How do I get started with therapy with you?
Start by sending me a message either through email, my website, PsychologyToday, or HelloAlma. I typically respond within 48 business hours.
I then respond to schedule and coordinate a no cost 20 minute consultation video or phone call based on both of our availabilities.
During this call, you can further elaborate on what you are hoping for with therapy, I can provide more information about myself, and we then determine if we seem like a good fit to get started. Reading my bio beforehand can help this process. On my end, I am very inclusive of clients and can usually meet clients where they are at. I do require that my clients have the means to commit to therapy independently so need to be a legal adult, have a reliable way to attend and pay for therapy, and are not in a crisis.
Before starting, we will also discuss payment options through insurance or out of pocket/ private pay. After this, we can schedule our first appointment.
Lastly, I will follow-up to obtain your insurance information for verification of benefits, and for you to review and sign my intake and policy forms 48 hours prior to our scheduled therapy appointment.
What happens with insurance?
I accept Aetna, Optum, UnitedHealthcare (UHC), HRAs, HSAs, and private pay. Your benefits will be verified by a service I use called HelloAlma.
After an appointment takes place, I submit a claim through HelloAlma. Within the next few days, you will then receive a bill based on your benefits through a link by email. I do require a payment method at the start of therapy because if for whatever reason your insurance does not pay for all or part of the session, you are responsible for the session fee. Charges made incorrectly will be promptly reimbursed. Although verification on my end takes place, I recommend calling your insurance to prevent surprises.
Do you provide therapy in-person or virtually or both?
I provide therapy in-person at my office in NW Austin right next to Cedar Park, TX and through Zoom for all Texas residents that are currently in Texas. Walk and talk therapy or outside sessions are offered on specific occasion for a more experiential mindfulness based appointment. Clients can freely switch from in-person office and virtual Zoom sessions by appointment. I may make a recommendation based on what I learn about your needs.
What do you offer as my therapist?
Supportive Therapy - The foundation of therapy is good listening. You will be provided with a confidential and nonjudgmental space to identify and address challenges. I provide support by listening, asking exploratory questions, and providing the experience of unconditional positive regard. This can feel like acceptance, curiosity, and compassion for your authentic experiences which can be a strong corrective experience if done consistently for those who are experiencing a lot of external and internal judgment and criticism.
Behavioral Therapy - This is rooted in the idea that if we changed our behaviors, we can then affect our internal experience and our mental health.
Taking inventory and the review of your current coping skills
Exploration of how it may be helpful or not helpful
Identifying, teaching, and practicing of additional coping skills to replace or provide additional options in symptom management
Monitoring and tracking symptoms with the behavioral changes made
NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) - NARM is a trauma-informed cognitive, somatic, and experiential model that focuses on present internal experiences in the context of external circumstances. NARM supports a client in identifying and connecting with their deepest desire for themselves and how their internal process helps or gets in the way of this. Internal processes that get in the way can stem from formed adaptations that were needed for surviving from adversity and complex trauma. An example of this is clients may notice that although they want connection with others which they intellectually know will allow them to thrive and flourish, they get in their own way by sabotaging these connections with the intention to protect themselves and survive.
You can learn more about NARM by visiting https://narmtraining.com/what-is-narm/ or reading the Practical Guide for Healing Developmental Trauma by Laurence Heller, PhD and Brad Kammer, LMFT.
Psychoeducation - I provide information that is available in the mental health field that you may have not considered on your own that may be relevant to your current challenges. This is helpful to create some distance with your experience in order to observe it and better address it. Could be information on attachment styles, personality disorder traits, diagnostic criteria for your diagnosis, effective alternative options to the work we are doing to address relationship issues, self-esteem issues, addiction, depression, and anxiety.
What is trauma anyway?
Trauma develops from lived adversity that was overwhelming and beyond the threshold of what a person had capacity for or was able to process and digest. Trauma is a living process that is stored internally in a person's mind and body that significantly impacts a person's ability to function and thrive. It can manifest as symptoms of chronic anxiety, recurring depression, drastic changes in mood, difficulty being present and regulating attention, persistent difficulties with self-esteem and maintaining healthy behaviors in relationships, overuse of coping strategies to the point of causing harm such as disordered eating, substance abuse, and process addiction with shopping, gambling, media use.
When we consider PTSD or shock trauma, these are big, shocking events such as violence when safety or life was threatened. For complex trauma or known as C-PTSD if PTSD is also present, these events that occurred or co-occurred may have been less shocking and violent yet more pervasive and persistent; such as consistent psychological and emotional wounding by primary caregivers or failures from the environment that were not readily noticed. Often times, people do not recognize their own complex trauma since it became what was normal for them as a child. Usually complex trauma is developmental even when the circumstances that help a person become aware was a later trauma such as a harmful relationship in adulthood.
In order to survive, the human mind and body adapts to these events and circumstances in largely subconscious ways due to the events and circumstances being beyond a person's capacity to consciously experience. Consider a young child that had not yet learned to identify their thoughts and emotions. These adaptations due to them being subconscious tend to be outside of a person's control and can appear as self-sabotage and impulsivity. They also tend to no longer be useful and can even be harmful to a person's ability to function and thrive and can show up as symptoms listed earlier.
Through the process of trauma-informed therapy, clients can consciously process their trauma by bringing cognitive or mind awareness to it, and with the use of a mindful and body aware approach, embody their adaptations to where they are able to have agency or power over them which can lead to symptom reduction and improved quality of life.
Sources: firsthand accounts from patients in clinics and hospitals from 2015-2020 and clients in private practice settings from 2020-present. The NARM Training Institute, Healing Developmental Trauma, The Body Keeps Score, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity, What Happened to You?, It Didn't Start With You, Walking The Tiger: Healing Trauma, Scattered Minds
What are lived experiences you are willing to share with a prospective client?
I was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the US in 1998. I am familiar with the Chicago, DFW, and Austin areas. Interestingly, I have close family in New Zealand, and I am familiar with the culture there.
I identify as a cisgendered, heterosexual, female person of color. I am a supporter of equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ movements. I meet with clients of all races and ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. I am also a neurodivergent affirming therapist. I have an approach that supports understanding and embracing of neurodivergent traits versus fixing. I consider myself spiritual and non-religious and have a non-religious and secular approach.
I am in a multiracial marriage. I support and meet with clients who are in traditional and non-traditional relationships and families, with children, childless, or childfree.
In my personal time, I enjoy quality time with those dearest to me, time in nature and appreciating art in different forms. Walking alongside my clients, I am continually working on being more present (not on my phone) and living authentically and in a way that prioritizes my wellbeing.