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Sexual
Awareness,  Nurturing  &  Empowerment

Anna Valenti-Anderson

Anna Valenti-Anderson
LCSW, LISAC, CSAT Supervisor, CMAT
Arizona




Therapy ~
EMDR ~ Consulting

(623) 695-0064

Ask Anna

Q:  Do you have a Mission Statement?
Q:  Who are your typical clients?

Q:  What kind of therapy do you do?
Q:  What do you charge and do you take any insurance?
Q:  Do you take walk-ins?
Q:  Do you make house calls?
Q:  Do you take crisis calls? What about meetings?
Q:  What if I  just want to be happy!

Q:  How did I get to be addicted or
mentally ill?
Q:  Is my problem that I just don't have enough will power?

Q:  Do I have to spend the rest of my life in therapy?
Q:  Why does it take so long to see results!?

Q:  What if I fail? What if I need something 
more?
Q:  What if I'm not ready for therapy?

Q:  I'm afraid that I'll die if I don't ...

Q:  I'm afraid I'll die if I'm alone.

Q:  What does recovery mean? 

Q:  What is EMDR?

Q:  What is Somatic Consciousness
?


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Q:  Do you have a Mission Statement?
A: 
To help individuals, couples and families live more self-esteeming and self-healing lives by improving wellness of the mind, body and spirit.

My Values Statement is that I believe every person has a right to opportunities for health, to heal past trauma, define realistic goals, and change hurtful patterns of behavior. My goal is to remain encouraging and realistically flexible, while utilizing an eclectic range of treatment methodologies such as psychoeducation and “carefrontational” support of experiential learning. Success is created from a collaborative exploration of goals, setting priorities, diligent effort and continued patience.

Who are your typical clients?
A: 
Each person, couple or family who comes to see me is different! Of course, there are some similar issues that bring clients to my door specifically. Although I do treat individuals for general depression, anxiety, grief and addictions, the majority of my practice is devoted to sexual and relationship concerns, intimacy disorders and healthy dating and sexuality. My adult clients come individually, as half of a partnership, or part of a family.

Q:  What kind of therapy do you do?
A: 
Licensed as a Clinical Social Worker, Independent Substance Abuse Counselor, and having earned specialized certification as a Sex Addiction Therapist and Multiple Addictions Therapist, I am professionally considered a "psychotherapist" and use different ecclectic and EMDR therapy methods, aimed at the whole person. For instance, psychiatrists might use medication as their principal method of treatment, while I tend to look at all aspects of a person's unique experiences and how everything fits together. For example, if you go to a physician's office for the flu, you might receive "the prescribed" medication or shot, and general advice, and your doctor will also take in to consideration your own individual medcial history, allergies and unique needs. When you come in to my office we'll explore what fits for you and take in to consideration your own unique psychological, biomedical, social and emotional history and individual needs, wants and abilities are.

Q:  What do you charge and do you take any insurance?
A: 
My hourly fee as of 2014 is $225 for a 55-minute therapy session; however, please call for my most current rate. Also, although I can provide you with a receipt if you ask that you would submit to your own insurance company for out-of-network provider reimbursement, I do not file insurance directly and do not accept copays or assignment. I am also happy to coordinate with psychiatrists, physicians, teachers, attorneys or other professionals who are part of your support or treatment system. One of the primary reasons I don't take insurance is because I believe that our client-therapist relationship can be compromised when either of us is wondering what information will find its way in to some sort of Medical Information Database (such as your mental health diagnosis, assessments and evaluations on your progress and overall functioning, history of substance use or medication use, and communication about the number of session you attend with insurance case managers who authorize benefits). If you do decide to submit your sessions for reimbursement then please check with your insurance provider about what rights to confidentiality you may have given away.

Q:  Do you take walk-ins?
A: 
Because I don't publically advertise or market my services, and don't have a "sign out front" of my building, all clients are referred by other professionals, professional organizations, and word of mouth. When I get a phone call or email in the morning asking me for a same-day appointment, sometimes I am able to squeeze a new client in that evening, or the following day. I am generally in my office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Q:  Do you make house calls?
A: 
It depends on location and circumstance and is a case-by-case basis. For instance, if you are in a domestic violence situation then meeting you in the privacy of my office, comfort of your home or office, or other agreed upon location can be a way to support your safety. If you're homebound, have difficulty getting out of your home, or have acute anxiety, then you can may still be able to have access to psychotherapy without having to rely on others for transportation.

Q:  Do you take crisis calls? How about meetings?
A: 
Some established cleints have set up regularly scheduled phone contact and are charged for that time. It's important for clients to have an additional support network outside of therapy sessions as my practice is out-patient and individuals needing a higher level of care may find in-patient or residential support necessary. In case of an emotional crisis or life-threatening emergency please always dial 911.

