Welcome Michelle Foraker, October's featured Provider of the Month!
Upon learning more about Michelle, this further affirmed our decision to make her October's featured provider. The start of Michelle’s telehealth journey aligns with many of you in the industry, in that, it wasn’t particularly wanted or welcomed. Change is hard and technology often feels foreign, so it’s understandable that changes that impact the traditional therapeutic environment, which has built a reputation on its ability to provide a safe space, could intimidate us into remaining in our comfort zones. However, that fear wasn’t enough to defer Michelle’s lifelong focus on helping others.
Michelle looked past the initial discomfort of telehealth and put in the work that it takes to make the newness of a new space fade into the background and recreate the true sense of security we find innately intertwined with authentic connection. She is genuine, patient, understanding, innovative and kindly straightforward – qualities we see her use with intention and an open mind to continually nurture growth. A member of the thera-LINK family since 2017, Michelle is someone who walks the walk and truly builds bridges to empower new pathways. Please join us in welcoming Michelle Foraker!
What is your name and the name of your practice? How long have you been in practice?
Michelle Foraker at Bridge the Gap Coaching. I have been in the mental health field since 1999, licensed since 2001, and in private practice since 2005.
What do you do for fun? What hobbies do you do? Tell us about you outside of your "provider" role. :)
I'm pretty versatile. I love to line dance. Being on a dance floor is rejuvenating. It is at the top of my self care list. I attend multiple dance workshops throughout the year to learn and improve. I also enjoy loving on my furbabies and spending time with friends and family. I love to host gatherings and bringing people together. I also enjoy playing cards, board games, and relaxing on the beach. Gardening and landscaping is fun and very therapeutic for me. There are so many things that I love to do. I'm the type of person that likes adventure and am willing to try "almost" anything at least once. Exploring new places and road trips is energizing. Spending quiet time on my patio is always welcome.
Favorite Book?I can't think of a specific favorite book. I enjoy reading James Patterson series.
Favorite TV Show/Movie?
Movies: Dirty Dancing and UP; TV: Blue Bloods and The Amazing Race, which I want to be on.
Where do you practice (state, etc..) and what areas do you specialize in?
I practice mostly in Florida. However, I recently obtained my Georgia license. Building my teletherapy practice, I have worked with people from D.C., Los Angeles, and Ft. Worth. My specialties include relationships, anxiety, and depression.
Why did you go into your profession?
I have known since I was very young that I was going to be a therapist. I remember riding around on my Big Wheel (the Green Machine) on our driveway and my Mom asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I responded that I wanted to "talk to people and help them." I am so blessed to be invited into people's life and to be able to help them reach their goals.
What are you passionate about in your practice?
I am passionate about being genuine and down to earth. I believe in using humor because our brains tend to hold onto new information and demonstrate new actions easier when they are attached to happy thoughts.
How long have you been doing online sessions with your clients?I started online sessions around September 2017. So, 2 years now and I love it! When I was asked about "virtual counseling" about 4 years ago, I was strongly against it. NOW, I have changed my thinking completely. Online therapy is fantastic and my clients love the convenience. The truth is that thera-Link was a key component to my change in thinking. I am confident that if it weren't for Heather's genuine, friendly, timely, and patient attitude as I learned the platform, which is actually very user friendly; I would likely still be resistant to this growing trend.
When did you start using thera-LINK to see clients?
Do your clients find that online sessions offer them similar results as coming in to an office? Do they prefer online sessions or in office? Was it a difficult adjustment for them?
That is a difficult question because the majority of my patients started in office with me, so the transition was a bit difficult for them. However, they came along and started liking the convenience. We each learned that the difference was really minimal and the results are the same.
What would you tell someone just starting out with an online option for their clients? Any tips/tricks or things you've learned along the way?
I would suggest to do a practice session with a friend or family member. I did this after I first signed up and I'm glad I did because I was able to get familiarized with the platform and, as it was my first time on video, I was able to be more comfortable myself. I, literally, would not even do video chats, refused Skyping with family and friends because I wasn't comfortable. NOW, I'll jump on a video chat easily and I'm making videos that I post on my website and social media. I even have a YouTube Channel now and it's actually fun to me. SO - the tip would be - You have greatness that others need and want to benefit from. So, break out of your comfort zone and share your gifts.
Where do you work from mostly? (i.e. home office, beach :), actual office where you see clients in person as well?)
My home office.
Did you purchase any new equipment when you embarked in an online practice? Either way, what do you use for your sessions? (i.e. laptop/tablet, webcam, headset, big monitor)No, I started using my laptop, then I used my Tablet, and now I mostly use my phone. I have a Samsung so it's not great; however, it works good. I recently purchased a tripod and I'm really liking that. It would be awesome for thera-Link to include Android on their platform. ;)
Follow Michelle Foraker with Bridge the Gap Coaching: