If you want to ask me your questions directly, schedule a consultation. I'd love to talk with you!
OR Submit a question for my Ask Me Anything Column right here:
How is coaching different from counseling?
Yes, I have completed a masters in counseling, but the work I do is not based You’ve tried therapy and stuck to it… but it’s time to apply the skills learned. Counseling is important reflective healing work, but my clients come to me hoping to take action for change. That's where coaching comes in.
Counseling (the "assessment and treatment of mental health disorders") is about asking why something is happening. Coaching doesn't assess or treat these disorders- my clients are healthy. Instead we ask what you want to do differently. How do you want to change?
You're pretty friendly, how is this different from a friendship?
Having friendly relationships with my clients is important to me, but this isn't a friendship per se. Whenever we meet I'm working for you providing facilitated space, open-mindedness, years of experience and training, and deep professional care.
What's different than friendship is:
- I bring ten years of professional expertise and training helping people build healthy relationships
- I don't have personal attachment to your story so I won't offer judgment and you don't have to question my motives
- You don't have to take care of my feelings or needs- this is a one-way relationship
- I won't hit on you, sleep with you, or date you- our boundaries remain clear no matter how intimate our conversation
- I won't search you online or in social media, what you choose to bring to session is up to you
- The things you say to me remain strictly confidential (see more on this below)
How long are sessions?
Couples sessions are 75-90 minutes long. I ask you to reserve 90 minutes for our meeting each time we schedule. Many of my clients arrive 15 minutes early to collect their thoughts before session- I highly recommend it.
Individual sessions are 50 minutes long. Many of my clients arrive 15 minutes early to collect their thoughts before session- I highly recommend it.
How often will we meet?
Most of my clients meet me every other week. This gives you time to check in with your partner, your other partners, and (if you're in couples work) your individual therapist or coach. It also gives a little more time to try out the skills we're working on before we meet again.
A small number of my clients meet me weekly. These are typically clients healing from affairs and experiencing extreme emotions. Sometimes clients meet me weekly during stressful experiences (loss, break-up, new partner etc) or when they are making time-sensitive decisions (should we stay together, move to China, abort this pregnancy etc).
There's also a small number of clients who I have worked with for a while who want to invest in pro-active relationship maintenance. We've generally cleared up the initial concerns they brought to my office, but they want a container to hold their conflicts with care moving forward. We typically meet every third week for this kind of preventative relationship care work.
How long do you meet with people?
Most clients work with me 4-6 months. Many clients choose to stay on for monthly relationship maintenance meetings to help keep their relationships healthy.
I'm proud that over 50% of my clients return years after working together to start up again when new issues arise. They enjoyed our work together, found it helpful, and want to work with someone who knows their back story.
Where is your office/Where will we meet?
All my initial screening free consultations happen on the phone.
Once we've decided to work together we may meet on the phone or in my office in Northeast Portland, OR. My office is in the Overlook/Arbor Lodge neighborhoods at the corner of N Denver and N Killingsworth. You can take the Max or the bus easily and there is ample street parking.
How much does this work cost?
I recommend budgeting between $175 and $800 each month for this work (depending on the frequency and type of meetings). I offer some reduced rate spaces for clients who make a lower income.
Initial phone consultations are free. First sessions for couples are $200 and first solo sessions are $175. Ongoing couples sessions are $175 and solo sessions are $125. Again, let me know if this is too much for your household budget, I may have reduced rate sessions available.
Do you offer sliding-scale or reduced fee sessions?
I do reserve a small number of spaces for reduced rate clients who make a lower income. Some of my clients also meet with me less frequently to make this work fit in their budgets. Let me know if you need help affording our work.
Do you bill insurance?
I would never share your personal information with a corporation- so no, I do not bill insurance. Some of my clients have used Flex Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts to work with me successfully.
Will you see either of us individually if we also see you as a couple?
I will see you individually to work on issues related to the relationship. But if you want additional support for other areas of your life, or very intense self-work I will likely refer you out.
