Questions and Answers...

What is counseling?

Counseling is a 1:1 relationship. The purpose of that relationship is to explore your thoughts, feelings, values, and behaviors that are related to particular situations in your life. Counseling can help you navigate life transitions, improve relationships, and promote self-awareness, self-understanding and self-acceptance. Through counseling, some people experience healing. People often seek counseling when they are struggling with a problem but it is more than that; it can also be for the purpose of personal growth. The goal of counseling is to free you to make the choices and changes that are best for you.

What is spiritual direction?

Spiritual direction is a 1:1 relationship. The purpose of that relationship is to deepen your connection with the Divine and includes exploring the question, "What is the Holy's invitation to me?" This will also involve exploring your expectations and your ambivalence, your understanding of Mystery and how you connect with the Sacred. It will also involve examining obstacles that you have to the Holy. (Rest assured, we all have them!) The goal of spiritual direction is for you to become more open and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The frequency of seeing a spiritual director varies with each person and with the events in ones life at a particular time. Usually this is once a month for an hour.

Who benefits from spiritual direction?

Women and men seek spiritual direction for a variety of reasons:

  • When noticing a desire to grow in a deeper relationship with the Holy
  • When seeking to identify and to trust their own experiences of Mystery
  • When realizing that what ordinarily nourishes their spirit is no longer enough
  • When facing major life decisions
  • When needing to discern life directions
  • When praying becomes burdensome
  • When faith in God, or in Life, is shaken
  • When they are experiencing an insatiable longing for "more"

How do counseling and spiritual direction differ?

In theory, counseling tends to focus on the mental, physical, and relational dimensions of life, and spiritual direction tends to focus on the spiritual dimension of life. However, as much as we would like, we are not that compartmentalized. Ideally the spiritual dimension guides the mental, physical, and relational dimensions of life; this is integrated living. If this does not occur, life is fragmented and out of balance as each dimension vies for control.

In spiritual direction, the central question is "What is God's invitation to me?" and the Holy Spirit is understood to be the real "Counselor." The spiritual director listens deeply and prayerfully, looking beneath the surface and behind the facade of conventional gestures so that the uniqueness of each individual may grow into a fuller expression of aliveness and love.

In counseling, the client identifies the goals and the counselor creates an environment that promotes exploration, encourages awareness, and expands choice.

How are they the same?

Counseling and spiritual direction have many similarities. Both are collaborative, in both you bring "the stuff" of your daily life, and both can be experienced as healing, liberating, validating, and empowering. To be effective, they both require your commitment to work between sessions. They are not about easy answers or about being told what to do or about changing someone else. Both require your willingness to take an honest look at yourself. My job, in both contexts, is to create a safe place for you to do this, to guide the process, and to provide information when that is helpful.

Additionally, explicit or not, I see God at work in both processes. If we take seriously the fact that we are all created in the image of God, which is inherently good and for the purpose of love, then we will understand that the goal of counseling ("to make the choices and changes that are best for you") and the goal of spiritual direction ("to become more open and responsive to God's nudges and the promptings of the Holy Spirit") will ultimately be about making this goodness and love more of a lived reality. Whether we are aware of it or not, the choice to move in this direction is always initiated by God.

What do you mean when you say you bring together the spiritual, mental, physical, and relational dimensions of life?

The spiritual dimension of life is our primary source of inspiration and aspiration; the mental dimension focuses on functioning, organizing, and achieving; the physical dimension is concerned with satisfying urges and desires; and the relational dimension is about relating to others in the past, present, and future.* We often treat these dimensions like juggling balls. Occasionally we drop one. It is hard to keep them all in the air at once. It requires all of our attention and is tiring.

Each of these dimensions wants to dominate. Perhaps you recognize the experience. When the spiritual dominates, the result can be perpetual dreaming and escapism. When the mental dominates, productivity and control become important values. When the physical dominates, there can be an over-emphasis on physical perfection and the need for immediate gratification. When the relational dimension dominates, the result can be blind conformity to the culture and to the will of others.

Bringing them together is about integration; they are all one ball. It is about letting the spiritual guide (not dominate) the mental, which guides the physical, which guides the relational. The cycle is on-going. It requires trusting God.

Do you work with children and teens?

I prefer to help children and teens by coaching and supporting their parents or guardians. I believe these relationships are uniquely influential and are the context where the most change can take place.

Do you do couples counseling?

We often spend years preparing for our careers, studying and developing skills, yet we enter into intimate relationships with only our life experience. We may have a vision of what we want but have little idea of how to make it happen. The reality is though, that being in a mutually satisfying, long-term, committed relationship is ongoing, challenging work. I enjoy working with motivated couples who are interested in growing and strengthening their relationship and with those who are adjusting to new circumstances in their lives. I am also happy to help couples with parenting. In some cases, however, couples engage in unhealthy patterns of interaction for many years, and this creates more complex marital tension. In these matters, I think you will be better served by a therapist who specializes in this type of work. I know several very good marriage and family therapists and would be happy to give you their names.

What are your fees?

I want is to make my services available to everyone who has a desire to grow so I offer an equity-based sliding scale fee, suggesting $50 - $90 per session, as you are able. I accept cash, checks, and major credit cards, as well as payment through Venmo and PayPal.

Why don't you accept insurance?

Insurance companies operate from a medical model so therefore require a diagnosis. A diagnosis suggests illness or pathology and treatment plans are aimed at symptom relief. Although pain (dis-ease) may be one motivator for seeking my services, it is not necessarily an indicator of pathology. I have been a provider for insurance companies but have found the terms of the contracts to be incongruent with the work that I do. This is a very individual choice, and was a difficult decision for me so I understand if you want to seek the services of an insurance provider.