How does psychotherapy or counseling from a Catholic foundation differ from secular approaches?
Can a non-Catholic receive services at Counseling with Grace?
My Approach
What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a psychotherapist (e.g., LPC, LMFT, LCSW)?
What can I expect for my first session?
How often are therapy sessions? How long does therapy last?
Do you take insurance?
What are your fees?
Do you do psychological testing?
Do you prescribe medication?

How does psychotherapy or counseling from a Catholic foundation differ from secular approaches?

Every therapist or counselor has personal values and beliefs about human beings, about what causes problems, and about the possible solutions to these problems.  Some therapists are not comfortable disclosing their values and beliefs in advance to a prospective client, and in fact there are many therapists who may not be very aware of their own belief systems.  We operate from a perspective that is consistent with our Catholic faith and with biblical teaching.  We are ready, willing, and able to describe our values and beliefs and how these inform the therapy that we provide.There are numerous times in therapy in which Catholic beliefs and values help define a problem and what options might be available.  For instance, a young woman with an unexpected pregnancy may feel that her only option is to get an abortion.  We at Counseling with Grace, recognizing the sanctity of life beginning from conception, could not recommend that the young woman consider abortion, and so would instead help her consider other options.  For another illustration, in a recent public discussion among secular psychologists about child exposure to pornography, one psychologist suggested that we should not assume that pornography is harmful to children.  We believe for many reasons that pornography is always harmful to those who create it, and to those who examine it.  To give a final example, we recognize the sanctity of marriage and thus place a high value on saving marriages that may be in trouble.

All of us at Counseling with Grace are actively “practicing” Catholic who have a good knowledge of the Church and a deep respect for what the catechism teaches.  We value the spiritual dimension of life and devote time regularly to our own spiritual growth and development. Is therapy from a Catholic perspective better than secular psychotherapy? This is a difficult question to answer.  Studying the effectiveness of therapy has for a long time been a great challenge and mission in the field of Psychology.  We do know that some approaches are more effective than others for certain types of problems, and that some therapists have better success than others.  We know that overall, psychotherapy is helpful.  As a first choice, we make use of any and all identified Best Practices and Evidence-Based Practices known in the field, while still operating from a foundation of the Catholic faith’s perspective on the human person, human relationships, and the nature of psychological difficulties.  This knowledge base is ever changing and evolving, and so we have a responsibility to stay current on research and to develop and refine our counseling skills on an on-going basis.  We also evaluate research and techniques from a Catholic perspective, to ensure that they do not conflict with our faith. We are members of many organizations such as the American Psychological Association, Texas Psychological Associate, as well as members of CatholicTherapists.

Can a non-Catholic receive services at Counseling with Grace?

Absolutely. We have served and will continue to serve non-Catholics. Our doors are open to everyone so long as there is a good match between the therapist and the client. Those clients who are Catholic may feel the most comfortable with our counselors.

As mentioned above, Counseling with Grace operates from a Catholic basis of belief. It is possible that a new, prospective client may ask us to help with an issue in a way that would conflict with our Catholic conscience. If this should occur, we will be happy to immediately make referrals for other therapists in the community that may be more comfortable and skilled with the issue. Hopefully there can be a good discussion about these issues at the very beginning of therapy or even in the assessment process.

The mission of Counseling with Grace is not first to evangelize, but instead to respond to a person’s request for the relief of suffering.  This having been said, sometimes through the grace of therapy Catholics who are not actively participating in the sacramental life of the church may return and have a renewed interest and desire for the Eucharist and for Reconciliation and a wish for deepening their faith relationship.

It is not the job of a counselor or therapist to pass judgment on a person who is suffering and asking for help.  To pass judgment in therapy would actually be counterproductive.  Instead, we are focused on the healing process.  Sometimes therapy involves confrontation of behavior, but this is different from judgment and condemnation of the person.  Loving confrontation, when appropriate and when done at the right time in the right spirit, is designed to help people see a part of reality about their behaviors that they may be missing or minimizing.

In addition, clients sometimes are unclear or not aware of the church’s teachings on a particular issue.  If it should come up as part of a counseling issue, we are prepared to discuss the church’s position as a matter of fact, but not in condemnation.  In some cases a client may be referred to a priest or spiritual director for additional consideration of the matter.