Q:  What if I  just want to be happy!
A: 
That's a good goal!  And it's not impossible to be relatively happy or content "most" of the time. Happiness is more an "extra" result rather than a concrete destination. Life and therapy are journies, and require a comittment to stay the course, because both are rocky and you will likely fall down at times. What is enough for you may differ from what is enough for someone else because each person has their own level of "comfort" and "satisfaction" level. Expecting to be happy all the time and not experiencing times of pain, loneliness or sadness is usually unreasonable! So the question is really about how you are willing to learn to deal with the bumps, bruises and tragedy in your life. If you do things that bring you joy and satisfaction then you're likely to feel happier with yourself and life in general. If you do things that keep you stuck in helplessness (like self-sabatoging patterns of thought and behavior, or staying in a victim role) then you'll probably end up feeling less happy (pain, sad, angry, resentful, hopeless). A positive attitude helps, as well as a support system and doing something to promote healthy change.

Here are some really nice "Guidelines for Sane Living," by James Angel that I've minimally adapted.

Q:  Why do I keep making the same mistakes?
A: 
Sometimes we get stuck repeating harmful patterns (habits) when we haven't explored past losses and figured out the connections of our past to the present. The unresolved grief (anger, pain, etc.) then keeps us in negative beliefs about ourselves and the world ("I'm not enough" and "The world's not safe"). Healing involves challenging your beliefs (and expectations) and then learning new skills (indluding positive self-affirmations and relational communication) to move you toward creating the life you want (instead of repeating the life you've had).

Q:  How did I get to be addicted or mentally ill?
A: 
Most clinicians believe that becoming dependent on a chemical or behavior, or even sometimes experiencing mood swings (depression, anxiety), is a result of a combination of social, psychological or mental, and physical or genetic factors that interact with the personality of an indiviudual. Think about growning up as a mix of nature, nurture and habit. Trauma or less-than nurturing experiences also impact how we learn to cope with uncomfortable feelings. If you continue to "use" a pattern of behavior in spite of direct or indirect adverse consequences, then I'd urge you to seek help.

Mental illness is described by the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as "medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life."  Although there is misinformation and stigma about mental illness, we all probably know someone who as suffered or experienced bouts with major depression, anxiety, trauma and obsessions. These all can be part of the spectrum of mental illness or a psychiatric disorder.

Q:  Is my problem that I just don't have enough will power?
A: 
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has indicated that addiction is a brain disease that responds well to treatment. Research is continually providing a new and better understanding of how alcohol, tobacco, other chemical substances (drugs), and recognition now that gambling (and potentially similar) behaviors affect the brain.  Some people just need help to "get started" toward defining dreams, write out an action plan and encouragement to stay on track. For others, the chronic disease of addiction is much more difficult to treat and frequent slips and relapses occur. Of course nobody can make you choose health and even the best therapists cannot "force" you to change your thoughts and behaviors. And because change is a complex process and progresses in Stages, being minimally motivated to take the first step or be willing to consider the possibility of change is important and up to you. HBO produced an informative Addiction Series special and has a website about addiction basics (www.hbo.com/addiction).

Q:  Do I have to spend the rest of my life in therapy?
A: 
Sometimes longer-term support is useful for more serious or chronic issues. The October 1, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that revealed individuals receiving psychodynamic psychotherapy lasting a minimum of a year, or 50 sessions, experienced 96% better overall outcomes than shorter-term psychotherapy.Typically, individuals that benefit from longer therapy are interested in more insight-oriented exploration of connections between the past and present (in hopes to stop repeating harmful habits). Also, if there is a characterological disorder, Dual Diagnoses, need to change long-term habits, addressing addictions and life changes, longer term therapy is more effective than short-term or "brief therapy" that has gained popularity. Some people come to therapy or personal enhancement coaching for specific reasons and for a limited amount of time (maybe six sessions of psychoeducation to get back on track, or a short-term group, for instance). Some people come several times a year whenever they want a "boost" or to check-in (or enroll in a 4-month group) after their initial "improvement" therapy. Some people want help in re-focusing and come back after being gone for awhile. I see clients weekly, every other week, once a month, every few months, or as best works for the client, from 55 minutes to four hours as needed. Some clients come in to see me once or twice a year and stay in contact through email and phone calls.

Q:  Why does it take so long to see results!?
A: 
Actually, some concerns can be managed quickly within a few sessions if there aren't other issues involved (goal-setting for example). EMDR used in conjunction with psycotherapy can sometimes be useful in 6 to 12 sessions depending on the nature of the concern. As a culture, though, we have come to expect time to compress in to unrealistic "right now" immediacy. We want the Quick Fix the Cure Pill and the Therapy Miracle Hour. Think about how impatient you may have felt when the traffic light takes 30 seconds to change or the computer takes a minute to boot up or the checkout line takes five minutes. As individuals, we have become impatient, anxious and always needing to be "doing" something or receiving the benefits of what we're doing "now", rather than being able to focus on the future benefits, or long-range goals, or being more patient with our process and less focused on immediate gratification. We also are impatient with others, wanting them to change quickly. This translates to wanting recovery NOW, and becoming frustrated with how slow the results may take at times. I've heard many times from clients that  they wanted to work the steps in 12 weeks and be cured. Recovery, healing and treatment/therapy just don't usually work that way. Sometimes individuals can experience some emotional relief just by stopping doing the things that increase anxiety, depression and chaos. More often, individuals will take one step forward and two steps back and continue to experince some drama now and then depending on what happens in their lives. And of course, it's easy to become disappointed and cynical of the recovery or therapy process. One key to overcoming this negativity is to continue writing a gratitute list and to focus on the total progress made over time.

