FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The fact that I am writing a FAQ about myself seems deeply weird. Becoming a pretty well-known author feels deeply weird in general. And the fact that I would love to have all kinds of awesome interactions with people, but am not able to do so makes me sad and disappointed. And since the reasons why I can’t come up a few times a day at this point, I figured I need to address it in a more cohesive manner.
So hopefully you know I’m not trying to be a dick. And I’m sorry if that comes off that way.
I’m also wanting to get published, can you help me out with that?
You wanna write? That’s awesome. I am the least helpful person on the planet, however. I am not an editor, an agent, a publisher, or a writing coach. The amount of talent I would have in any of these positions is equivalent to the amount of talent I would have in changing the oil in your car.
What I know about actual writing is also pretty small. Small enough to fit into a zine, as long as I have a competent co-author (who actually is all the things described above that I am not). Some of my functional tips that I carried away in my pocket from academia are in that zine.
There are also tons of great books out there about writing like Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, and Francesa Lia Block’s Necklace of Thorns. I mention these books specifically because they are really pragmatic...full of writing exercises and practices that can help you find your way into a project that you’ve been feeling stuck on.
For what it’s worth? The techniques in Linda Trichter Metcalf’s book Writing The Mind Alive are great not just for therapeutic purposes, but for writing in general.
If you want to understand the publishing world better in general? Read A People’s Guide To Publishing. It’s written by Joe Biel, who is not just a publisher, he’s my publisher.
Yeah, but...you got published. And your books seem to do pretty well. How’d you do it?
I’m not withholding any great secrets, I promise. I wasn’t a viral YouTube star that got offered a million dollar advance (And hot tip? The chances of you getting ANY advance are minute. Be prepared for that.) I don’t have a huge social media following. (Probably because I am busy posting pictures of my cats and can’t manage to use trending hashtags or anything helpful. But you can follow me @TheIntimacyDr if you like cats and a lack of hashtags).
I had an idea for a book that I really wanted to read that didn’t exist. So I decided to write it myself. And I had reasonable writing skills beat into me through higher education (I was an editorial assistant on an academic journal when I was a doc student). So I started researching potentional publishers that published what I was writing, looked up their submission guidelines, matched those guidelines to a mother-fucking T, and started pitching.
After about a year, I finally got a “yes.” And actually that “yes” was still caveated with “We see where you are going, can you work with us on the development end?”
So even more important than having an idea, and okay-ish written communication skills is the fact that I generally do a pretty good job at giving my ego some crayons and a juice box and convince it to go sit in the corner while the team at my publishing company helps me shape good books. This goes back to the fact that editing, publishing, agenting, and coaching are not in my job title and I need to listen to the people who DO have that job title.
Hey, the “F” Bombs. Why you trying to sound cool?
I am 100% aware that I am not cool. Full realization of that fact hit me by the time I was 11.
And no, my publisher didn’t sprinkle f-bombs throughout my book like glitter for marketing purposes. I write the way I talk. My father was career military, and I am career community mental health. That equates to decades of being in spaces with continuous reverberation of F bombs.
If I speak authentically, communicating the ideas that are important to me will happen more effectively. And people will resonate with me being honest with them. You know when you are being handed bullshit. And you know when someone is being all fakey-nice and plastic-y. Fuck that shit.
I don’t like it though.
Totally fair. If my language bothers you I respect that, and am not judging you. We all have a history and that history can inform the power that certain words have for us. I don’t think you should have to get over it, you should absolutely respect your own boundaries.
Are you going to do PG versions then?
No, there are not any plans that I am aware of to create PG versions of any of my books. Again, those are decisions above my pay grade.
Can I send you a message?
People are generally surprised to hear that I check my own email. Fuck yeah, I do. That’s important to me for the privacy of my clients and potential clients and because if people are reaching out to me I want them to, you know, actually REACH me.
I totally dig hearing from people (yes, even people who tell me I have a potty mouth and should go take a long walk off a short pier...my ego needs the balance).
Also? If you send me DMs through social media, chances are pretty good that I won’t see them.
Or, at least won’t see them in a reasonable amount of time. It makes my cranky, Gen Xer heart happy when people send me an old-fashioned email like it is still 1998. I am far less likely to miss emails, over DMs.
Will you accept my online friend request?
I have a social media policy in my practice and a big part of that policy is that I don’t accept social media connection requests from clients. So I don’t accept requests from people I don’t know, because they could end up being a client, or the friend/family member of a client, etc. And then we have to have a super uncomfortable and awkward defriending convo. But feel free to follow me, comment on my surplus of cat pictures, etc. My handle on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is @TheIntimacyDr (which I know I mentioned above, I am nothing if not monotonously repetitious).
Can I ask you about my personal situation/mental health issue?
