and post-graduation supervision.