General Questions

How do you know when it is time to get support?

When you want to:

  • Reduce, manage, or eliminate anxiety, depression, grief, unresolved hurt
  • Strengthen your relationship as a couple, improve communication, restore trust, learn to treat your partner or spouse as the apple of your eye
  • Heal relationships with parents, family members, siblings, friends, coworkers
  • Resolve, forgive and let go of past: regrets, estrangements, damage from affairs
  • Manage transitions with “empty nest”, career, family, adult children or grandchildren who need to move out
  • Feel empowered to make changes at home, work, or within yourself
  • Grieve and resolve the loss of a  beloved family member, horse, or pet
  • Own and celebrate your place in the LGBT Community
Do you accept insurance or Medicare or offer a sliding fee scale?


What are the ages or mental health issues that you do not treat?
  • I do not treat children and adolescents
  • I do not treat adults actively abusing drugs or alcohol (you must complete detox and rehab first, have a recovery plan in place, and a commitment to sobriety from all substances in order to be ready to see me for therapy)
  • I do not treat clients with eating disorders
  • I do not treat victims or perpetrators of sexual assault, domestic violence, or crimes
  • I do not treat clients who participate in polyamory or BDSM
  • I do not treat clients seeking evaluations for DUI or long term disability
  • I do not treat clients seeking help coping with long term or complex medical issues
How do I get started if I want to come for therapy?

Call me and make an appointment.

Do you offer a free consultation to see if we are a “good fit”?

No. The initial session is a thorough mental health assessment that takes 90 minutes. My assessment covers: your current situation; mental health symptoms; an overview of past issues; history of family, substance use, medical, legal, counseling; your support system; and a discussion and initial plan of how we can best proceed together. If you feel that the services for what ever reason are not a good fit for you, I can refer you to trusted colleagues.

How long will I be in individual therapy?

There are no short cuts in good therapy. Ideally, therapy is finished when you are feeling better, doing well, and have met the goals you set.  For example, most clients come once a week for 6-18 months. To maintain the gains they have made, many clients attend ongoing sessions through group therapy, workshops, or weekend retreats. Each person is unique so this is just an example; some come to therapy more often, some less.

Couples Counseling Questions

What can I expect from couple’s therapy?

Successful couple’s therapy requires that both people want to be in therapy and are committed to and actively engaged in the process. Sessions are weekly at first, they last 90 minutes and generally continue for about a year. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes in couples therapy. Couples therapy takes time and effort individually and as a couple. Most of my couples attend sessions together as well as separately unless there is an issue involved that I do not treat such as active substance use or eating disorders for example. Most couples benefit from individual as well as couples therapy during the process. I guard each person’s privacy during individual sessions but I will not “keep secrets”. Couples therapy helps with things like: communication skills; rebuilding trust and intimacy after cheating, dishonesty, illness or addictions; getting to forgiveness; resolving co-dependence and building independence; improving your sex life; defining better division of labor; resolving old hurts; learning how to treat your partner or spouse as the apple of your eye.

What if as a couple, we “just need a break” or want to separate?

In my experience as a counselor, couples counseling works best when done within the couple-ship. Separations without a specific plan do not help and usually make matters worse. For example, if your business was failing, you wouldn’t lock the doors and take a vacation from it thinking it would somehow be better when you returned. Restoring your relationship will require hard work; each person will have to give and take and bend. And if we decide on a separation, each of you will need individual therapy with a specific plan to reunite; separation is not a time to date other people or drop your family responsibilities. I will help you build a plan to work on restoring the marriage if possible or I will help you create an amicable divorce. The first step is to come in and talk about it openly and make thoughtful decisions about you and your family.

What if we already know we want a divorce?

I can help you start the emotional process of creating an amicable divorce as long as both people want a divorce and are committed to that goal. We can all work together toward getting you prepared for divorce. Couples who are willing to do this work are often able to avoid hard feelings and save money by preparing with me for divorce mediation.

Therapist Questions

Are you licensed?

Yes. I hold 2 professional licenses with the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) And, both of my practice locations (Carefree and Tempe) are licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services as Counseling Facilities. Link:

Why should my counselor be licensed?

In July, 2004, it became an Arizona state requirement to be licensed in order to practice counseling. Counselors who are not licensed are not regulated by or accountable to the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners for specific education, training, and standards of practice or care. Make sure your counselor has the experience you need and holds a current license in good standing.  You can find licensees by logging on to the Board at

Is everything I say confidential?

Yes, to a point. I can only speak to others with your written consent. But if there is clear and imminent danger that you plan to harm yourself or someone else, I have an ethical and legal responsibility to help keep you safe and a duty to warn others you may intend to harm. I guard your privacy if you and your partner or spouse are doing couples therapy with me but I will not keep current harmful secrets from your spouse or partner.

What is your educational background?

I have been a mental health clinician since 1978. I have a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, a master’s degree in counseling and a doctoral degree in education with a focus on the study of empathy and teaching counseling students. I am a subject matter expert (SME) in counseling skills, empathy, group therapy, and inner self-care. I taught counseling courses at the master’s level for 18 years. More info is on the About tab.

What type of therapy do you do?

I establish and work within a therapeutic relationship (Rogerian) getting to know you and your unique patterns and needs. Therapy with me is not passive, I don’t just listen and nod my head. We create your direction together which sometimes requires you to be brave and make the difficult changes you desire. At times I use methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT), Transactional Analysis , Psychodrama, Gestalt, and other active, experiential methods that involve doing homework or practicing what we discuss. There are no short cuts in good therapy.  I do not use any sort of set formula, hypnosis, regression, or EMDR.

Do you offer Group Therapy?

Yes. Many of my clients attend group therapy in order to “practice” the things they have learned in individual therapy. I lead the groups, so it is a safe place to take interpersonal risks and learn to express emotions and feelings in healthy ways. Some people are anxious about group at first but they make great gains and sign up for more groups, workshops, or retreats as time goes on. Not everyone attends group.

You also offer Spiritual Guidance. How is that different from Counseling?

People generally seek counseling for symptoms of anxiety, depression, grief or relationship problems. People who seek Spiritual Guidance often seek help with learning to cultivate forgiveness, honesty, generosity, inner independence, empathy, compassion, and patience. I successfully work with people of all faiths and cultures who wish to develop or improve these qualities and also develop or enhance their personal spiritual practices.

What if I’m not sure if I want to see you for Counseling or Spiritual Guidance?

It’s not necessary that you enter the relationship with me knowing which services you are looking for; we can sort that out when we meet.


Throughout her successful career as a therapist and teacher, Dr. Coats has successfully helped thousands of adults and couples through difficult times. She is ready to help you begin your journey. Call today!


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