I can’t give you advice or help you with whatever you are going through. I’m a licensed therapist so it’s literally illegal for me to enter into any kind of therapeutic alignment with someone who is not my client.
I don’t think people are looking for the free email therapy hook-up, or anything. People are reaching out to someone who they feel a sense of connection with, and I’m honored by that.
And people have always understood when I explain that responding to specifics is against my licensing board rules. So now you know, too. I’m not being deliberately mean spirited and ignore-y.
Can you be my therapist then?
Possibly. I’m only licensed in Texas so you have to be in Texas for me to provide you therapy.
(That’s another one of those “oh, makes sense” answers that most people don’t necessarily think about right off the bat.)
I’m a private pay therapist (meaning I don’t take insurance) and I’m based in San Antonio. I have a busy practice, but am accepting new clients as scheduling permits.
I also have referrals to people I have trained as well as colleagues I work with that I can share with you if I don’t have any upcoming openings, you need someone who can take your insurance, etc.
If you are out of Texas, I suggest starting with a therapist directory listing like the one on Psychology Today. It’s the one most clinicians use so you will have the widest range of options to choose from (and can search for trauma specialists, Buddhist therapists,kink friendly therapists, etc.)
Your insurance company should also have a list of providers (though it will likely be ridiculously outdated and you will still have to do a lot of calling around).
Can you come speak to my organization or provide training? I see you do that.
Also possibly. I generally charge for stuff like that. Not a lot, I’m not ballin’, but enough to cover me being out of my office and hanging out with your crew.
I already have ongoing commitments for free trainings for organizations I support and topics I am passionate about. Like a bunch of them a year. And there is only so much donated time and travel I can afford. One day I will have a fancy not-for-profit up and running and then I can capture grant money to cover those expenses. But until that happens, I gotta charge a little.
More info on my consulting and training rates is available on my professional practice website, www.faithgharper.com
I am looking at doing what you do or something similar to what you do. So...what should I do?
First of all? A lot of research. Thankfully, we all have access to tons of information at our fingertips. I’m old enough to remember walking to the library and flipping through outdated encyclopedias and hoping for the best. If I had wanted to find info on being a sex-positive practioner back in the day, I woulda found NOTHING. Military base libraries, after all.
But it’s different now so you can get a huge head-start by doing a ton of your own searching and reading. Find out what training the people you admire have had. Read on the different programs available. Read reviews on these programs (because, yes, there’s some bullshit out there). Join professional orgs and Facebook discussion groups.
I say all this because I get a few messages a week, from people who are desperate for some assistance in steering their careers. 100% understand, I’ve definitely had more misses than hits in my own career, and I empathize with the pain of the learning curve.
And I don’t mind answering quick and specific questions. Things I can answer quickly like “Yes that’s an amazing program!” or “I don’t think that training organization has the reputation you want to be associated with as a professional in the field” kinds of answers. But I can’t respond to the broader, generic messages that would require a bit of a master’s thesis to answer effectively.
I’m not trying to be that that shitty-assed dragon hoarding all of the gold of professional knowledge. It’s just that crying your hear is my now-sentient inbox sobbing under the pressure of its overburdened existence.
Ok, cool. Can we meet for coffee, then, and talk about it?
So the fact that you already know that coffee is my weakness means we would likely get along famously. Especially if you are equally obsessed with cute animal videos and British baking shows. Double especially if you are still mourning the fact that Whole Foods stopped making their amazing ginger cookies a few years ago.
If you catch me at a conference or event, 100% come up and say hi, ask me questions, tell me you hate my “F” bombs, or you agree with me that Prue Leith is great but you, too, miss Mary Berry.
(If I am looking at my phone, it’s probably just a cat video...so don’t worry about interrupting me.)
Otherwise? Scheduling time to hang out, video chat, or the rest is not something I have space on my calendar for.
(I mean, unless you are a Whole Foods exec and you are looking at bringing back the damn ginger cookie.)
I have a busy private practice, I’m a board supervisor, I’m consistently immersed in a writing project or three, I have friends and family I adore, and I’m a middle aged lady with chronic health issues I have to attend to in order to effectively be present for all the rest. My inbox is overwhelmed and I quite often am, too.
If I accepted all of the kind invitations I get to hang out I would spend my entire week in coffee shops. Which, on the face of it, sounds like a blast...but in reality means I would have espresso induced heart palpitations and wouldn’t get shit-else done.
How do I boil an egg, tho?
It’s only my oldest that keeps asking me that. So I’m adding that question to the FAQ so they can come find it the next time they forget.
Or perhaps you’ve always wondered as well?
Put your egg or eggs into a pan of water on the stove. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat entirely but leave the pan on the burner, and cover it.
Set a timer for twenty minutes and go watch an episode of Schitt’s Creek.
Once David Levy is done with his shenanigans, your eggs will be perfect (though still warm, obvs, you may want to throw them in the fridge and watch another ep).