How do I know if I really need to see a counselor?

We all need a fresh voice in our lives from time to time.  Maybe you are struggling with a loss, trying to overcome a daunting challenge, or seeking guidance on a future decision.  A counselor can help you understand better why you do what you do and how to best steer yourself in the direction you most want to go.  If we do not find a safe outlet to explore and understand our grief, pain, hopes, and dreams then we typically isolate and ultimately wither.  I urge you NOT to surrender your identity and worth so easily. If you have grown quiet, let me help you find your voice again.  Maybe you have withdrawn from the world, let me help you re-engage. Perhaps you have lost the ability to dream of better days, let me help you rediscover hope.


What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?

Talking with an objective third party as opposed to family or friends has some distinct advantages.  When processing with people that we are intimately involved, we tend to censor or manage our thoughts and emotions in an effort to minimize disruption to the relationship.  In counseling, you can speak freely without hesitation or concern for the backlash from unfiltered honesty. Counselors listen without judgment and ask questions that help clients sort through the raw material they excavate in counseling. While friends and family often focused on helping you find a quick solution or explanation, a good counselor will take the time to help you identify probable causes, implement effective coping skills and inspire new perspectives and possibilities.


If I commit to counseling, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of counseling?

The ultimate goal of counseling is to apply what you learn in sessions to your life.  If you commit to honest reflection and resolve to change what you can, you will quickly see a difference in your internal reality and eventually in your experience of the external world. Your progress will depend greatly on your personal investment in the process.  The more attention you give to your personal growth and healing, the better you will become.  At times you may be encouraged to journal your thoughts and feelings, listen to a podcast, read a book or engage in self-care activities to promote progress, but the decision to participate will always be yours to make.[/expand]


How long can I expect each session to last?

I offer 55-minute sessions.  The number of sessions needed to address your needs will depend on the intensity and volume of issues you bring to counseling.  I may suggest a minimum number of sessions but would help you to determine the ideal plan and schedule of counseling.


How does it work? What happens in a session?

When you schedule your first appointment, you will print out the client forms on my website and bring them to our first session completed. These forms will provide me with some initial information about you, and give you some additional information about the counseling process.

In our first session, it will be important to answer some preliminary questions regarding your personal story and what has brought you to Sparrow Counseling, LLC. Coming to a shared understanding of expectations and goals for sessions is helpful in determining the pace and approach that would work best for you and the issues you identify as pressing.  I will typically pose questions to give some direction and structure to our time together, and at the conclusion of each session, we will review our progress and agree on appropriate action steps.[/expand]


Will my sessions be confidential?

Absolutely.  Confidentiality is crucial for a productive, safe counseling relationship. Confidentiality creates a space for vulnerability and honesty, which are prerequisites for growth and healing.  I will hold all you disclose in our sessions in strict confidence unless (1) you direct me to tell someone else and you sign a “Release of Information” form; (2) I determine that you are a danger to yourself or to others; (3) you report information about the abuse of a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual who may require protection; or (4)  A judge orders me to disclose information; Finally, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC) under the supervision of H. Hobart Grooms, M. Div, MEd, LPC-S, LMFT-S, Supervising Counselor.


How do I schedule an appointment?

You can call 205-538-3978.  If I do not answer, please leave a message on my confidential voicemail. I will return your call as soon as possible. You can also send me an email at requesting an appointment.


What if I need to cancel my appointment?

If you need to cancel your appointment, please do so at least 24 hours before your scheduled session time. Otherwise, you will be responsible for the full fee.  There is a cancellation policy on my forms page for you to read and sign as well.

What is the difference between a counselor and a psychiatrist?

A counselor's training helps people articulate their struggles and assist them through difficult seasons and situations in life.  They focus more on providing support and direction for common life issues like relationship conflicts, identity crises, depression, recovery, etc.  Psychiatrists specialize in the treatment of severe mental issues and are authorized to prescribe psychiatric medications since they are medical doctors.


How do I know if I should take medication?

That is a decision for you to make with guidance from your doctor and psychiatrist.  They have the training and authority to advise you on what is best for your health and happiness on those particular treatment options. However, it is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems often requires more than medication. While medication can help manage symptoms, counseling addresses the root of our brokenness and provides new perspectives on old behaviors. I believe that long-term stability and growth are best achieved with an integrative approach that includes counseling and medication as needed.


What is Parenting Coordination?

Parenting Coordination is a non-confidential, child-centered process for conflicted divorced and divorcing parents. It is a form of dispute resolution for parents in which mediation would be inappropriate or ineffective due to high levels of parental conflict. The overall emphasis is to offer children the opportunity to grow in a home environment free from the devastating stress of being caught in the middle of parental conflict.  Through education, mediation and case management, the family’s progress is monitored to ensure that parents are fulfilling their obligations to their child while complying with the recommendations of the court. With prior approval of the parties and/or the Court, the Parenting Coordinator may make temporary decisions, within the scope of the court order or appointment contract, to help high-conflict parents who have demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own.

What is Co-Parenting Counseling?

Co-parenting counseling helps parents who are separating, separated, divorcing or divorced understand better how to care for their children as their marriage is in distress or dissolving completely.  Divorce can be very traumatic for the children involved. Co-parenting counseling can help parents discern what is best for their children during a disruptive and difficult time in their family.  Co-parenting counseling can assist with logistics like visitation schedules and parameters as well as healthy coping mechanisms and communication.


What do you charge for Parenting Coordination?

Please click on the link provided here to my rates and fees page.


Do you accept insurance?

I do not accept insurance at this time.

If you are unable to pay the stated amount, please bring that to my attention so that I can work with you.

What is Divorce Mediation and how does it work?

Mediation during a divorce is a way to find solutions to issues without litigation. Litigation can often be costly, time-consuming and emotionally taxing on the family. In mediation, the parties have more power and control of how to divide assets and setting up a parenting plan. In litigation, the parties lose their power and the judge decides their future. Mediation is a confidential process. Each party can have a lawyer present at the mediation to represent their best interest. In Alabama, if there has been a restraining order placed on a party due to domestic violence the mediator must have an extra 14-hours of domestic violence training. I have been through that training. Mediation may be a safer avenue for divorcing parties with domestic violence to participate in, simply because litigation is often so contentious many believe that mediation will protect victims more.[/expand]


Why would a divorcing couple choose a counselor over a lawyer to be their mediator?

I believe it depends on the issues. If there are a lot of complicated financial assets a lawyer may be the better choice. However, if the main issues are child custody and parenting plans then a counselor with experience in working with divorcing or divorced families may better serve this couple to help them see what emotional issues to think about in terms of their children.[/expand]


Why did you name your practice Sparrow Counseling?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

This verse inspired not only the name of my practice, Sparrow Counseling, but the mission as well. It is my goal and heart's desire to help people understand their value amidst even their deepest, darkest struggles. Jesus gently commands us to not be afraid. He reminds us that even the sparrow is taken care of daily and He will most certainly not forget us as we are worth far more to Him.