Q: What are your qualifications?
A: I am licensed as a marriage and family therapist in the state of Utah through the Division of Occupational and Public Licensing. Since 2008 I’ve been working with individuals, couples, and families as a practicing therapist. I also have six years’ experience working with at-risk teenagers in various capacities. I’m a clinical fellows member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) as well as a member of the Utah Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (UAMFT). I hold a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University and a bachelor’s in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University.
Q: Do you see clients outside of Saint George?
A: I do! For those who don’t live in my area, I’m available for video conferencing and phone sessions. Please visit my Forms page to download the consent form.
Q: How much do you charge per session?
A: I charge $120 for in-person sessions and $110 for online webcam sessions..
Q: Do you take insurance?
A: I do not, and you may actually decide that that’s a very good thing. For starters, some insurance companies would require you to be diagnosed with a mental disorder in order to justify their coverage. I would prefer to avoid diagnosing you with a mental disorder because it often goes on your health records and may increase your insurance premiums. Some insurance companies also require me to write reports, which means they would know about what happens in our sessions. What’s more, since I could use the time spent writing those reports to see other clients, I would have to bill for time spent on insurance paperwork, which increases the cost of therapy. That, in a nutshell, is why I usually don’t deal with insurance.
Q: Are you a “religious therapist?”
A: My approaches and techniques are research-based and applicable to everyone. I am a religious person, but I make every effort to not impose my beliefs on my clients. My faith influences my therapy in the sense that I promote universal values such as honesty, integrity, kindness, and fidelity. It also guides me to avoid being judgmental and to respect the beliefs of others. Among my dearest friends I count atheists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, a Jewish man, and a Hindu family. My life has been enriched by knowing them all and my worldview expanded by their respective points of view. That said, if clients want to bring prayer into the session and/or discuss how their beliefs influence their life, I’m more than happy to do so with them. I let them make that decision. I make no attempts to change anyone’s theological beliefs.
Q: How long does therapy usually take? Aren’t you really trying to stretch it out to bleed us dry?
A: Although different cases take different amounts of time, I have no interest in keeping people longer than they need to be seen. What’s more, you decide how long therapy lasts and when you’ve gotten what you came for, not me (though I may offer my opinion). I prefer short-to-medium-term therapy which is, generally, weekly sessions for a few months (though again, it varies from client to client).
Q: You’re bound by confidentiality, right?
A: I am, and what is discussed in session remains absolutely private unless there is an imminent threat to self or others, or if abuse of children or the elderly is reported, in which case the code of ethics demands that safety trump confidentiality. In rare cases therapy records may also be demanded by court-order.
Q: Will you judge me for what I say or what I’ve done?
A: While I can’t claim perfection, I strive to avoid making judgments as I have never found them to be helpful in therapy or in life. I believe that people’s behavior makes sense to them, so if yours seems irrational or “wrong” to me, then I need to work harder to understand your perspective. That said, I do believe firmly in balancing understanding and compassion with personal accountability, especially when one’s actions have contributed to the pain of others. I have also found it necessary to evaluate whether one’s behavior is having the desired outcome and to examine alternatives. In other words, I try to ask: “Is this getting you what you really want? If not, what else can we try?” instead of vainly passing judgement (e.g. “You’re wrong and here’s why!”)
Q: How good is your Spanish?
A: Very good. I lived in Chile for 22 months and earned a minor in Spanish. Since then I’ve kept my skills current through daily study of the language and by using it regularly with my Spanish-speaking clients.
Q: What therapy styles do you use?
A: I am trained and experienced in the use of emotionally-focused therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, solutions-focused therapy, family systems theory, dialectical behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing. I also use techniques from the renowned Gottman Institute and draw from the writings of many other marriage, family, and mental health specialists. If you have any questions about these techniques and styles, I’d be very happy to answer them.
Q: Do you provide divorce mediation?
A: Not off the bat. My bias initially is always to try to save the marriage. However, when it becomes clear (to the spouses, who really make the decision) that the marriage is going to end, I can help to make that transition as amicable as possible and to minimize negative effects on children.
Q: What if you and I aren’t a good fit? Will you help me to find a different therapist?
A: Finding the right therapist is a vital step in receiving quality counseling. I recognize that some problems are outside of my expertise and that some people just “click” better together than others. I want you to get the best treatment available for your needs. If for any reason you feel therapy would be more effective with someone else, I’m happy to refer you. I know many skilled clinicians in the area and we refer to each other freely.