How does confidentiality work?
Everything you say to me in session is kept confidential on my end forever. There are only a few exceptions to this:
- If you are abusing someone in your care, or your partner, or yourself I'll likely have to report your abuses
- If you are planning to kill yourself or another person I will report your plans
- If you contact me using the internet, social media, email, or a smart phone I have no control over the confidentiality of the information you share (but google, facebook, etc will)
- I am currently receiving supervision for both a Sex Counselor and a Master Coach credential and will talk with my supervisor about my client work- but I will remove identifying information in these conversations.
How do you maintain boundaries with a community so interconnected?
It's not uncommon for one of my clients to have some familiarity with others. But your confidentiality is of utmost importance. If there's something that feels uncomfortable we'll talk about it, but I won't be able to share information about any of my other clients, famous or not, past or present.
Your information is safe with me.
I also don't discuss my own personal connections, interests, desires, or activities with clients. If I show up at an event and a client is in attendance I will probably leave. I do this to maintain a professional relationship, instead of beginning a personal one (that could complicate our work together). I'd rather maintain extra distance than harm our work.
What if we stop working together?
Your confidentiality is respected even if we stop working together. Once you become one of my clients you can always return to our work, so your information will wait in a secure vault if (until) you decide to return.
What qualifies you to work with LGBTQ clients?
I studied LGBTQ identity development and human sexuality in my first masters at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University a long long time ago. From there I worked with queer resource centers on college campuses and LGBTQ nonprofits in Seattle. I left education/nonprofit work to become a therapist because I wanted more transgender people to have access to letter writing therapists.
My professional training came when I completed my graduate internship at the nation's longest-running LGBTQ-focused mental health agency, Seattle Counseling Services (formerly Seattle Counseling Services for Sexual Minorities). There I received excellent training on serving LGBTQ populations as a couples counselor.
Since then I have focused my private practice entirely on working with LGBTQ-identified clients. Even as I shift from counseling to relationship coaching, my dedication and expertise in serving LGBTQ clients remains strong.
Are you gay/queer/bi/trans/lesbian?
Yup. But that's about all the information I'll share about my own relationship. I like to keep the focus of our work on you.
Do you write letters for transgender medical procedures or treatment?
Not since I stopped working as a mental health counselor (because my clients aren't unhealthy- and neither are you) but I do have a LONG list of mental health providers who can write one for you.
Do you work with straight couples?
Of course! Many of my straight (or mostly-straight) couples are happy to know I work primarily with LGBTQ clients.
They often feel even more comfortable sharing the less traditional parts of themselves with a provider who is open-minded and non-judgmental.
What is a sex-positive provider?
One of the best questions I get from new clients is about my listing as a sex-positive professional, or a kink-aware provider.
Not all my clients engage in sex-positive community, but for some of my clients it is especially important to know I have eight years of expertise in working with clients from BDSM, fetish, and other kink scenes.
This is important because there are a lot of well-intended professionals who will tell you they are sex-positive, but just having a sex-positive philosophy isn't enough- if you work with me you have someone with the philosophy, the skills, and the knowledge.
What if we're new to BDSM, kink, and/or don't know where to begin?
I work with a lot of clients who are just beginning to get creative and explore their sexuality. Some of them just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and others have held secret fantasies for years and are just now opening up to their partner.
I'll meet with you to help you determine an integrity-based path that supports your physical and emotional health as well as your desires. I can also refer you to a wide range of specific organizations, clubs, groups, teachers, and events in the Portland area to help grow your learning and your community in a way that feels as safe as possible for you.
What if only one of us is kinky?
Many couples choose to work with me when one partner is interested in kink and the other is not. Let me help you figure out a path that is right for both of you.
It can be helpful to work with a knowledgeable and non-judgmental professional to discuss and negotiate new sexual territory.
Are you kinky?
I think most people have some creative desires but I won't share my own sexual desires or activities with you because the focus of our work is on you- not me.
