Answered by Dr. Ali Iverson (Schilling)
How do I know if you are a good fit for me?
If there is anything we know from the research on how effective counseling is – it all comes back to the importance of the therapeutic relationship. Essentially – that means you have to feel like you have a reliable and trustworthy professional relationship with your counselor. You have to feel comfortable talking to him or her and exploring what might be keeping you stuck. Because I am fully aware of the importance of this relationship – I offer a free consultation where we meet to see if we would work well together.
How long does counseling take?
For my political answer - it really comes down to every individual is different and depends on the severity of symptoms or the type of therapy you are seeking. In my practice, I take a more structured approach when discussing the number of sessions. Generally, I recommend completing the intake and 3 weekly follow-up sessions. After this time, we will discuss what treatment will look like moving forward. On average – counseling will last anywhere from 6-20 sessions, depending on your needs.
Like, who are you and why should I trust you?
I think this is the question everyone thinks but, often, feels too polite to ask – which is why I am including it here! I am originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Arizona in early 2000’s to complete my undergraduate and graduate education. From 2014 to 2016 I lived in Colorado gaining experience in an integrated care and large clinic setting. I moved back to Arizona in October of 2016 and started my private practice. I have two young girls and I enjoy anything outdoors (rock climbing, hiking, swimming!)
In college; I enjoyed reading books about personal growth and development, and I started to apply several of the principles I learned to my own life. I sought counseling and my life transformed. Initially, I had planned on attending medical school and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Microbiology; however, I decided to switch my focus to psychology after embracing my passion for psychological treatment. Having experienced, firsthand, the power of the therapy process, I am confident individualized treatment can improve wellbeing and functioning of everyone!
Regarding trust – I consider a certain degree of skepticism healthy. Ideally, trust can develop as you feel more comfortable with the therapeutic process and my treatment approach.
Do you have experience?
I saw my first therapy client in 2011. Before then, I worked as a psychometrist (I administered psychological tests), an academic adviser, yoga teacher and life coach. I started my current private practice in November of 2016. I am generally trained – I have facilitated support groups for individuals with cancer diagnoses, treated individuals and couples in an outpatient setting, administered neuropsychological assessments, and worked in a primary care doctor’s office (treating psychological aspects of chronic diseases - such as diabetes - and relating mental health symptoms – like anxiety and depression). My specialty is working with anxiety and co-occurring disorders (pretty much anything that occurs with anxiety).
What type of therapy do you practice?
I use an eclectic approach, meaning I pull from a number of theoretical orientations depending on the needs of the patient. Primarily – I focus on an Acceptance and Commitment therapy approach. The overall goal in this type of therapy is to live a more fulfilling life while learning to manage the thoughts and negative emotions that come along with it. I also focus heavily in Jungian (individuation process) and psychodynamic approaches in addition to cognitive behavioral and mindfulness based therapies.
I do what I like to call “comprehensive counseling” (yes… I made up that term, but it sounds nice, right?). What I mean by this is I focus on the following ares:
Psychological factors: Here, we will explore topics such as values clarification, identifying core beliefs/scripts and schemas which affect your life, how you relate to your thoughts, personality aspects driving your behavior, archetypes, thought patterns, stress management.
Lifestyle Factors: Relevant lifestyle factors include sleep quality, exercise, diet, support system, how often you avoid events or feelings, use of distraction, and so on. We are learning more and more about how nutrition affects mental health. So much so there is a journal dedicated to this (Nutritional Neuroscience)!
Biological Factors: Wonder why my practice is called BrainBody? – It is because you can’t really separate these two! Your brain and body are actually one in the same – but we like to separate them out based on the specialization of our professionals. I can’t address all biological factors as a psychologist (e.g. blood work to determine hormone or vitamin levels) – but we will discuss it and determine based on symptoms presentation what type of intervention is needed (referrals are provided if needed). Biological factors I do address include activation of the nervous system (and ways to activate your calming nervous system) and explanations of neuroanatomy/neurophysiology associated with symptoms. I utilize biofeedback to help you learn to hijack your nervous system functioning (and see what is going on biologically) to optimize its functioning.
What is this biofeedback stuff? Do I have to pay more?
Biofeedback essentially means we will be looking at some measure of biology (heart rate, temperature, brain waves) on a computer screen while practicing skills. By doing this, you can learn ways to improve control over your autonomic nervous system. This is incredibly helpful in learning to manage anxiety and other strong emotions that tend to feel overpowering. I integrate biofeedback into my session - there is no change in cost. However, many insurances do not cover biofeedback unless there is a medical indication - something we can discuss further during the consultation session.
Want to know more? Contact Me!
"Counseling addressing multiple domains of wellness is essential to treat the whole person - the BrainBody."
Ali Iverson, Psy.D.