Frequently Asked Questions:
Isn’t counseling just for people who can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps and move on?
Counseling can intersect with people’s lives in many places. For some people it serves to assist them with small course corrections that help them get unstuck. For others it involves the recovery from severe trauma, recent or historical. Sometimes we have hangups that we want to work through, and other times there are life dominating issues that you desperately want to (or need) to change. Counseling is not for the weak; it is for the people who are strong enough to know they need some help moving on to a better place in their lives.
How do I know if I will feel comfortable with you and your approach to counseling?
Prior to starting counseling, I highly encourage people to ask questions of the counselor to see if the person is a good match. I offer a free, no obligation 15-20 minute phone consultations prior to our first session. This time can be used for you to ask me questions, get a sense of my approach and see if I am a good fit for you.
Do you take insurance?
Click here https://pioneercounselingmontana.com/faqs/insurance-information/ for more information about insurance (this can also be found under the About tab on the front page).
Are you a Christian Counselor?
I am a counselor and I am a Christian. As a 6 year old, I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and have been involved with the church for nearly 40 years. For those who want more details on my specific beliefs, the following link (here) will be helpful. I agree with the Confessional Statement issued by the Gospel Coalition (which is where the above link will take you).
I believe that a person is both a physical and spiritual being. It follows that healing, growth and hope will happen most effectively when both aspects of a person are engaged in the process of change. But there are many reasons why you may not be comfortable with dealing with the spiritual side of your personhood in counseling. And that is ok. Seriously.
When you come to see me, we will discuss what ways, if any, your spiritual life has a role in the counseling. For some people it will be part of every session and for others it may come up much later in the process, or not at all. I have worked with clients across many faiths and worldviews with respect.
I pray for my clients (you) as part of my own personal daily routine.
The use of the Bible and prayer in counseling is something that can be an important component for some clients. For other clients, these are not of interest and need not be part of the counseling sessions. If it is important to you, I may bring up a place in the Bible that might be helpful or might merited deeper reflection. We may find a key moment in a session where prayer is the right next step. Most times you will be encouraged to find and cultivate relationships in your family, church or community with whom you can spend time in prayer.
If I’m not a Christian, are you going to pressure me about faith issues?
No. I am a client-centered counselor and have no desire to pressure anyone into anything. I have spent the past six years working in the public health sector and have worked effectively with men and women across all walks of life, faith, and worldviews. Please feel free to bring up any concerns you have about this and I will be more than happy to talk it through with you.
Once I start going to counseling, am I going to have to see a counselor for the rest of my life?
Nope. I believe that in many cases people need short (6-8 session) interventions in their lives for the issues that they are facing at that immediate moment. In some cases (with addictions, significant trauma issues or marriage restorations) it may take several months or years worth of work. The goal is not to cure you. One of the primary purposes of counseling is to help get you unstuck, to get you moving in a direction that is more healthy, productive and life-giving than when you came to counseling. Learning new skills, talking through painful things, gaining new perspective…these things do take time, hard work and persistence. Our job together is to not erase the past but to provide ways of living in the present to give you access to a vibrant future.
One of my goals is to get you to the place where you feel comfortable maintaining the growth you’ve made and to figure out how to continue on a positive and healthy path. In 99.5% of the cases that does not involve years and years of weekly sessions with a counselor.
What are your policies on confidentiality?
I make every effort to protect your confidentiality from the moment you contact me and beyond the end of our sessions. I adhere to the current HIPAA guidelines.
Do you have a sliding scale?
No. I do not offer a sliding scale. We have made every effort to make the fees reasonable and comparable to similar services offered in the community. I have set one fee schedule for all clients and present that same fee schedule to the insurance companies. We are able to discuss payment options and ways to plan sessions in such a way that takes your budget into consideration.
In the future there may be one or two pro bono spots open in the schedule. (There are NONE at this time.) Priority will be given to single parents and military veterans when those slots become available (more details to follow about this option).
Do you do premarital counseling? Marriage counseling?
YES! I am a big advocate of premarital counseling. In graduate school I became a Prepare/Enrich facilitator so that I could assist couples before and during their marriages.
So much research and inspection goes into the purchase of a home and a car, but in many cases we don’t think at all about doing some research into the relationship that is leading to marriage. There are wonderful tools resources and inventories that can help couples establish a solid foundation for marriage.
Discussing family history, finances, hopes for children, faith, sex and other forms of intimacy are vital to a healthy and long marriage.
Marriage is a wonderful and difficult commitment. It is also a life long learning process and sometimes people find themselves at odds with the person they fell in love with years ago. All kinds of factors can lead to a place of growing distance and tensions in a relationship. Counseling provides a place to have some one coach the two of you back in the direction you want to be going. There are skills that can be learned and practiced; there are ways to see things from the partner’s perspective; there are ways to heal from past hurts.
A healthy marriage is a gift to yourselves, your children and your community. I would love to help you explore how to find the hope and strength in your marriage that you have been missing.
You said that you were a Prepare/Enrich facilitator. What does that mean?
Prepare/Enrich is a research based inventory that has been helping couples think through areas of strength, growth and compatibility for 35 years. This inventory is for dating, engaged and married couples in all seasons of life. It provides vasts amount of data to talk through about everything from merging finances to how you resolve conflict and everything in between. I’d encourage you to check out the Prepare/Enrich web site for more information (here).
Do you work with children?
Currently the youngest age of client I am able to see is 13 years old. I am not a trained child therapist and am unable to work with them one on one at this time.
Do you do family counseling?
Yes! I do and I relish the opportunity to sit down with all the members of a family and work through the ways that things aren’t working. Expectations, pain and on-going frustrations can make being together as a family something to be avoided.
But this need not be the way things continue. I strive to help family members learn new ways to relate with each other
By sitting down and providing a voice for each family member, developing family structures, learning how to celebrate the victories and comfort the defeats… it is possible to change the way you think about and live out being a family together.
Families can be the most powerful place to build confidence, creativity and courage.
Do you help people walk through times of grief?
Yes. There are few times that can feel as dark and lonely as the days, weeks, months and even years after a significant loss. Grieving well allows a person in pain to begin the process of learning to live without their loved one. You have the opportunity to learn how to incorporate the loss (or losses) and to move into a life that does not deny what has been lost but to let the way loss changes us to be part of who we are and will be. Losses can be deaths, injuries, disappointments or even changes that leave us missing and grieving things the way they were before.
It is possible to walk through these times and emerge with hope, purpose and motivation for the life you have ahead of you.
Any good books you recommend?
YES! probably too many to list here (just ask my wife about my book addiction).
But here are a few that may be helpful:
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work John Gottman
The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller
Boundaries Henry Cloud and John Townsend
For Men Only/ For Women Only Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
The Bible (pick a version that helps you read and keep on reading)
How People Change David Powlison, Paul David Tripp, Tim Lane
Simply Christian NT Wright
Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas
Shepherding a Child’s Heart Tedd Tripp
Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing for Your Heart Alan Wolfelt
Surviving the Secret: Healing the Hurts of Sexual Abuse Kathy Rodriguez and Pam Vredevelt
Tear Soup Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
Works of Love Soren Kierkegaard
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl
Sabbath Poems Wendell Berry