Counseling with Sara
~ Balance ~ Connection ~ Hope ~
Sara Fender, M.A.
Professional Counselor Associate
P.O. Box 316
Canby, Oregon 97013
What is a Professional Counselor Associate (PCA)?
Professional Counselor Associate (PCA) is the title assigned by the state of Oregon regulatory agency (OBLPCT) that oversees some types of professional mental health counselors and therapists. A Professional Counselor Associate is a person who has completed the master's level education needed to work as a mental health counselor but has not yet met the minimum required counseling hours (2400 hours in Oregon) to be fully licensed by the state. PCAs work independently, but receive ongoing supervision from a clinical professional who helps oversee work with clients. PCAs may also be called "Registered Associates" and used to be called "Licensed Professional Counselor Interns/LPC Interns" until the OBLPCT issued a regulatory name change in August 2021.
Do you accept insurance?
At this time, I do not bill insurance. Most insurance plans only accept counselors with several years of post-licensure experience.
Are there benefits to cash pay (not billing insurance)?
Yes! There are a number of benefits to cash pay, even if you have insurance:
You have more freedom in choosing a counselor that is a good fit for you (no "in-network" worries)
You can receive counseling services for needs that aren't "billable" to insurance, such as relationship concerns, communication needs, or a variety of other personal issues
I will not be required to assign a mental health diagnosis that is a part of your medical record
The total number of sessions and session frequency will not be dictated by your insurance company
You will have more flexibility in creating your goals for counseling
Why are your fees lower than some other counselors?
It is common for Professional Counselor Associates to charge lower rates than their fully licensed counterparts. It is also common for some clinicians in private practice to charge reduced rates when taking private pay (not billing insurance). Many licensed counselors charge a higher rate and bill insurance, but only a portion of their fee is paid by insurance companies. Lastly, making my services affordable to as many people as possible is a fundamental value that drives my business practice.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you need to cancel a session, please do so at least 24 hours in advance, when possible. Sessions cancelled with less than 24-hour notice may be charged up to the full session rate, depending on the nature of the circumstances. You can phone me, text me, or email me about cancellation and rescheduling. Any notice is better than no notice, and no-shows more often result in an assessed fee than do late cancellations.
What will counseling be like with you?
My counseling techniques and interventions vary, based on the best fit for your needs. I keep a primary focus on the quality of the relationship between counselor and client. Not only does this align with my beliefs about people and the healing power of relationship, studies show it is this factor over any other theory or technique that predicts "success" in counseling. Generally speaking, I use a holistic approach that aims to balance and/or strengthen the connection between the head (thinking and beliefs/values), the heart (feeling), the gut (the body), and, if the client so chooses, the soul (spirituality). I emphasize the influence of our thoughts and our ability to choose, the need for connection and meaning in our lives, the power of hope, and a focus on strengths. I hold all of this with the recognition that outside factors beyond our control affect our circumstances.
For other professionals or potential clients looking for more technical terms of what I described above, I aim to be first and foremost client-centered, and approach the therapeutic relationship from an attachment perspective. I use a trauma-informed approach. My primary theoretical orientation is Contemporary Adlerian Theory, which integrates well with a variety of other interventions and techniques. I often incorporate themes and tools from Third Wave Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies, Psychoeducation, Neuropsychology, Family Systems Theory, and Narrative Therapy.
I don't know if I want to do counseling virtually (teletherapy)?
There are several terms for providing counseling services electronically: virtual therapy, teletherapy, telehealth services, distance counseling, video therapy, online counseling, etc. When the COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020, I was feeling uncertain about offering services virtually. While I had participated in a basic telehealth training, it hadn't interested me. I was concerned that the Client-Counselor connection would be difficult to establish and maintain, and that counseling might be ineffective.
After nearly two years in virtual mode, I can tell you that I was wrong. The majority of my clients report that teletherapy is effective. Just as happens in-person, we establish a relationship, we work together, and progress happens. It takes some getting used to (and some patience with technical glitches). The majority of my current clients prefer to stay in virtual services and recent studies show that the vast majority of people prefer it. That being said, teletherapy is not for everyone. There are some circumstances where teletherapy is not beneficial or not possible. If you are uncertain or doubtful, but are open to the possibility of teletherapy, please contact me. We can try it out via a free consultation, or I can try to answer any questions you may have on initial inquiry.
Can you tell me anything more about yourself as a person?
I am a born and raised Oregonian, and prefer the open spaces of the countryside over the buzz of the city. Some of my interests include gardening, cooking, health and wellness, reading historical fiction, watching college football, camping and the outdoors, and compelling TV series. I am a wife and a mom. I enjoy time with others, hanging out with my dog, as well as time alone.
How do you view spirituality? How does this affect my counseling?
I grew up in the Christian tradition. I have found my faith to be both the foundation and the driving force behind my love for people and my desire to provide acceptance, compassion, and understanding to each person I enounter in my counseling work.
While my personal faith is an important part of my life, I recognize that there are a multitude of perspectives within and outside of the Christian faith. I combine this personal perspective with my professional ethical responsibility to not impose my beliefs on others as well as honor the beliefs of my clients. It is for these reasons that I leave the option of spiritual integration up to you. Some people want to incorporate aspects of their spiritual life into counseling, while others (whether or not they have a spiritual tradition or practices) choose to leave it out. I ask a general question about spirituality on the intake form to get an idea of your preference. As with any topic or direction in counseling, you always reserve the right to change your mind after this initial decision.
Are you available for emergencies or unexpected crisis?
I am not available for 24-hour emergency crisis intervention. If you or your child experiences a mental health emergency, please do one of the following
Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
Call the Clackamas County Mental Health Crisis Line at (503) 655-8585 or your local county crisis line.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (Previously and still usable (800) 273-8255)
Text HOME to 741741 to the Crisis Text Line
If you are an existing client, you can contact me once you are safe. This can be to check-in, update me on your situation, and potentially move your upcoming appointment to an earlier date.