Q:  What if I fail? What if I need something more?
A: 
Most people "fail" when they challenge themselves to do something in their lives. Think about tests in school, taking a driving test, learning to play a sport. Most people have "failed" something. The key is to keep going and not give up entirely. Sometimes we're afraid of success, too. It's helpful to focus on the benefits for accomplishing a goal. Think, "What are the long-term benefits if I succeed?" And yes, this will require you to keep going and getting up when you fall down, and sometimes having to grieve a loss of something familiar or someome that you have held dear to your heart. A person cannot really fail "at" therapy because it is a constant learning process. Sometimes though, more intensive work might be necesary to prepare for, or help with, out-patient therapy. Workshops, Weekend or Week Intensives, Sober Living Houses or Intensive Out-Patient work are all additional and commonly used resources. Sometimes in-patient or residential living is necessary. If any of these might be useful we can discuss and explore these options together.

Q:  What if I'm not ready for therapy?
A: 
Everyone processes at their own pace. Sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. Although there's no judgment about the speed at which a client is expected to go, if unhelpful behaviors stay unchanged then negative consequences likely will remain. Defenses were critical coping tools in the past and can't be miraculously zapped away. In therapy you'll receive some suggestions about how to replace old methods of coping and support as you practice the new tools. You'll be asked to think, think differently, feel, and do some things differently. I will encourage and carefront; however, your healing is really up to you ... to follow-through with treatment recommendations and stay in your recovery process. I've had clients leave because they weren't ready to change themselves yet, and then come back when they are. That's okay.

Q:  I'm afraid that I'll die if I don't ... .
A: 
That's a normal reaction when you're dependent on anything to take away uncomfortable feelings. Most people really need to learn how to be okay with themselves, intimate with another person, and have healthy touch experiences. For sex addicts, whether alone or in a partnership, I suggest a temporary period of celibacy, which always brings up anxiety. To which I say, "Well, if you can't say no, then you can't choose yes!"

Q:  I'm afraid I'll die if I'm alone.
A: 
When you're left by someone (through separation, divorce or death), you'll absolutely have feelings of sadness (pain and loneliness) or fear about being "abandoned." Some of the feelings are normal  grief reactions to loss or expected loss. You may also feel anger and fear. You will not die from the uncomfortable feelings. It will be important, however, to process your grieving instead of stuffing or avoiding, or jumping in to harmful behaviors (chemicals or sex or a relationship) to numb the discomfort.  For some people they experience significant emotional discomfort when alone and might want to look at what has become known as "love addiction" (relationship dependence).

Q:  What does recovery mean?
A: 
The PROCESS of recovery can be thought of as learning to live a life of balance without resorting to escape from discomfort through harmful or less-than nurturing behaviors. It involves time and hard work; especially on the front end. It's not unusual to experience a lot of ups and downs in the first two to five years. Withdrawal is acute and post-acute. A period of time must be spent "sober" from using one's "drug of choice." Unfortunately, there are many ways of medicating feelings and avoiding what's real. Most people are capable of switching addictions and unhealthy ways of coping (I won't drink, but I'll ...). Part of recovery also involves looking at the relational-emotional issues that may have contributed to "needing" the drug or behavior. And of course, healing and managing the damage that's been done to oneself and others takes energy, time and expense. I wish I could give clients a "get happy and make everything better" pill. I can't. And I can't force anyone to stay sober or in recovery.

Q:  What is EMDR?
A: 
EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a tool that some therapists use in conjunction with traditional psycotherapy. EMDR is an integrative approach that has been used to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and has also been used with individuals suffering from phobias, panic disorders, pain control and addictions.

Q: What is Somatic Consciousness?
A:  Somatization generally refers to when a person's psychological discomfort is expressed in the body as a physical complaint (two common examples are: I'm stressed at work and I get a headache, I'm afraid of talking in front of an audience and get diarrhea, or I'm feeling butterflies in my stomach as I think about ..."). Somatic is a Greek word that means relating to the body and consciousness is really about being aware. Thus, "Somatic Consciousness" is just a fancy term to describe how you can become more mindful and present in your body, to your visceral sensations and feelings. When you learn to be yourself, to be genuine and really IN the moment, you can observe and participate in your process without becoming emotionally overwhelmed.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A:  In my spare time I enjoy hiking, biking, taking leisurly walks, bowling, playing tennis, watching movies, eating good food, relaxing at home, reading, writing and visiting with friends and family. I have written books of poetry and prose titled "Forever in Freefall" ©1992, and "Living on the lLedge" ©1997. I also wrote the lyrics and some music for my first CD titled "God is Calling You" ©1997. And one of my "fun" accomplishments was being honored with the title of Sierra Vista Junior Miss in 1981.


Email Anna

  2400 E. Arizona Biltmore Circle | Bldg. 4, Ste. 2430
Phoenix, AZ  85016


Serving Phoenix and Surrounding Areas.


In the case of a LIFE-THREATENING
emergency ALWAYS call 911 first.







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