My Approach
I use a primarily cognitive-behavioral approach to therapy, also known as CBT. This means that we focus on your thoughts and behaviors, how they impact your life, and what changes could be made that may improve your life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques have been shown by research to be helpful for many people in reducing their problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often involves assigned “homework,” or practice outside of sessions. This helps you to learn new skills and see how they impact your life. When cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques do not seem like the best approach for a person’s problems, I integrate other therapy approaches into our work together. I will work with you to find the best treatment option for you.In my work with children, I believe in working collaboratively with parents and other providers (such as school professionals, other caregivers, and psychiatrists or family doctors), as agreed upon by parents, to coordinate services. If you are bringing your child in for therapy, you can expect to be an active part of the treatment process. I may work with you and your child together for all or part of a session, and may even ask to meet with you without your child for some sessions. I will keep you informed of your child’s progress. I will also rely on you to provide updates about your child’s functioning. I may assign activities for your child to do at home and ask you to help or monitor their completion.

Some children, and most adolescents, benefit from increased confidentiality, meaning that less specific information is shared with their parents. Times when younger children may benefit more from increased confidentiality may include cases of divorce or abuse. Parents are often less actively involved in work with adolescents, although their contributions are still very important. Together, we will discuss what level of parent involvement makes the most sense for your child and family. Parents are always notified of safety concerns, regardless of the child or adolescent’s preference.

What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a counselor (e.g., LPC, LMFT, LCSW)?Psychologists in the United States have a Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy degree, in the area of psychology, and a license to practice as a psychologist. Training to become a psychologist involves attending graduate school for five or more years after college, obtaining a certain number of supervised hours to be licensed, and passing licensing exams. The specific number of hours and required exams varies by state. Psychologists generally meet with individuals every week or two to help them develop strategies for dealing with their problems. Psychologists do not attend medical school. In most states, including Texas, psychologists cannot prescribe medication.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree. They attend four years of medical school after college, after which they receive several years of psychiatric training during internship and residency. General adult psychiatrists receive four years of psychiatric training, while psychiatrists who treat children and adolescents receive three years of general training and an additional two years of training specific to the treatment of children and adolescents. Although psychiatrists can provide therapy as well as prescribing medication, many psychiatrists today focus on medication management and do little if any therapy with patients.

Counselors  (e.g., LPC’s, LMFT’s, LCSW’s) earn masters degrees which generally require two or three years of graduate school after college. As with other mental health providers, they must receive a certain number of supervised hours and pass an exam to be licensed.

What can I expect for my first session?

The first therapy session, also called an intake session, is a chance for us to get to know each other and decide whether or not to work together. During this session, we will discuss your reasons for seeking therapy as well as your goals. You will also have the opportunity to ask me questions about therapy.  Many therapists require you to fill out extensive paperwork before your first meeting, and have 60 minute first sessions. I prefer to minimize the paperwork you fill out before meeting with me and have longer first sessions where we can discuss your background and reasons for seeking therapy in person.When working with preadolescent children, I prefer to meet alone with the parents for the first session. This will give you an opportunity to get to know me and make sure you feel comfortable with me before introducing me to your child, and will help you answer your child’s questions about what to expect. It will also allow you to discuss your concerns openly without the child present; listening to parents’ concerns can be unnecessarily uncomfortable for young children.

If you are bringing your adolescent in for treatment, please bring them to the first session. We will meet together to discuss treatment and confidentiality. I will then likely meet with each of you individually for a portion of the session to discuss your individual concerns and goals for treatment.

Please note that a parent or legal guardian is required to attend the first session with a minor to consent to their treatment. If you are divorced, you will need to provide documentation verifying your legal authority to seek treatment, or allow me to obtain consent from the other parent as well.

How often are therapy sessions? How long does therapy last?

Therapy sessions are generally once a week for 45 minutes for the first several weeks or months of therapy. Weekly meetings can be particularly important for young children when starting therapy; it helps them to develop a relationship with the therapist and to solidify new skills through consistent practice and repetition. Sessions are sometimes held every other week, and on rare occasions, you may have multiple sessions in a week. We will discuss the best frequency of sessions for you when making a treatment plan.

The length of treatment can vary depending on your needs.

Do you do psychological testing?

At this time, psychological testing is fee-for-service only. This means that you are expected to pay for services at the time they are provided and no insurance is accepted. Psychological testing fees may range from $450 to $1200, depending for length of testing and complexity of case.  There is a minimum of 4 hours per testing at the rate of $125 per hour.  Not all cases require a full evaluation and therefore a diagnostic session is required in order to clarify options.

Do you prescribe medication?

As a psychologist, I cannot prescribe medication. I will help you to develop your strengths and learn new skills for managing your concerns. If you are already prescribed medication, I will coordinate services with your prescriber, with your written permission. If you are not taking medication and I think it would be helpful, I will discuss this with you and help you find a provider who can evaluate your medication needs and prescribe the appropriate medication for you or your child.