Demystifying Psychotherapy With Me: The Process
Note: Because of the pandemic, I’ve started providing remote psychotherapy, usually via a HIPAA-secure video platform. It works well and has allowed me to continue to serve clients through the pandemic. However, for those whose proximity and schedule allow it, I prefer in-person sessions, especially to get started. And since Covid-19 changed our lives, I am using a hybrid model that includes both in-person and online services. We can talk together about what’s best for you.
Collaborative Assessment: My goal for the first two to three sessions is to listen to what prompted you to contact me, and to learn about you, what’s troubling you, what you’ve tried, and what you are hoping for in coming to see me.
Feedback and Goal-Setting: Usually by the end of three sessions, I’ll share what I’m hearing and ask for your feedback. I’ll be clear about how I work and what I think may be effective and important in your situation. If working together seems like a good fit, we’ll set a contract for therapy – so we know what you’re working on and how I’ll accompany you.
Getting to Work: You’ll attend regularly scheduled sessions with periodic check-ins about how you’re experiencing therapy and making adjustments as you work on those goals dearest to your heart. While we mostly talk together, I may also recommend you add some new tools that can help you work more effectively with challenging thoughts, strong feelings, and body sensations. I might recommend reading or music or a movie that may enhance your experience and help you meet your goals.
Ending: Over time, many clients experience greater understanding and compassion for themselves. They learn new ways of seeing their challenges and find more effective ways of being with themselves and others. Sessions may be spaced further apart. Sometimes we may formally end, celebrating what growth has taken place and saying goodbye. Sometimes people just want to leave the door open for future sessions. No matter how therapy ends, if we have worked well together, you can always re-contact me for a refresher session or to do another round of therapy sessions when something new arises in your life.
I want to provide a safe and confidential space for you. I’ll listen without judgment to the challenges and issues you bring to therapy. You can ask questions about me and how I work at any time. While listening to you is my first priority, you can also count on me to be honest about what I see, hear and recommend.
I view symptoms and problems as messengers and information to pay attention to. I do not view clients as defective or broken. All humans, however, carry wounds and sorrows, and difficulties that need integration or healing. Your strengths, resilience, and commitment are important to harness.
How long you spend in therapy varies with each person. While some people get the help they’re looking for in just a few sessions, I generally work with clients at least six months and often longer, as the process of fundamental change takes time. Many clients do several “rounds” of therapy with me or check in from time to time to stay on track.
Making thoughtful changes in your life can lead to reduced symptoms and a renewed sense of purpose, joy, and health. Change can also be discomforting; that’s normal, healthy, and necessary a lot of the time. I’ll make sure you have a plan for self-care. And psychotherapy with me means you don’t go through this alone.
I work and think from a family-systems perspective that views all humans as interconnected within networks of family, work, and social relationships, not as individuals in a vacuum. Learning about your family, its patterns of relating and functioning and your role or way of being in your family is essential and allows you to consider ways to change patterns there and in other areas.
Therapy can succeed when you take responsibility for yourself; my role is to accompany, teach and support you as you do so.
It’s vital that you trust your therapist to keep sensitive issues and discussions confidential. I promise to uphold your confidentiality. Sometimes you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to another provider of health care; by law, as your therapist, I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
And, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
• Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
• If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.