Amy-with-treesmHello, and welcome to my website.  Good for you! You are looking for a therapist or a coach and that is a sign of hope and positivity. My website is designed for ease of use and I trust you will find all the information you need about me and my services by taking a minute to explore this site. Here’s a brief sketch, with more detailed information within the site. I am a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, coach, and spiritual director with over twenty five years in practice. My private practice is located in Columbia, SC where I see individuals, couples, families, and groups. As a coach, I work with people from all over the world via phone or Skype sessions, as well as in person if that is more convenient. Please click on the “drawers” below for more details about therapy and coaching. One of my greatest joys in life is seeing people grow into their wisdom and strength, living out their God-given potential. This happens most completely, I believe, at that juncture where one’s personal psychology and personal spirituality intersect. Because of this belief, people who work with me are often willing to look not only at their deepest psychological issues but at their deep spiritual issues as well. I teach in several spiritual direction training programs, focusing on the psychological aspects of spiritual direction. I have led retreats for twenty years and am a sought after speaker for workshops. My area of expertise include working with clergy from all denominations and with local seminarians, all aspects of women’s issues, leadership during hard times, forgiveness, grief work, healthy relationships, building healthy families and communities, the spiritual journey, healing, and the mind-body-spirit connection. I am  a certified PeopleMap trainer, and I use this tool to help groups of all kinds communicate effectively and productively. I write an almost weekly blog which can be found by clicking “My Blog” at the top of this page. As a writer I have won six National Polly Bond Awards for Special Achievement in Church Communication in the area of Spiritual and Devotional Writings. My first book, Moment to Moment:The Transformative Power of Everyday Life was published by Morehouse Publishing in 2013, and was named one of the Top 50 Spiritual Books by Spirituality and Practice. www.spiritualityandpractice.com

On a personal note, I am married and have a daughter who has left the nest. I enjoy cooking and eating, especially if it’s done in the presence of good friends, and ballroom dancing, especially after all the cooking and eating.

Therapist/Counselor

Amy Sander MontanezAs a respectful yet interactive therapist, I work with my clients to get to the root of problems and to help them lead fulfilling, productive lives. I provide an atmosphere of compassion and sensitivity balanced with clarity and focus. I believe in the mind-body-spirit connection and look for the integration of these three components in a person. As a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed professional counselor, I am trained in many conventional approaches to therapy as well as many alternative approaches. I consider myself to be a systemic-experiential therapist, meaning that I am always considering the systems a client lives and works in, as well as our own system in the therapy room. I believe people change as much from experience as from knowledge, and I strive to encourage experiences that pave a road to healing. I also integrate the theories of Jungian, Gestalt, psychomotor therapy, and mindfulness into my practice.

When working with couples, the research and work of Dr. John Gottman and The Gottman Institute as well as the concepts and theories of attachment issues in couples (Emotionally Focused Therapy) deeply inform my work. Alternatively, I am trained in and use guided imagery, hypnosis, dream work, and yoga if it feels like it will be a helpful adjunct to the therapy and if the client would like to explore these avenues. If clients are open to making their spiritual lives a part of the therapy, I am open to exploring how that can help in their healing. Or, if a client’s spiritual life has been a source of abuse or oppression, I am open to exploring how that might be different. My experience tells me that people often heal more quickly and more fully if their spiritual life is a part of the therapy process. As a trained spiritual director with a Doctorate in Ministry in Spiritual Formation, I feel comfortable in helping a client explore this part of life. I see individuals, couples, and families, and I specialize in working with clergy, seminarians, and their families.  If you are seeking couple’s therapy, please click here for more information about the uniqueness of couple’s work.

Specialties include:

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Grief and Loss
  • Parenting and Family Concerns
  • Handling stress and pressure
  • Women’s Issues
  • Late Teens and Young Adults
  • Relationship Issues and Concern
  • Marriage Difficulties
  • Vocational/Job Discernment
  • Issues Surrounding Forgiveness
  • The Spiritual Journey

Commonly Asked Questions: Why do people seek therapy? There are many different reasons people come to therapy. Perhaps the most common are difficulty dealing with change or loss, unexpected or overwhelming life experiences, relational problems, and self-understanding and discovery. Therapy can be a safe place to get support, learn new coping strategies, get antidotes to old messages, get help with negative feelings and inaccurate self-esteem, and embody a new perspective on life. Most people coming to therapy are motivated to make some changes in life. What Can I Expect From Therapy? For therapy to work, you must be an active participant. You will be expected to talk about your concerns, and I will guide you by asking questions that will help you explore and challenge your problems. Although therapy is present and future oriented, sometimes exploring the past is helpful in understanding why you are the way you are. You may be asked to read outside of a session or to keep a log or journal of a certain aspect of your life. A therapy session is typically 50-minutes, and most clients come between two and four times a month. The benefits of therapy can be profound.

