Frequent Questions About Working Together

 

Info: www.willhall.net
Scheduling: www.willhall.net/schedule
Email: willhallclients@gmail.com
Skype: wiltonhall
Phone / text: +1 (413) 210 2803
Mail: 3114 Terra Linda Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Signup for updates: http://www.willhall.net/signup
Twitter: @willhallI have a 24 hour session cancellation policy.
Email to willhallclients@gmail.com is best way to reach me.
If time sensitive, please send me a text message.
*Important note: my clients email address is a priority email box, but I do get a high volume of email, so please email me again if there is a delay replying or your message is time sensitive. You can also text me.
I highly recommended this online skills course for families: http://www.familieshealingtogether.com
You can find general information about alternative approaches at http://www.madnessradio.net

Do you have a sliding scale for people with economic limitations?

I charge standard rates for counseling and consulting in the US, and I adjust for the country economics of the person I am working with. Please email me to confirm my current rate. Because I charge standard rates for counseling and training,  I am able to devote a portion of my working hours to volunteer community work, and to working with people with limited economic means at a reduced rate. If you have income limitations please let me know your needs, and if I have sliding scale openings I will do the best I can to work something out with you. If I don’t have sliding scale openings, you can check back with me after a time to see if any have opened up. I can also point you to other resources, such as the communities and educational work I am part of.

If you are working with me on a sliding scale reduced rate, please keep me updated with any changes in your economic situation that affect your ability to pay and/or the frequency of our sessions, so we can adjust our arrangement and keep things fair and up to date.

Do you take insurance?

Sometimes clients have been able to get insurance reimbursement, but because my work is not the same as mainstream therapy, psychotherapy, or psychology I generally don’t take insurance. Contact your insurance provider if you are unsure; I can provide whatever documentation is needed.

Do you recommend any other resources?

The Families Healing Together course offerings are excellent skills building for families going through recovery. Families I work with consistently report how useful these courses are for their daily lives. Madness Radio is a great introduction to alternative ways of understanding mental health issues. My coming off medications page has resources about psychiatric drugs including my free Harm Reduction Guide, and the website Beyond Meds is an excellent intro to recovery movement resources.

I don’t have skype, can we still meet?

I meet people via skype or phone, based on your preference.

What if the internet connection is not reliable?

If you are unfamiliar with Skype please test your connection and system beforehand so any technical issues will be sorted out before we meet.

Turn off all background applications when you make a skype call.

If the connection still is not working, we can try twice to call back, and then go to a regular phone call.

If the skype video works but audio doesn’t, we can put the skype video on mute and then call on a regular phone.

I do my best to make video connection an option, but sometimes because of my schedule I will not have enough of a bandwidth available and will need to do a phone call instead.

Are weekly sessions the only way to work?

While I do see many people weekly, flexibility is an important part of the way I work with people, and some people do not follow a weekly format. I often work with someone weekly for a while, then am available as-needed from time to time, such as when things get difficult or they feel stuck or want a new perspective on things.  I also have worked more frequently than once a week if that seems best for the situation and needs, such as times of crisis or conflict.

Everyone I have worked with is always free to contact me in the future at any time, even if we haven’t met in a while, and will receive scheduling priority if you want to meet.

Are all your sessions an hour?

Usually I meet for 50 minutes, after which we will wind up the session. The ten minutes extra gives me time to transition between appointments, and also if there is something we didn’t get to it allows us to take a bit of extra time before we close the session. Our appointment may need to start up to about ten minutes after the hour if the previous session went a little long.

If you are feeling the need to spend more time together, I do sometimes meet with people for longer than an hour. If we meet longer, we will try to take about a ten minute break between each hour.

How long should we work together?

I have worked with people who benefitted from one session: sometimes it doesn’t take much time to strengthen their own resolve, help them make a specific decision, learn new information, or pass a turning point in a relationship that has been stuck. Usually people work for several months; and some clients have seen me regularly for many years, or worked together for a while and then stayed in touch with sessions every now and then. I often raise the question of how to make our time together most useful and how we should best proceed. My goal is for you to find resources outside of therapy to give you the support you need, but I am also here to continue to meet as needed, and emphasize flexibility in the way I work.

Can I reach out to you if I need to between sessions?

If you find yourself needing to reach out or connect before an upcoming scheduled session, please feel free to contact me. If things feel urgent, I am often available for a brief check-in phone call or I can text or email you back. We can also schedule a session on short notice.

I’m not always available to respond right away, but I do my best. The fastest way to contact me is through the special clients email address I have sent you, willhallclients@gmail.com. If it is very time sensitive, also send me a text message to (413) 210-2803. I get many messages so please be persistent if you don’t hear back, and just send me another message as a reminder. (If short notice support is often important for you, let’s talk about different backup plans for people you can reach out to when I am not available.)