Will you demonstrate X act with/on/for us?
I don't do any hands-on work with clients. But I know plenty of knowledgable professionals who do and I'm happy to refer you.
Do you work with vanilla couples too?
Absolutely! Even clients who follow more mainstream or traditional sexual and sensual practices often find comfort knowing this is a specialty of mine.
These clients love working with me because I apply the same open non-judgmental approach to my work with all couples- no matter how kinky.
Do you coach sex-workers?
Yup. If you want to know more about how I can support you in maintaining your work/life balance schedule a consultation so we can chat.
Can we get through this affair?
Even couple takes a different route through infidelity. Some of my couples choose to split up- and in those cases I help them do so with respect and kindness.
Most of my couples choose to stay together and though it isn't easy many of them make it through. We work to repair broken trust and create communication that works for both of you moving forward.
Is infidelity normal?
Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. Estimates range between 60% and 80% of all ("monogamous")couples experience infidelity. So yeah, infidelity is pretty common.
If you're asking is it normal to feel this way, please know it is completely "normal" to feel a lot of intense and conflicting feelings whether you are the partner who has an affair or the one who didn't. Your feelings are valid. Let me help you work through them with integrity.
I've helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair. I can help you repair trust no matter what you've been through. Set up a free consultation to see if we're a good match to work together.
I feel crazy/overwhelmed after finding out my sweetheart/partner/spouse cheated. Will this emotional roller coaster ever go away?
Finding out you've been betrayed brings up a surprising amount of intense emotions. Often they arise when we least expect and even more often they feel out of control. I offer this information to tell you you are not alone. Not at all.
I've helped hundreds of folks get through all this intensity and I'm happy to help you stay grounded and clear so you can make decisions from a place of wisdom and connection- instead of unpredictable reactivity.
How do we rebuild trust?
I know the feelings that come up when trust is broken are intense and hard to sit with- but rebuilding trust takes time. I recommend working with a professional to help you get a solid foundation laid or to patch cracks in that foundation with care. I'm happy to talk more specifically about what you might need to build trust in a free consultation.
Do you believe polyamory or monogamy is healthier?
I don't think relationship health is determined by the number of partners involved- but I do believe it can be measured by the level of communication, empathy, trust, and connection experienced by partners.
For some people open relationship structures are overwhelming. And for others monogamy is stifling. I don't think you always have to choose one or the other, but I want all my couples to be able to openly discuss these with kindness and ease.
How did you learn about open relationships?
I became interested in couples work when I was in graduate school studying couples counseling. I was fortunate to study in a holistic program that emphasized non-traditional therapeutic styles. I was also really lucky to intern at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute when I finished school and really learn about strengthening trust in relationships.
I wrote my final research on non-monogamy in couples therapy and have only expanded my research and education since then. I left the profession of mental health therapy in 2016 to focus on coaching this population.
Does non-monogamy really work?
Absolutely. If you define "working" as being together a long time, I will tell you I've supported couples who are married or who have been together for 14, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.
If you define "working" by being generally satisfied with your relationship, supporting one another's growth, feeling empathy and desire for your partner I will tell you I've supported couples who are married and/or who have been together for 4, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.
But to make non-monogamy work, you need to be willing to do some work. That's where I can help you.
Do you work with monogamous couples?
Even for clients who choose monogamy, it can be important to know this is a specialty of mine. These clients love working with me because I apply the same open non-judgmental approach to my work with all couples.
I love all kinds of love - monogamous love too!
What about affairs in polyamorous relationships?
Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. I work with couples to rebuild trust and overcome jealousy every week in session. I have helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair. (Read more about my work with infidelity here)
I can to help you build and repair trust no matter your relationship structure. Schedule a consultation to get started with me here.
Are you poly/open/non-monogamous?
Yup. But I won't give you a lot of information about my relationship structure beyond that because if we're going to work together I want to keep the focus on you.