Typically, the way that it works in my local area is that the pilot would request the full procedure when wanting to use a course reversal. This would be interpreted by ATC to mean the pilot was going to fly direct to the IAF requested by the pilot when requesting the IAP. ATC would then vector the pilot in a manner to get the pilot to intercept the course at the most advantageous angle. The pilot may request to self vector, though. The pilot would then fly outbound on the IAP for the PT.
The PT has to be done along the outbound course. Though there is not a specific distance the pilot must fly in order to do the PT, it has to be flown in such a manner that the aircraft does not exceed a specific distance. The pilot can, however do the PT in as little a space as that provided by a hold.
If the pilot chooses to use the hold as a course reversal instead, they would request the hold first. They would follow that request up either with another radio call or within the same radio call with stating the intent of using the IAP to approach for a landing, touch and go, low approach, etc.
If the pilot does not make their intent clear when requesting the approach ATC will ask for the pilot to state their intentions. On a slow day, they may just ask you to report the FAF when inbound for a landing.
Remember though, the procedure for using an IAP would be to have your aircraft established on the lateral guidance, fully configured for a landing, at or prior to the FAF. That would preclude the possibility of flying directly to the FAF from any other angle or direction, then descending down for a landing. Because of that, ATC would be expecting you to do some type of course intercept or course reversal on the intermediate leg.