FAQs and Welcome!

Counseling | Coaching | Cultivating | Creating

Hello!  You are so brave to take this step in seeking out counseling and support for what you are experiencing.  I admire your courage, Welcome! 

 

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Finding a therapist who is the right fit for you is vital to your therapeutic journey.  You deserve to feel comfortable and confident that you have chosen someone who resonates with your needs, your style, and your process.

I encourage everyone I consult with to interview several therapists, talk for a few minutes about what you are seeking, and get a feel for if their style is right for you.  To assist you in the process, I’ve assembled some FAQs about therapy and also some suggested questions you may want to use to interview/screen the therapists you speak with.  I’ve provided my answers under each question to make it easier to know more about me and A Space to Thrive.

Information to find out & Questions you may want to ask a Therapist before beginning work with them:

  • Logistics of appointment length, session fee, therapist availability, frequency (weekly, 2x weekly, every other week), what forms of payment are accepted, where the office is located, accessibility needs.
    • Our Initial appointments are 90 minutes long, and standard sessions are 50 minutes long.  
    • For optimal experience in therapy, I recommend clients attend therapy weekly at least for the first 6-8 sessions.  
    • The more spread out sessions are, the longer the therapy process takes; it is not recommended for intensive trauma recovery care to meet less frequently than weekly.  If this is a challenge, let’s have a conversation about how we can make regular, consistent, sessions a sustainable reality.  
    • A Space to Thrive is a direct pay private practice and we accept cash, credit, debit, and health savings account debit card payments. Other fee and scheduling details can be found here.
  • “How do I make an appointment?”
    • Sometimes talking to a person–especially a new therapist–can raise anxiety levels (I would so much rather order take-out via online ordering than pick up the phone to talk to someone 🙂 )!  Some people have schedules that make it difficult to call during business/office hours.  With all that in mind, we have several ways to make an appointment at A Space to Thrive.  For new clients, you can book an appointment online here.  For existing clients, you can log onto your Client Portal account and schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments online.  People may call my office number: 210-387-1403 or send me an email: jennifer@aspacetothrive.com. 
    • Once you’ve made an appointment, I will input your email and phone number into my records and send you an invitation to create a profile on the Client Portal.  There you can add all your information, e-sign consent forms, and complete the intake questionnaire online before your first visit.  This gives me a chance to read your answers and prepare for our first appointment. 
  • “What are your credentials?”
    • This is an absolutely essential question you have every right to ask any therapist/counselor you interview.  If they don’t offer their credentials, ask!  It is unethical and illegal for a person who is not a licensed professional in the state you reside to provide psychotherapy and counseling services.   This is for your protection.  With a license comes accountability, a legal and ethical code we are required to follow, and requirements for continuing education and professional development.
    • I (Jennifer) have a Master of Science in Marital and Family Therapy from Fuller School of Psychology in Pasadena, California.  I am licensed in the states of California and Texas and am in good standing with my licensing boards.  I am a Clinical Fellow member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) and the San Antonio Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (SAAMFT).
    • If you’re unsure about the credentials of a person you are consulting with or considering hiring as a therapist or counselor, you can always verify their license status with their state board.  In Texas you can visit here; in California you can visit here.
    • From the Texas MFT Board of Licensing: Marriage and Family Therapists
      • A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is a mental health professional who provides professional therapeutic services to individuals and groups that involve the application of family systems theories and techniques. Services may include marriage therapy, sex therapy, family therapy, child therapy, play therapy, individual psychotherapy, divorce therapy, mediation, group therapy, chemical dependency therapy, rehabilitation therapy, diagnostic assessment, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and related services.
      • A licensed marriage and family therapist holds at least a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or its equivalent, and also must complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience in the field of marriage and family therapy services.
      • For more information about marriage and family therapists, visit the website of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists at www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft or call (512) 834-6657.
  • “Do you offer eTherapy, Telehealth, or Virtual sessions?”  
    • Telehealth, eTherapy, and Virtual sessions refer to therapy sessions that occur between a therapist in office and a client in their home or other private location over the phone or video call service.
    • This allows for increased access to mental health in rural areas; access to a specialist who may not be located geographically close; greater continuity of care so clients can continue to attend sessions for a number of reasons…if home-bound, without transportation, or even stuck in traffic!
    • Not all virtual platforms are created equal…and not all of them are HIPAA compliant and confidential
