Frequently Asked Questions
What is your background and experience?
What is your treatment philosophy?
I believe it is important to integrate research backed treatment with an overall approach that views the client in their context. By viewing concerns and goals this way, we can understand how family, friends, school, work, hobbies, faith, and other important elements fit into the person’s life. Understanding a person’s context may reveal sources of stress, but also strengths and resources that can be harnessed to improve quality of life.
Finally, I firmly believe that treatment must be applied within a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Humor, candor, and transparency are key. You should feel welcome to ask questions and give feedback when you have concerns about an approach, so that we as a team can steer the best course for your personal circumstances.
What is your background and experience?
I am licensed psychologist with a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. I also hold undergraduate degrees from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Psychology and International Studies.
I have more than 15 years of experience in the fields of mental health and education. Throughout my graduate education and professional career, I have worked in community mental health settings, provided tutoring and academic mentoring to students with issues that impact learning, and provided psychological services to children and families in private practice. For more information, please visit the About page of this site.
What ages do you treat?
It depends on the focus of treatment. The broad answer is that I work with children as young as second grade in individual or family therapy, running through adolescence and through the transitions facing young adults. I also work with adults, for certain referral questions.
On the young end of the spectrum (2nd and 3rd grade), I typically work in tandem with parents to help address issues of behavioral or emotional health, improving social skills, parenting spirited children, improving compliance, and coping with stress. These same issues may be addressed through individual or family treatment in late elementary-aged children through the “tween” stage (4th through 7th grade). I typically work individually with teens, with input from parents, except when the primary issue involves trouble with parent-teen communication or relationships. Family therapy may be recommended for the latter.
Young adults (18-25) face issues such as becoming independent, setting the next level of goals for themselves, learning to cope with new freedoms and responsibilities, new relationships, and becoming successful in work or post-high school educational settings. Launching into independence can be exhilarating, but it can also be confusing, disorienting, and anxiety-provoking. Often a period of one-on-one therapy can help provide young adults with a safe sounding-board and guidance.
I also have experience working with adults. Typically I work with adults around issues of adjustment or periods of turmoil, such as coping with separation and divorce, changing jobs, or dealing with a major loss.
If you are unsure whether I am a good fit for your situation, I am happy to provide a free initial screening call. 919.749.4210
Do you work with my particular concern, issue, or diagnosis?
I treat a broad range of concerns, including but not limited to: behavior and attention disorders, anxiety, depression, parenting difficulties, and other family-related problems. In addition, I am experienced in working with children with learning differences, social skills deficits and children on the autism spectrum (sometimes referred to as Asperger’s disorder). Please refer to the Services page for more details.
What is the process of starting therapy?
Individual and family therapy begins with an initial intake during which parents or adult clients describe their concerns and background information is gathered. This is an interactive process wherein we develop a clearer picture of your needs and discuss your personal goals. The intake is also a good time for you to ask questions of me and determine if I am a good fit for you.
If the therapy centers on a child or teen, the next two to three sessions will be spent with them to establish rapport, gather further information, assess problem areas, and look for strengths. This step and the next may vary depending on the age of the client and the nature of the concerns. Initial interventions and suggestions for at-home modifications may begin during this phase. Before continuing therapy, a session may be scheduled with parents to discuss clinical impressions, to refine and clarify goals, and to address any lingering questions you may have.
What is family therapy, and when is it appropriate?
Family therapy involves members of an identified client’s family in treatment. The focus of treatment is not only on aiding the client in making behavioral or emotional change, but addressing the process of communication, boundaries, roles, and how those shift and change over time. It may involve assisting parents in developing new approaches to limit setting, establishing fluid rules and routines, or working towards building happy, productive, and responsible children.
Family therapy is also helpful when sibling issues occur. Sometimes family therapy is a good way to address the adjustment issues that some children have to divorce. Finally, some children and teens struggle to find their way in blended, remarried families, and family sessions are one way to address this. The list here is not comprehensive.
If family therapy is something you are interested in specifically, please let me know upon making the initial call, and we can discuss whether it is appropriate for your situation.
What is group therapy?
Group therapy is a powerful mode of therapy that has broad applications. I use it as a means to address issues of socialization, the development of social skills, building of confidence, and a general feeling of connection to peers.
An effective group can be the means to deliver education on skills, such as social strategies, effective emotional self-control, and friendship-making methods. It provides an immediate and safe place to practice those skills. I, along with group members, give feedback with an emphasis on mutual support and respect. Each group has its own personality, but we strive to make it fun for all involved.
Groups are constructed with age- and gender-matching in mind. Groups are capped in number so that members are not overlooked. Not all groups are all-boy or all-girl, but many are. Please call to determine if I have a group available that meets the needs of your child or teen.
Please contact me to determine if I have a group available that meets the needs of your child or teen. Contact me: 919.749.4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you work with or talk to other professionals regarding my case?
I take a collaborative approach if that is warranted, though that varies by case and parental preference. It is routine to at least indicate to the primary care physician that treatment has started, and to provide them updates if the situation has changed significantly, or if treatment has ended. In cases where medication is involved, communicating with the prescribing pediatrician or psychiatrist may be important. In some cases parents may wish for me to consult with other professionals or with a child’s school. Please note that except for situations where disclosures are mandated by law, communication is done only with the permission of a parent, and all HIPAA regulations apply.
Do you take my insurance?
I am out of network for all insurance plans. Most people are able to recover out-of-network benefits. Others use flexible spending or medical savings accounts provided by their employers to offset costs. I provide the information required by insurance companies on each invoice, statement, or account summary that I issue.
Being out-of-network allows us to design and provide the most effective treatment plan for your situation. Insurance companies often artificially curtail the length of treatment in terms of number of sessions they will cover, how often a patient can be seen, or what procedures or diagnoses they will cover. I would rather we work to design an effective plan of treatment that is not constrained artificially.
However, I understand that cost, reaching goals in an efficient and timely manner, and changing family situations (such as losing a job) are very important, so clients should feel free to discuss cost-related concerns.
Do you do testing / school assessment?
I currently am not taking testing or assessment referrals. I have a background in psychological and psychoeducational testing. Therefore, if you have had testing done through the schools or another provider, we can integrate the findings into our treatment plan.
Do you work with divorce?
Absolutely. Divorce is a reality that many families face. Many children come through the process happy and healthy. However, some need more support. It can be difficult to predict how a child will react, or to know how they are handling the process, but generally parents have some indication: changing behavior, dips in school performance, withdrawal, change in eating or sleeping patterns, and so on.
I work with parents who are considering divorce, have not told their children yet, and who want to minimize the negative impact on their children. I work with individual children or siblings who are having a difficult time with the mix of confusing feelings, changing routines, and increased expectations as they adjust to living in two households. Some parents find it helpful to consult with me regarding how to set up co-parenting strategies for during and after separation. In the case of remarriage, therapy can help children adjust to and become happy in a new, blended family.
What about custody disputes?
I am not a custody evaluator, and I do not speak as an expert witness in custody disputes. If you are concerned about the emotional state of the child in the context of a legally disputed divorce, I recommend hiring a custody evaluator. An evaluator's role is to be neutral and objective and to review the status of the child in the context of the whole family and situation. They can then render more objective forensic opinions to the court without risking damage to a therapeutic relationship. I can provide a referral to custody evaluators in our area.
In cases where parental conflict cannot be resolved through mediation or legal action, please consult your attorney regarding a Parent Coordinator. A Parent Coordinator can be appointed by the court if both parties agree one is needed. They work within the custody order to help resolve parenting disputes, hopefully reducing the cost of continually going back to court. I can provide names of experienced, reputable PCs if you need them.