Can I contact you even if I haven’t seen you for a while?

Yes, please feel free to contact me, to just say hello, check in about how you are doing, schedule a session, or if you are in need of connecting on short notice. Change isn’t a simple one-way process and sometimes we need to revisit support or get a renewal of work we’ve done. You may also find yourself in a new place with new challenges I might help with.

Can I send you emails between sessions?

Yes, and writing can often itself be helpful. I do my best to read the emails people send, but we may need to wait until we meet in person, when we can go over the email together.

What if I am worried about being a burden or too demanding?

I’ve been doing this work for many years and am very good with not overextending myself with people reaching out to communicate. If I am not available I will let you know. So please feel free to reach out whenever you need to.

Can we meet by text message?

Yes, I am happy to meet in whatever format works best for you; personally I have had times when texting felt more comfortable or safer and I could express myself better, so I understand if your preference is to text.

What are your credentials?

My work has been widely recognized in the international community of alternative approaches to psychosis and mental illness. My interest and inspiration arises from my own experience of recovery from psychosis, not any professional licensing as a psychotherapist or psychologist. I work in a tradition outside of the psychotherapy industry or behavioral health system.

I am a counselor, coach, and consultant with a Masters Degree in counseling. I have extensive experience in mental health recovery, a two year certification in Open Dialogue from the Institute for Dialogic Practice, a Diploma in Process Work, am a certified WRAP facilitator and NADA ear acupuncturist, and have many years experience as a group facilitator and trainer. I’ve also done some training at the California Institute for Integral Studies and the Hakomi Institute.

I am not part of the mainstream psychotherapy or psychology professions and do not offer psychotherapy or psychological treatment. I do not prescribe or diagnose, do not conduct psychological assessment, and am not a medical doctor; I do not believe in the traditional medical or psychological framework of ‘treatment’ for ‘disorders.’ While I did consider licensing as a psychotherapist, and completed three years of psychotherapy training, I concluded that the licensing process is an obstacle to the ways I know best to help people, and that I don’t want to identify with a licensed professional system that, while helpful for some, is also widely hurtful to many.

My work is based on shared inquiry into mutual human experience. Everyone has expertise in being human; my job is to help you overcome obstacles to following the knowledge and wisdom you already have.

What is the difference between “counseling,” “coaching,” and “consulting?”

The psychology industry makes sharp distinctions between these terms, but because I don’t see people as pathologies or disorders I use them interchangeably with people I work with. I do not always focus on emotions and will frequently help a person problem-solve a practical situation in their life. I often work with people about fulfilling their potential, exploring creativity, or expanding their joy, not just overcoming their suffering. My work is directed by the goals of the people I work with, not any professional assessment of a diagnosis or disorder.

Are sessions confidential?

My sessions are completely confidential. Working together means you have my commitment not to reveal any information without your express permission. If I work with your family I remain confidential between who I am working with; I don’t reveal anything discussed. I do not follow or align with any mandatory or legal disclosure requirements associated with the medical or psychotherapeutic professions. I do sometimes work with sensitive situations such as abuse, crime, professional reputation, violence, and family conflict, and it is vital that people are free to speak and not be alone with these situations.

If you would like to use PGP encryption to contact me about privacy concerns around working together, please email me anonymously and access my public encryption key here.

Do you help people come off psychiatric medications?

I am not a prescriber or medical provider, but I do often work with people coming off and reducing psychiatric medications. Coming off meds is a life change process, not a medical procedure; there is no single way to approach relating to any psychoactive substance, including psychiatric medications, and you cannot control emotion and consciousness response through dosage or withdrawal “protocols.” Even the best doctors or psychiatrist will have very different opinions about pharmacology and medications, and so it is vital for people to cultivate their own ability to guide the process. My role in coming off medications is to help you develop that ability to guide yourself. I am not pro- or anti-medications, but take a harm reduction approach that is flexible to each person’s needs considering the very significant risks posed both by medication and sometimes by emotional extremes. Check my coming off meds page for more info.

How successful is your work with people?

I believe the ways people grow and change are mysterious. “How do we overcome suffering” or “how do we find joy” are deeply personal questions that humans have been asking since we became human. My own understanding of what “helped” me is complicated and even changing. I do this work because people report it is helpful and useful to them (you can take a look at my Testimonials page for some quotes from people), and because I feel a strong personal inspiration to be of service in this way for my livelihood. I also see my work as an ongoing learning, and I am always open to change in how I do what I do.

People I work with often return to work and school, restore relationships or make needed relationship changes, avoid hospitalization, come off medications, overcome abusive situations, reignite creative passion, deepen their sexuality, resolve conflicts, live more independently, find relief from their suffering, and discover pathways to their joy. If my work can help people achieve any of this it is a great privilege to be of service, but ultimately each person must discover for themselves how and why they have grown and changed in life.