  • Improved relational skills
  • Accurate sense of self
  • Better understanding of self and others
  • Resolution to long-standing problems and concerns
  • Management of depression, anger, and anxiety
  • Healing of old wounds
  • Feeling unstuck and freed from old, destructive patterns

What Can We Expect From Therapy as a Couple? If you have never been involved in couple’s therapy, it may be helpful to understand a few things that differentiate it from individual therapy. Click here to learn more. Do You Take Insurance? As you probably already know, the world of insurance is complex and complicated. In general, I am not on any insurance panels and do not take insurance co-pays. I will always provide you with a receipt for services if you so choose. Many people file these with their health savings accounts or with their insurance companies directly and receive reimbursement for out-of-network expenses. However, if you are clergy or seminarian, please ask my office manager about how your insurance might be used.  Please be advised also that to file insurance I have to give you a mental health/illness diagnosis. You may want to consider that this will be a part of your permanent medical record. I have a secretary who handles all insurance and billing and she will be happy to discuss this with you. The best way for you to find out about your insurance is to call your company and ask for the mental health benefits. Ask if there is a deductible, if the provider has to be in-network, and what the out-of-network coverage is. I will work with you and your insurance company to the best of my ability. However, ultimately, you are responsible for the bill. How much does therapy cost? My fee is $130 per 50-minute session. Is therapy confidential? With the exceptions listed below, all therapy is totally confidential. I can not talk about the contents of your session with anyone else without your signed permission. I can not even let anyone know that you are a client of mine. The exceptions to this are:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect or dependent elder abuse: If there is even reason to suspect this, I am required by law to report this to the local agencies. It is not my job to do the investigating.
  • Threatened harm to another person: I am required by law to notify the police as well as the potential victim.
  • Threatened harm to yourself: I always work with a client to obtain the proper level of care and support. Most clients, if they are significantly depressed or suicidal, will be asked to see a physician to be assessed for the need for medication. If a client is uncooperative in getting help, I may have to take other action to keep the client safe.

Coach

Amy Sander MontanezProfessional coaching focuses on empowering motivated people to move from where they are to where they want to be. It is future-oriented and purposeful in its process of helping people focus on what they want out of life. People who use a coach are often already very successful. They may just need some accountability and creativity to help them reach their new goals. A professional coach, like a good teacher, brings out the best in clients and helps to set them on their own unique and amazing life paths. When you hire me as a coach, we work together for your highest good and your creative visions. I want you to reach your potential! While coaching has long been used by business executives, it is now becoming widely used by the general public as a way of honing energy and achieving excellence in life. One of the areas in which I specialize in is clergy coaching. In this area of coaching, I work with ministers who wish to function at their highest levels, spiritually and psychologically. This coaching can be done individually or in groups. In addition, I offer coaching in a variety of other areas, including vocational coaching, life-work balance, leadership, and relationships. Although I have been coaching for years, I am now a Board Certified Coach through The Institute for Life Coach Training. I love learning more and sharpening my skills. Coaching can be done in person, over the phone, or on the web.

Consulting

Sometimes people want another set of ears and eyes to help them see and solve problems. As a consultant, my job is to observe, analyze/diagnose, and make recommendations. Sometimes I do this for small departments of an institution, sometimes I do it for a family, sometimes I do it for an individual. Generally if I am hired as a consultant, it is a short-term assignment, making use of my expertise in a certain area. Forms and fees for Coaching and Consulting can be found under Forms.

Retreat/Speaker

Bob-hugging-AmySmI have been leading secular and church retreats for over 20 years. If your church needs a parish-wide retreat, a vestry or council retreat, a contemplative weekend, or a women’s retreat, or your civil group would like a special time away together, I will customize a retreat for you. If your school or civic organization needs some inspiration, better communication, big changes, or just some time away, I can help with that as well. I bring my years as a teacher and speaker as well as my love for all things creative to my retreats. I know how to build community and create a safe space for participants to relax and enjoy. Some examples of recently led retreats include:

  • The Transformative Power of Everyday Life
  • Forgiveness: How Free Do You Want To Be?
  • Advancing by Retreating: Visioning Your Future
  • Habits of a Healthy Home
  • The Relationship Project: A weekend for couples
  • Compassion, Feminine Style
  • The Questions Christ Asks of Us
  • Reclaiming Play in your Life
  • Unresolved Grief and It’s Connection to Depression and Anxiety
  • Feminine Archetypes
  • Reclaiming the Archetype of the Crone
  • Discerning your Spiritual Gifts
  • Building Community: It Can Be Scary
  • Sabbath Time: What Do You Hear?

I am also a certified PeopleMap Trainer. Peoplemap Communication System is a versatile tool for enhancing communication and preventing conflict. Through an easy 10-minute assessment that delivers with 95 % accuracy, PeopleMap helps people identify core personality types. Participants then learn how their personality affects communication and relationship with others. Training is available in several formats:

  • One day or half-day introductory workshops
  • Staff or lay retreats
  • Marriage seminars and workshops

Contact me for more information or to schedule a training.