“In order to feel different and change your life, you must do something different—and trying therapy can be your something different.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
When I was a new therapist first starting out, I was frustrated that the psychodynamic therapy I had been providing was not alone helping my clients move efficiently toward their goals. This early time in my career coincided with entry into my own therapy. During my own sessions, I was similarly impatient when my therapist did not have an answer to my question: "I know why I feel the way I do, but what do I do about it?” I started hearing some of my clients echo this same sentiment to me. It wasn't until I had the good fortune to be trained and supervised in CBT by a therapist at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy that I found the answer to this question.
What should someone know about working with you?
Most sessions will begin with a check-in from the prior week—including goals achieved, obstacles, and continued discussion. We’ll talk about thoughts or feelings related to prior topics and any new items my client wants to discuss. I will always provide feedback in terms of support, empathy, education, encouragement, and assistance with problem-solving. Additionally, we’ll set goals for the coming week—which will likely include opportunities to practice what we've discussed in session. Although this is my ideal agenda for a session, I am mindful of being where my client is at any given moment. If my client desires to use more or all of the session time to remain on a topic, then I will provide support and guidance as needed.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
An interdisciplinary team that collaborates in a cohesive manner is the ideal provider group structure. The most enjoyable job I've had has been one in which the team consisted of the director/supervisor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and several social workers. Each member appeared to respect one another and communicate well. Group intakes were performed where, when possible, at least one person from each discipline was present. The interdisciplinary team met immediately after to discuss the case, impressions, probable diagnosis, course of treatment, and disposition. Listening to providers from other fields heightened my awareness of psychosocial factors that I would likely not have considered on my own—or if I was only in discussion with other social workers instead of a range of providers.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
If the change you are looking for in your life has not yet happened, what do you expect to happen in the future that will bring about change? In order to feel different and change your life, you must do something different—and trying therapy can be your something different. If you are trying the same old things and you are waiting for change to happen to you, you will likely be disappointed. If you don’t do something about your life now, you might regret it in the future. Think about it this way: Exercise is important to keep your body healthy—therapy is important to keep your mind and soul healthy.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Currently, I'm most excited about functional medicine and its implications for helping individuals manage mental health concerns, chronic pain, and illness. Functional medicine appears to be moving slowly into the mainstream, although health insurance companies won't yet pay for these services. I am motivated to research and educate clients about how their lifestyle choices may be causing, or exacerbating, emotional and physical pain. Sometimes, for example, individuals blame themselves or label themselves for their negative moods. They look to correct the problems by focusing on past adverse situations. When a client learns that their troubling symptoms may be slightly alleviated by focusing on concrete lifestyle choices, emotional healing begins and the individual is open to learning how to develop new thought and behavioral patterns.
“Exercise is important to keep your body healthy—therapy is important to keep your mind and soul healthy.”