Frequently asked questions and answers
As someone seeking therapy, you have the right to ask your prospective provider questions as part of your journey finding someone with whom you have a good fit. You may be looking for someone who has experience working with specific diagnoses, has lived experiences similar to yours, or maybe just someone whose vibe matches yours. Whatever the case may be, I fully understand how valuable this information can be and would like to do my part to honor this journey. Below are some of the questions I’ve been asked more frequently and my answers to them. I hope this helps you find clarity and direction in your search for a counselor you’re comfortable working with. Best of luck!
How do you work with LGBTQIA+ folks?
LGBTQIA+ topics are something I have more experience working with. There is great variety in what exactly this will look like depending on the unique individual, but the baseline in my own work is being mindful of cisnormative & heteronormative assumptions to keep those out of sessions, understanding that a person's perception of themselves and the world is likely to be influenced in a myriad of ways by their experiences as a queer person, viewing the individual's experiences and challenges in concert with the institutional systems/societal stigmas that target queer folks, and using a strengths-based approach to help the individual find self-empowerment.
How do you work with BIPOC folks?
Similarly, validating BIPOC folks' experiences will also vary and depend on the specific individual's circumstances and needs. This can involve a similar acknowledgement of the cultural and institutional factors contributing to the person's experiences, understanding how a person's relationship with their family of origin and how their similar/different views of culture can influence their present day experiences, (if applicable) understanding how the individual's and/or family members' immigration history affects the way the person moves through the world, (if applicable) understanding the role of language in the way a person formulates their values and interacts with others, and (if applicable) acknowledging the level of alienation that can come with being a bicultural and/or bilingual person.
Note: Intersectionality is critical as well. This is the understanding that LGBTQIA+ & BIPOC identities do not equal just the summation of their parts and instead involve synergy that then creates its own unique experiences.
Note pt. II: Of course, these answers are pretty far from comprehensive, but I wanted to highlight some of the most influential recurring themes that I've noticed.
How do you help folks process trauma and/or grief?
Trauma processing is a multi-faceted and fluid process that will look different depending on the specific individual’s needs and where they are in their journey of healing. Honoring the sensitivity of this work is therefore vital. Since trying to break down and explain the complexities of trauma work likely won’t do this question justice, I would like instead to highlight that working with me on trauma means having a space in which you can more safely experience and express your thoughts and emotions. Although therapy can (and is supposed to) challenge you to approach difficult topics, your boundaries in therapy will be consistently prioritized and respected, particularly when working through such vulnerable content.
How do you work with folks who are neurodivergent/have ADHD or autism diagnoses?
Autism is an area in which I have limited experience, but ADHD is a diagnosis I've worked more with and have a better understanding of the way it presents itself in different areas of life. Working with ADHD usually involves putting in context a person's experiences that they initially thought were personal shortcomings (a pretty common one being "laziness" --> understanding that motivation/energy works differently in people with ADHD) as well as coming up with coping strategies based on this contextual information and tailoring them to the person's daily life & needs.
How do you honor a person’s autonomy, and how do you feel about hospitalization?
It is important to me that I honor the individual's autonomy to the greatest possible ethical extent. The individual's safety is certainly a critical concern and part of my ethical responsibility as a counselor. The goal is to work with folks on avoiding reaching the point of needing hospitalization using all the knowledge and coping mechanisms we can access. If, however, I have a clinical basis for believing that the individual is in imminent danger of hurting themselves, I am obligated to pursue this option. I fully understand that this option is not without its own set of negative experiences, but safety remains the concern of the utmost importance and will be prioritized as such. This situation and other exceptions to confidentiality are also outlined in the paperwork completed prior to our first appointment, so every person can start their sessions with fully informed consent.
How do you feel about mental health medication?
Medication can definitely be a highly valuable tool for coping with mental health challenges. At the same time, medication is not an option that everyone wishes to try. As a counselor, I am not able to prescribe medication (only a physician can do this), so if the individual I am working with is interested in pursuing this option then my role as a counselor would be to share the information I know about it, try and help them figure out whether mental health meds could be a helpful coping tool for them to pursue, and provide the resources I know of for meeting with a physician to learn more and try medication if they decide this is a helpful next step for them.
What are your thoughts on diagnosing?
A counselor's philosophy on diagnoses will vary. Mine is that we use it mindfully and with an intentional avoidance of over-pathologization; we use it as a tool for understanding the person's challenges and addressing them accordingly. Understanding how and why a mental health condition develops can be helpful insight into the patterns that presently obstruct the person’s life goals, so pinpointing a diagnosis and using it as context information can definitely part of forging a path forward.
What insurance do you accept?
We accept United HealthCare and Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance as well as self-pay. Health insurance plans and copays vary pretty widely, the best way for you to know financial responsibility and specifics is to contact your insurance company directly (calling the member services number on the back of your insurance card) and ask if Ashley Peterson Vincent/ Ashley Peterson Counseling Services is in-network with your plan, ask about your co-pay to see a specialist, and ask about your deductible (if you have one) and whether it applies to specialist visits. Also, if we are out of network, ask about their reimbursement policy.