    • Skype is NOT a HIPAA compliant or confidential platform, nor is FaceTime, or most other standard video calling apps.
    • Yes!  I offer virtual sessions to all my therapy clients in the state of Texas (due to state licensing laws, I am unable to see clients who reside outside of Texas).  I use VSee, a confidential telemedicine platform used by NASA, DaVita Dialysis, Walgreens Pharmacy, and many more professional health industries.  You can learn more about VSee’s HIPAA compliance here.
      • Clients who are interested in using this platform with me will get an email invitation to join my contacts
      • VSee is free to download on Apple and PC/Android devices: laptop, tablet, and mobile phones
  • “I ready for my first session.  Once I get there, then what?”
    • For all in-office sessions, A Space to Thrive is located in Suite 240 of Independence Plaza II at 14350 Northbrook Drive, San Antonio, TX 78232.  When you enter the building you can either take the stairs or the elevator to the second floor.  Follow down the longer hall (on the right side when you enter the building) to Suite 240.   Come on in! 
    • There is a waiting room and front desk staff who will direct you.  Since we have an appointment, I will be expecting you and will come out and greet you.  I’ll welcome you back to my office and offer you coffee, tea, water, cocoa, and a seat on the couch.
    • For our safety and security, the building automatically locks at 6pm during the weekdays and on Saturdays.  If your appointment is after 6pm or on a Saturday, I will come let you in; you’re always welcome to text me at: 210-382-4155 to let me know you are here.  
  • If you have an emotional support or service animal who would be helpful to you in session, ask the therapist about bringing them with you.
    • Emotional support and Service animals are welcome at A Space to Thrive.  Please just let me know ahead of time that you will be bringing them along.
  • If there are certain sensory accommodations that help facilitate your sense of peace, calm, safety, and focus, you have a right to ask for what you need–temp of room, bright or dim lights, sounds, textures, scents–all of these things contribute to your therapy process and if something is uncomfortable ask your therapist if there is a way to make a change.
    • I can easily alter the temperature of the office with fan, AC, or heat.  I also have blankets available for clients to use–feel free to kick off your shoes and curl up on the couch.  I generally don’t use the overhead flourescent office lights and just allow natural window light and soft living room lamps to light the office.  I try to stay away from using scented perfumes or air fresheners.  I do have a selection of essential oils that some clients request or need for calming or soothing when activated to a triggered response.  There is an ambient noise-maker outside the office to help with muffling sounds and I sometimes have instrumental “spa music” playing–but if it is distracting or problematic, I can always turn it off–just ask!
  • If you are aware of trauma in your past or present, it is important to ask if the therapist is trained in trauma-informed therapy approaches.  You can ask if they’ve worked with people who have experienced what you have.  You can ask for their philosophy, style, or method of addressing trauma recovery.  Therapy is definitely not a one-size-fits-all process.
    • I have been providing intersectional, complex trauma-informed therapeutic care to clients ranging from pre-teen through elder years since 2007.  I work with individuals moving through single-event trauma and PTSD as well as people recovering from complex and developmental trauma (continual trauma environment that persists over time and from where there is no perceivable escape). 
    • I integrate evidence-based psychotherapy practices such as EMDR, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness, along with expressive arts and talk therapy to guide clients in utilizing their own brain and body systems to heal itself and move toward thriving. 
    • I incorporate the wisdom of intersectionality in my approach recognizing that we are a vibrant mix of all the parts of our identity and I explore with clients how trauma impacts and interacts with the various intersections of self (gender, sexuality, race, class, belief, ability, age, cultural identity, etc).  We also explore how social-community-global factors influence mental health and often contribute to experiences of trauma, grief, depression, anxiety, and acute stress.
    • I am also a person who has her own lived trauma experiences that I have worked through healing  and recovery in my own therapy.  I consider it my ethical responsibility to continue engaging in my own mind/body wellness maintenance practices so that I may show up as my best, healthy, self, being present with my clients. 
  • ”Do you work with gender, sexual, and romantic minorities?”  “Are you culturally competent and engaged with LGBTQ+ issues?”  “Do you practice from a gender & sexuality affirming approach?”
    • Whether you’re exploring, questioning, or celebrating your gender identity, sexual identity, and romantic practices, it’s important to know if the therapist you want to work with is knowledgeable around the work you need to do.  
      • A provider being “LGBT Friendly” may not enough to get the thoughtful,  informed, and practical care and support that you need.  
      • “Culturally competent” clinicians describe those who have specific experience, training, and engagement in the LGBTQ+ community, advocacy, and healthcare practices.  
      • It’s absolutely OK to ask these questions of a potential therapist!
    • “Gender, sexual, and romantic minorities (GSM or GSRM)” refers to folks who live and thrive outside of the cisgender-heterosexual-monogamous identity including but not limited to: LGBTQ+, trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, queer, polyamorous, open relationships, asexual, pansexual, demisexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian.
    • “Gender and sexuality affirmative care” means that diversity of gender and sexual identities are affirmed and supported.  If you are needing letters of support for gender affirming medical treatment or safety carry letters, ask your therapist if they are trained and knowledgeable about these matters
    • WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, provides a Standard of Care guide for healthcare practitioners that provides a protocol for care.
  • “I’ve had some bad experiences with therapists before–how can I tell if a therapist is really going to understand what I need or if they are actually culturally competent in working with people like me?”
    • Ask a potential therapist for a 20minute phone consultation before making an appointment–this will allow you to ask them about their experience with various people, issues, and communities.
    • Ask a potential therapist how informed they are about the socio-political aspects of your experiences (where relevant) and if they aren’t currently informed but make a commitment to get informed, they may be worth considering (if all the other flags are green).
    • Not every therapist who is a thoughtful, conscientious, compassionate clinician has experience with everything–it is common practice for therapists to educate themselves in specific matters in order to better connect with and guide a client.
    • **It is not the client’s job to expend emotional & intellectual labor educating their therapist** beyond the normal work of sharing about client’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings.  If a client has a useful resource, it is entirely appropriate to direct a therapist to a particular book, website, or other media.
    • It is a therapist’s ethical duty to recognize and disclose any limits to their scope of competence and refer out those they cannot adequately serve.
  • “I’ve never been to therapy/counseling before…I don’t know what to expect.”
    • Congratulations!  You’ve made a courageous step toward your own personal growth, healing, and becoming!  Not everyone can do that, I’m proud of you 🙂   Therapy can look several different ways at A Space to Thrive. 
      • Sometimes we sit on the couch and talk. 
      • Sometimes I might suggest a creative process activity. 
      • Sometimes we might map out what we’re discussing on the white board to get a visual of the abstract ideas. 
      • Some clients enjoy doing Walk it Out sessions where we take our session outside and walk around the 0.7mile loop around our office buildings. 
      • Sometimes we might get up and take a superhero stance while deep breathing and truth grounding. 
      • Sometimes we cry, sometimes we swear, sometimes we rage, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we breathe deeply, sometimes we feel nothing, sometimes we feel everything, sometimes we write about it, sometimes we draw about it, sometimes we grieve, sometimes we triumph, sometimes we stumble, sometimes we keep practicing new things
    • I tend to work organically and go with what the mood, energy, and inspiration is.  As a client, you *always* have the autonomy to not engage in an activity or exercise I suggest.  It will not hurt my feelings and I always rather have someone tell me they are uncomfortable, not ready, not into an activity than suffer quietly through.  I may offer therapeutic nudges out of your comfort zone, but I will always respect that you know yourself best and know what your limits are.
  • “I’ve been coping for so long, once I start feeling and talking about things, I’m worried that I won’t be able to handle it.”  
    • Full disclosure: many people experience a seeming “backwards” movement or things getting messier and feeling worse before they get & feel better as they begin moving through therapy, healing, and recovery.  While unpleasant, this is normal and actually a positive vital sign of healing
      • Think of beginning a new workout routine–the next day you probably have a bunch of sore muscles.  Which doesn’t feel good…except it reminds us that we are moving our bodies and working toward getting stronger. 
      • If your entire therapy process was fun and comfortable, I would not be doing you justice to the time and money you are investing in the growth you are truly seeking and ready to do. 
    • Hang in there!  The messy part is NOT your new permanent residence.  It is just one of the stops along the journey on the way to thriving.  I encourage you to keep showing up anyway.  Let’s talk about it.  Even if you’re angry at the process, or even me–tell me all about it.  Journal it.  Cuss about it.  Cry it out.  It’s grueling.  And it has the potential to be exhilarating, joyful, liberating, and empowering.
  • “I’m afraid of what I might learn about myself or the people around me.  What if I change so much I don’t fit in my life anymore.”
    • Your fears and concerns are so valid and normal.  The truth is, healing *does* change us. 
      • When we move through grief, loss, trauma, depression, anxiety, exploring our identity, evaluating our relationship dynamics and patterns, we don’t come out the other side the same. 
      • We learn how to navigate a new normal–including relearning ourselves. 
      • It can be disorienting, uncertain, and unsettling.  Change usually is. 
    • Sometimes as we heal, we find that we are no longer willing to tolerate toxic environments or behaviors and arriving at that place demands we make changes in our professional, personal, social, religious, community, dwelling places. 
    • As you grow and learn about yourself, your relationships, and your experiences, you will also be cultivating the courage, compassion, and resilience to walk in your truth.  And I’ll be there cheering you on!

What other questions do you have?  I’d love to talk with you and see if we’re a good fit to work together!
210-385-4155 or jennifer@aspacetothrive.com