As I have noted before, NC, the home of my youth is a weird place. It’s a place I love–the place I belong. But, it’s strange nonetheless. For instance, I have yet to understand the rabid, yet tender romance between NC, hipsters and craft beer. I’m a martini girl myself. And no, I don’t consider a beer that was probably made in someone’s backyard and named after a book that neither you nor I have read as a good substitute. I don’t care if it has notes of pumpkin, bread or (as an earnest, bespeckled young man told me with much gravitas last week) goat. But to be fair, I have always thought that beer tastes in general like goat. So kudos to him for cornering that market.

A fascinating aspect of my practice here is the tendency for new clients to send me questionnaires as a sort of job interview before getting together for the first time. I think this is, in short, fantastic. I have often railed about the responsibility therapists have for being clear about their own therapeutic orientations. Why shouldn’t our clients want to know with whom they’re dealing before moseying off into the clinical sunset with us? However, answering these lists is getting time-consuming–it’s a bit like writing a college term paper every few clients. So, I got to thinking, what if I wrote a blog about this? What if I just included the answer to most of the questions I get asked (minus the really weird ones) in one place? So, here is my attempt to do just that.

1) What is your education? I have both a Master’s and a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ve worked as a therapist for more than 10 years in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient and private practice.

2) What kind of therapy do you do? I am a client-centered therapist who practices from a solution-focused lens. That means that I will work hard to understand the history and context of your concerns while also helping you get traction on your goals quickly. I have been trained in a number of models including hypnosis, CBT, Narrative, Relational and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, and use techniques from each of these methodologies depending on the client’s needs.

3) What kind of work is the bulk of your practice? Roughly 70-80 percent of my practice is couples work or clients who are here alone to work on relationship issues. I also work with clients facing depression, anxiety, trauma and grief. I am a certified hypnotherapist and help clients cope with lots of different kinds of issues using that approach.

4) If I have hypnotherapy, will you make me quack like a duck? Though that might be fun for both of us, I won’t do that. As a matter of fact, I can’t really “make” you do anything. Hypnotherapy is nothing more than a different state of experiencing the world. It is collaborative, positive and only as depth-oriented as you would like it to be. Sometimes, it takes clients several sessions to develop the right level of trance for them. But, the more often we do hypnosis the easier it will be to access that state. I never do hypnosis the first session. It’s important to me to have a good working therapeutic relationship before we begin trance.

5) Do you work with children? No, I do not work with children. I do enjoy working with adolescents (14 and older) and have many years of experience doing so. If you are bringing your underage child, we will do family therapy as an adjunct to individual sessions with your child.

6) Do you do substance abuse counseling? No, not in a strict sense. The short answer to why I don’t do substance abuse counseling is because I don’t enjoy it. There are many dedicated therapists who do excellent work with drug and alcohol abuse, and I am happy to refer to them. Over the years, I have found that my clinical interests are in other areas. I do work with family members and partners of folks who abuse substances. That hearkens back to my degree in family systems and is something that I like greatly.

7) Can we do sessions by Phone/Skype/Email? Yes, I will be happy to do sessions via these formats. However, in most circumstances I require that the first session be here in my office so that you can sign paperwork and I can appropriately evaluate your needs.

8) Will you tell my spouse I am cheating on him/her: No, I won’t. The things you say in session alone with me are confidential, unless I must legally disclose them. (For instance, to keep you or someone else safe.) However, I will not work long-term with couples in which one partner is actively cheating when there is no intention to share the infidelity. I will be happy to hold that secret with you while we sort out how you feel, what is happening, and how you want to proceed. But, I don’t find it helpful to continue therapy for a lengthy duration while one partner is covertly continuing to be unfaithful.

9) Do you have experience working with clients from cultures other than your own? Yes, I have been blessed with clients from around the world. I do my best to explore how your background impacts your functioning, and with that understanding, to design effective, culturally sensitive interventions.

10) Are you comfortable working with the LGBT community? Yes, I am. I have worked with LGBT clients from the very start of my clinical experience.

11) Do you prescribe medicine? No, you must go to a licensed medical doctor, physicians assistant or nurse practitioner to get medication. However, if that is something we deem necessary, or something you are curious about, I will be happy to refer you to someone I trust.

12) Why do you offer a free consultation? I offer a free consultation so that both you and I can be sure that I am the right therapist to meet your needs. If I discover that your presenting concerns are outside the scope of my practice (for instance, you hope to address your ongoing substance abuse) I want to be able to refer you out to someone who will better suit your challenges without you having incurred a fee to discover that we aren’t a match.

13) Are you Married? Yes, I have been happily married for 10 years and have two quirky, awesome little boys.

14) How do therapists maintain empathy? I think this is different for each clinician. The easiest way for me to maintain empathy is to understand in exquisite nuance the details of my clients’ concerns. When you have a clear snapshot of how clients’ troubles have developed, how they have wrestled with them and the goals they have, it’s difficult not to feel empathetic. Also, I only book myself as many clients as I can see without feeling tired or burned out. That means that I often have a bit of a wait list. However, I think it is vital for therapists to have good, clear boundaries around their personal time. That way, we can re-enter the room with our clients feeling fresh and helpful.

15) Do you have experience working with grief? Yes. As a matter of fact, my dissertation was on grief responses in bereaved pet owners. In my Orlando practice, I led a free pet loss support group.

16) Do you offer group therapy? Yes, I am hoping to start a Woman’s Therapy Group. If you would like more information about this group or have suggestions for other groups let me know.

17) Do you take insurance? No, I do not take insurance. I will, however, be happy to prepare any paperwork your insurance company requires for you to be reimbursed.

18) Will you be my friend on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc.? No, I won’t–and it’s not because I don’t like you, respect you or genuinely enjoy your company. I think both therapists and clients have a right to their personal spaces, and that it’s sort of ethically shady for clinicians to involve their clients in their private lives in that manner. Besides, do you really want to see those pictures of me in Vegas anyway? However, I have set up social networking profiles for Lotus Therapy Center and I would love to connect with you there. I particularly adore my Pinterest!

19) Will you come to my location? Yes, I have a limited number of concierge appointments available. Contact me for pricing and further details.

20) Would you choose to be a therapist again? Yes, I can’t imagine doing anything else!

Do you have any other questions I haven’t answered here? Why don’t you give me a call so that we can talk about it?

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at [email protected] Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

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