Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

“How do I know when it is time to get therapy?”

When you want to:

  • Reduce, manage, or eliminate depression, anxiety, grief, unresolved hurt
  • Strengthen or restore your relationship as a couple; improve communication, connection, intimacy, trust, learn to treat your partner or spouse as the apple of your eye. Create a family mission statement.
  • Heal relationships with parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, coworkers
  • Work through, resolve, forgive and let go of past regrets, estrangements, damage from affairs
  • Manage transitions like “empty nest”, career change, adult children who need to move out
  • Improve self-care through active intentions, personal manifesto, spiritual practice, mindfulness
  • Own and celebrate your place in the LGBT Community
  • Grieve and resolve the loss of a beloved family member, horse, or pet

“Do you accept insurance or Medicare or offer a sliding fee scale?”

The only insurance I accept is ComPsych EAP. Since I am “out of network”, please check your plan for Out of Network Benefits. I do not offer a sliding scale. Click on the Fees tab for more info.

“What are your areas of expertise?”

I specialize in individual, couples, and workshops for adults.

“What are the issues or ages that you do not treat?”

There are a few issues that require areas of expertise or experience that I do not have.

I do not treat:

  • Children and adolescents
  • Current trauma victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or other crimes
  • High risk individuals in crisis who are suicidal, homicidal, or actively addicted to substances
  • People who are seeking paperwork for disability status, leave from work, or substance abuse assessments. I do not initiate therapy with people whose initial need or sole purpose is to receive paperwork of any kind, including but not limited to state or federal disability, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), substance abuse assessments, legal matters, American Disability Act (ADA) service animals, or emotional support animals (ESA). People who need those services should seek or will be referred to a higher level of care.
  • Relationship issues of people with multiple sexual partners (polygamy, polyamory, lifestyle, swinging, open relationships)
  • Relationship issues related to BDSM
  • Individuals questioning or considering gender re-assigment
  • I did not provide court ordered or mandated counseling or paperwork of any kind such as DUI, anger management, domestic violence, probation, parole, etc.

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

No. Our initial session is a thorough conversation that includes a mental health assessment. We will discuss: your current situation; mood and symptoms; and an overview of your history. After this assessment we will decide an initial plan of how to 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.

Therapist Questions

“Are you licensed?”

Yes. In July, 2004, it became a requirement in Arizona to be licensed in order to practice counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) in good standing with the licensing board. Please make sure your counselor is licensed in good standing. Click here to find out:  https://azbbhe.us//

“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 higher education with a focus on teaching graduate level counseling students. I developed a method for teaching empathy and described this method in my dissertation which was published in a professional counseling journal. I am also a subject matter expert (SME) in counseling skills, empathy, group therapy, and inner self-care. I taught master’s level counseling courses at 3 different universities in the Phoenix area for 18 years.

“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 decide 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 but groups are on hold due to COVID-19.

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 or workshops as time goes on. Not everyone attends group.

Patient Rights

Patient Rights

All Patients have a right to the following:

  1. To be informed of your rights during your intake
  2. To make an informed consent to the process of outpatient counseling
  3. To have the rights posted (in office or website) and to receive a written copy of the patient rights
  4. To be treated with dignity, respect, and consideration
  5. To not be subjected to: abuse; neglect; exploitation; coercion; manipulation; sexual abuse or assault;
  6. To not be restrained except as allowed in R9-10-1012(B), restraint or seclusion
  7. To be free from retaliation for submitting a complaint to the Licensing Department or another entity
  8. To be free from misappropriation of personal and private property
  9. To refuse treatment at any time or withdraw consent for treatment before treatment is initiated
  10. To be informed of health care directives, and the patient complaint process
  11. To consent before being photographed
  12. To provide written consent for release any records except as otherwise permitted by law,
  13. To not be discriminated against based on race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, or diagnosis
  14. To receive treatment that supports and respects individuality, choices, strengths, and abilities
  15. To receive privacy in treatment and care for personal needs
  16. To review, upon written request, the patient’s own medical record
  17. To receive a referral if treatment is not authorized or able to provide services needed by the patient
  18. To participate in the development of, or decisions concerning, treatment
  19. To participate or refuse to participate in research or experimental treatment; and
  20. To receive assistance from a family member, the patient’s representative, or other individual in understanding, protecting, or exercising the patient’s rights.

Summary of the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

HIPAA is a federal law that gives patients rights over their personal health information (PHI) and sets rules and limits on who can look at and receive their health information. Dr. Coats and her staff must follow this law. This is a very brief summary.

Patients have the right to:

  • Ask to see and get a copy of their health records (see exceptions in the consent form).
  • Have corrections added to their PHI.
  • Receive a notice that tells them how their PHI may be used and shared. [This is included in the informed consent you will sign in the initial paperwork].
  • Contact Dr. Coats if you have concerns about the confidentiality of your counseling.

What Personal Health Information (PHI) is Protected?

  • PHI documented by your healthcare provider and placed in your medical record.
  • PHI communicated between you and your healthcare provider
  • PHI within the billing information maintained by your healthcare provider.

How is Personal Health Information (PHI) Protected?

Your healthcare provider will take appropriate and reasonable steps to keep your health information secure and only shared:

  • With your written consent for counseling and care coordination,
  • For billing your insurance if applicable,
  • With your written permission to inform or refer to other providers, family, or specialists
  • To make required calls or reports to the police or crisis agencies, such as reporting suicidal or homicidal thoughts, intentions, or gestures.

This is a general summary. Please explore more about HIPAA at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html


Monday through Saturday by appointment. Please call or email for availability.


Please visit my Fees Tab. Please note I do not accept insurance other than the ComPsych EAP program.


Phone: 480-980-6308

Email info@vallerycoats.com

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