In working together I will often ask you what is meaningful, helpful, or useful to you, and I encourage you to take that as an invitation to help me with my own learning, so we can adjust how we are working together. I believe that in life we are all teachers for each other.

What is your counseling philosophy?

The Heart and Soul of Change research says there are three elements to successful therapy: the quality of the relationship; the confidence of the therapist in whatever approach they are using; and the ability of the therapist to accept and incorporate feedback from the person they are working with.

I believe the power to change, heal, and grow is natural in all living organisms, including humans. Life is always an actively expansive process of moving towards fulfillment. Self-perception and stance in social context are determinant, and if a close relationship of trust and listening can orient towards change, it will result in change.

If a session doesn’t feel helpful, I assume that it is something that I need to do differently — not a problem with the person I am with. Please let me know and we can explore what is happening and how to address it. In the past I have done additional follow up sessions to address something I missed. And I certainly am not interested in charging for work that is not useful to the person.

Do you promote holistic health?

I am a certified NADA acupuncturist and longtime practitioner of holistic health. I do not believe that emotional problems can be reduced to holistic health imbalances in a simplistic manner, but I do frequently counsel people about holistic health basics that might contribute to their wellbeing. Whether or not supplements, nutrition, and lifestyle changes are helpful depends on the person. My own experience is this: holistic healthcare helps sometimes, but not always. Changing the food I eat, taking some basic supplements (fish oil, B vitamins, probiotic digestion support), and seeing acupuncturists and homeopaths have all be important to my own wellbeing, but I don’t assume this is for everyone.

I believe the key factors that need to be addressed are people’s life experiences, emotions, relationships, and problems with living. If you are oppressed, without a voice, and traumatized, the right food and supplements won’t make much of a difference. Often people find holistic health helpful because it means they are making an empowered and pro-active step towards change. I focus on that empowerment. Whether the person adopts holistic health practices, spiritual practices, goes back to school, makes relationship changes – it is the empowerment, and the emotions and meaning around it, that are most important.

Do you believe individual counseling is right for everyone?

I want everyone to have the social connection and resources in their lives to be supported by their community, not reliant on therapy. I often encourage people to come into sessions with people they are related to, based on my group and family training with Open Dialogue and other approaches, to help them find those resources of support. My goal is to get people back to their own capacities. I am also actively involved in promoting community-based and peer alternatives to the often isolating and sometimes harmful approaches of individual western psychology, and also offering classes, seminars, and educational opportunities like my radio show and medication guide. Ultimately I believe in a community development approach based on group connection, mutual learning, ritual, and public social change.

At the same time I have seen many people benefit from individual and group or family counseling sessions, and I myself have found individual therapy helpful at times (though I do wish I had family sessions, which might have helped me even more).

What is your spiritual perspective?

I grew up with agnostic, Bohemian parents who encouraged me to figure things out on my own, while also, through cultural background, conveying deep religious values within me. My father’s family is Southern Baptist and he considered being a minister when he was younger; I grew up around books by Billy Graham and Fulton Sheen. My dad was a supporter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, holds outspoken views about integration and civil rights, and believes in an ethic of caring rooted in his Christianity. My mother is the proud carrier of indigenous ancestry and gave me great pride in my Choctaw Indian heritage, and she taught me to embrace the magic of the universe. Both my parents helped me become open to mystical and paranormal experiences that would become so threatening to me later in life, but also offer pathways for growth. I do not identify with any organized or institutional religion or practice, but am broadly indigenous in my worldview.

In my practice I have the privilege of welcome of diversity of religious and spiritual perspectives, as well as people who do not have a spiritual view. I have worked with people who are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, pagan, existentialist, secular, still figuring things out, escaping mistreatment in traditional religious institutions, and people discovering new religious beliefs within them. I welcome you bringing your deepest beliefs and practices into our work together, and have a deep respect for how each individual relates to human life.

Whatever language we use, any philosophical and spiritual beliefs always ask How should I live as a human with other humans on this earth? I have tremendous gratitude for my ancestors; I carry with me their hopes and dreams as I seek to be of service to this world.

What is your activist perspective?

I have embraced nonviolence since I was a teenager and first heard Petra Kelly, founder of the West German Green Party , speak at a conference in San Francisco. I believe in nonviolence as an intimate as well as social practice, which works on the small interactions of daily life as well as larger institutional changes. “Nonviolence” is in many ways just another way to say action for love, compassion, and forgiveness. I am a strong opponent of war, racism, and poverty as the three great moral problems of our time. I strongly believe in revitalizing our democracy to reflect the promise of its origins, by ending today’s widespread political corruption by monied interests. At the same time I believe in a nonviolent ethic of humanizing our opponents as reflections of ourselves, and seeing conflict as a challenge to personal change and responsibility. I’ve been involved for many years in community development, psychiatric survivor, and recovery movement work.