Why don’t you take insurance?

Great question. Long answer. There are several reasons why a therapist may choose to not sit on insurance panels. First and foremost, as a provider and a patient, I believe insurance companies are difficult to work with and they are rarely in alignment with proper clinical care. They can dictate to providers how long therapy can last and what kinds of interventions are appropriate for clients. There is inherently a lack of privacy, because I would need to send a mental health diagnosis to your insurance company, and they could have access to you records if I was audited. In fact, I would have to give you a mental health diagnosis period, which is not always appropriate or necessary when seeing a therapist.

Do I really need therapy?

I don’t know! I mean, I really don’t, because I haven’t met you yet. But most people can benefit from having a therapist, rather than just seeing a friend or talking to a parent or mentor, because therapists are trained to help people through very difficult situations. We are also trained to be unbiased and objective, and we are trained to be attentive to the impact that your past can have on your life, such as being trauma-informed, attachment-based, or a combination. And because we are looking at things from the “outside,” rather than being an active participant, you can feel confident in divulging things to us that you might otherwise feel compelled to keep a secret because of how it might impact your relationships.

So Is therapy confidential?

Yes. Usually. Therapy is inherently confidential, but there are some exceptions. Namely, if I have any safety concerns about you or others, I need to tell the proper people. So if you share that you are thinking about hurting yourself or hurting someone else (so suicidal or homicidal plans), or if you report that a child or vulnerable adult is being hurt, I need to report that. But otherwise, yes, everything is kept confidential.

Couples who come to family therapy will have their notes in the same file. That file will be accessible by either party, as it is a shared file. For this reason, I do not keep secrets as a policy but help each partner disclose what needs to be shared to the other partner. Exceptions can be made in cases of interpersonal violence or substance abuse where there is a safety concern between the couple.

What about if I’m bringing my kid to therapy?

Trust is a vital component of the therapeutic process. If your kid thinks I’m going to report back or “tattle-tail” then it’s not likely they are going to tell me anything, and then I won’t be very effective. For the most part, I keep things confidential in the same way I do with my adult clients. I am more likely to provide feedback or impressions about how they’re doing. And I explain this to my teen clients too. Sometimes there are things that I think parents should know, and I have a conversation about how we might tell them. And sometimes there are things that parents need to know. While I don’t wait for permission, I always tell my teen clients when I’m going to share something.

The expectation of confidentiality is a bit less when working with younger children, and often because parents are involved more directly in the therapy.

What is therapy like?

Therapy is not just talking. Therapy is getting to the heart of what’s going on in your life, how it’s affecting you, where it came from, and most importantly, what you can do about it. We discuss your goals for therapy, and where you’re getting stuck in making those changes. To do that, we look at where you’re coming from. We don’t just dwell on the past, but we do spend time understanding what or how things happened in past, and how that has formed who you are, your beliefs and your choices. Together, we work to get you unstuck and moving toward a healthier you, either physically, mentally or both!

how long will i be in therapy?

I always tell my clients that my goal is for them to not be in therapy for the rest of their life. Of course, you’re more than welcome to stay as long as you feel it’s helping you work on your goals. But my goal is to help you get to a point where you don’t need me anymore. How long will that take? That depends very much on the individual.

I don’t live in the twin cities / Minnesota. can I still work with you?

For folks who live outside of the Twin Cities, but reside in Minnesota, I offer tele counseling using a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform. It’s like Skype, except it’s HIPAA-compliant so we can keep your privacy protected. It’s not the same as being in the room with me, but it’s better than not getting therapy at all. If you’re interested, we can discuss the details and make sure you’re a good fit for it, as it’s not appropriate for those who are in mental health crisis or high conflict.

What’s the difference between counseling and coaching?

Counseling and coaching have a lot of similarities but there are some important distinctions. In my work, the difference primarily comes into play when looking at the mental wellness of the person. I often use the analogy of a physical therapist and an athletic coach for an athlete. If an athlete is injured, struggling, and having a hard time functioning at a normal baseline, then physical therapy is what we would recommend, right? But if the athlete is doing okay, and is looking to improve their skills in a certain area, then coaching would be appropriate.

Counseling and coaching also draw some distinctions in what the focus of the work actually is. Counseling, for the most part, incorporates a significant amount of historical work, while coaching is primarily focused on making changes. Not that counseling isn’t about making change, and not that coaching doesn’t look at historical patterns of behavior, but the time spent in understanding the past is different between the two. Another difference is work on emotional work. Counseling, for the most part, spends a significant amount of time looking at your feelings around your past, whether that’s helping you process your feelings, or understand why you feel the way you do. Coaching may incorporate an understanding about your emotions, but to a less degree.

The mental wellness of an individual plays a large role in whether counseling or coaching is going to be a good fit. In my free consultation call, I do an assessment to make sure that your goals for coaching are appropriate for that level of care, or if what you’re looking for is a better fit for a therapist. If you live outside of Minnesota and are in need of counseling, I will need to refer you to a therapist in your state.

how do i know you’re the right therapist / coach for me?

A free consultation call that I offer is a great place to start! In those calls, you tell me a little about you, and I tell you a little about me. We see if what you’re looking for is something I can provide. You will also get a sense of my personality and how I talk and how I am with people. If you feel like we gel, then you can make an appointment for an intake. If it turns out that I’m not the right fit for you after all, then I am more than happy to help provide referrals to another therapist. I’m committed to getting you the help you need — whether or not that’s with me.

What does that funny looking algebra symbol in your logo mean?

It stands for “I am greater than my highs and lows.” And so are you.

Still on the fence? Ready to get to work? Either way, I would love to hear from you! Call me at 651-412-4993 or email allison@greaterthancc.com.