Unlike most counselors, I will give you lots of feedback during the first session. My goal is always to outgrow my job, and I want you to have a taste of what my feedback, guidance and encouragement feels like before you decide whether to come back. I often give my feedback on an auditory file sent to your phone or email. All this takes time, so I give a bit more than an hour to the first session. If you want a lot of feedback in the first session, we can schedule it for an hour and a half at an additional cost of $80.
For those who come back, the next few sessions continue to be as much diagnosis as therapy. I listen to you tell your story of how you and others have tried to solve your problems before I try to offer many new solutions. We build together a base of understanding from which we can plan your life. We collaborate to reexamine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the situations which are giving you problems.
Counseling helps you to learn more effective ways to cope with those situations, and with similar situations in the future. Together, you and I will identify the goals of therapy, and discuss how you can reach those goals. The terms for working together are spelled out in the “Permission to Treat” below, which you will be given to read in the waiting room, and to discuss with me privately as you wish before we go back to my office to begin working together.
Permission to Treat – Privacy
I understand that unless you can be assured I will protect the confidentiality of what you tell me, I could not expect you to share with me openly your thoughts, feelings and history. I will very much need you to disclose these honestly in order to help you reach your goals in counseling. The only times I will reveal to anyone what you have told me, even the fact that you have come see me, is when law requires me to:
- If you sign a release directing me to do so;
- If a judge or court order requires me to;
- If I suspect a child is being abused or neglected; or
- If you tell me you pose a serious threat for physically harming yourself or others.
General Office Practices
Your sessions are scheduled with me directly, for one hour unless we agree otherwise. Except for health or safety, cancellations need to be the day before to avoid the late cancel charge of $80, unless it’s for sickness or weather. Phone calls: There is no charge for most phone calls, but you will get more out of them if you have decided before calling what is bothering you, and what you want me to do about it for you. Generally calls for guidance and support will last 5 to 15 minutes, and anything that needs more time is billed at $25 per ten full minutes, or else addressed in the office. Emergencies: When I am not immediately available by phone, please leave a message on my cell phone, 502 633 2860. If your need is more urgent, and you can’t reach me soon enough on my cell phone, you will need to call your physician, or the Seven Counties crisis and information line, 502-589-4313.
Working with both Mr. and Mrs.
When a married person wants me to work also with his or her spouse, marriage, or family, the client bears full responsibility for making sure the goals for these different counseling arrangements are compatible, and that alternatives have been considered before the couple chooses by mutual agreement for me to play these different roles simultaneously (per “Seeing both Husband and Wife,” under the “How I Work” tab on my website).
I do not contact clients through social networking. For details, see Social Media.
Fees and Insurance
My fees are the same for individuals, couples or families, $160 per hour, paid at time of service, with sessions starting between 7:15 and 4:45. If you think you will want to file insurance, you will need to call your insurance company or managed care organization to get preauthorization for sessions. If you want useful information on how to discuss coverage and payment with your insurance company, see my website below, under the left tab for “Insurance” on the home page. I will provide statements to be filed by you as often as you wish, and if you want me to file for you, I’ll do that on a monthly basis. To learn why I am not in any network of discounted providers, see Managed Care
Research shows that psychotherapy can be very effective in solving personal problems. Nine out of ten Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports who had had counseling said that it had helped them in their lives. A review in the American Psychologist of over 75 studies concluded that psychotherapy is even more effective when clients know that they share major values and beliefs with their therapist. It is not my job to promote my values and beliefs with my clients, but rather to use theirs to help them solve their problems. But if you want to check and see how compatible your priorities and lifestyle are with mine, click on Values & Beliefs.
To help you avoid problems with a loved one over your counseling, you might find it helpful to follow my thinking below about What to Share about Your Counseling . And if more than one of you is considering coming to me for individual work at the same time, you would do well to read below, Seeing Both Husband and Wife.
What to Share about Your Counseling
When your loved one asks about how your session went, it is best to avoid two extremes—saying nothing and answering whatever questions are asked. I hope you will choose only by mutual agreement to change what I suggest below:
- How it went in general in just a few words: “a tough session”, “I got a lot out of it”, “I leaned a lot”, “I’m still learning to trust him with my feelings”, “mentally enlightening and yet emotionally heavy”, etc.
- Two or three specific things you got out of it as take-home value: “I realize that when we fight I am feeling down deep a lot of _____”, “I see more of my father’s faults/assets now”, “I have new ways to avoid/handle ________”, “I’m learning to understand, accept, and forgive the way you/I have been ________”, etc.
- Any behavior changes you will be trying to make.
- When your next session is scheduled.
If you are in doubt about whether/how to respond, it is always a good idea to say, “Let me think about that, and I’ll get back to you about it.” It is best for both parties to be able to avoid or at least minimize questions asked about the counseling. Beyond items 1 through 4 above, the other constructive questions that may be asked are general ones:
- Anything else you want to tell me?
- Anything else I need to know?
- Any advice for me from your counselor?
- Have you talked with your counselor enough about ______ that you and I could talk about it as two adults?
- If I wanted input to your counselor, how could I be heard without messing up the trust you have started to build with him? Have you two discussed having me join you for a session?
In general, it’s best to keep this sharing brief, positive, and with a minimum of questioning. A play-by-play account is not helpful, and it’s better to avoid specific questions such as, “Did you tell him about your _____?” or “What did he say about ________?” A better approach would be, “In light of your counseling, what do you think now about _______?”
As a general rule, information shared freely without being provoked by a question will feel better for you both.
Seeing Both Husband and Wife
Is it a good idea if Dr. Schmidt sees both of us?
It won’t happen unless:
- The goals of all counseling are consistent with each other, and with his values.
- All parties have considered the pros and cons below and given their permission:
- He knows the background already.
- He gets added perspective on each from the other’s point of view.
- He is perhaps more easily trusted than a stranger to work with the spouse.
- There’s no need to call another therapist to stay up with what’s going on.
- He is more knowledgeable and more easily trusted to be the marriage counselor.
- It’s easier for us to know in our guts that the other’s counselor is pro-marital.
- We will usually be tempted to use our own sessions more to set him up to change the other than to work on ourselves.
- We are more likely to undermine each other’s confidence in him by quoting him inaccurately as an authority or an endorser of their actions.
- Worst of all, if our goals or personalities become incompatible, they will inevitably sabotage or undermine each other’s therapies, and if we are seeing the same therapist, we will be in an ideal position to do so. Therefore,
- He may end up having to transfer two of the three clients out (husband, wife, marriage).
If and when he is asked to choose which client he will stay with, priority goes to (starting with the most important factor):
- The one who first came to see him individually
- The one whose agenda is more pro-marital
- The one who is working harder at change and personal growth
- The one who would have a harder time starting up with someone else