What does a typical session with you look like?
A typical session with me is very active, in that I don’t just sit and listen and ask you how you feel. I challenge my clients a lot and I make sure to listen for inconsistencies in their responses or the little throwaway statements they may make, since that could hold clues into what is creating problems for you in your life. I also use techniques like role playing and problem solving, and I encourage my clients to think outside the box and stay open-minded. I really like to explore where your thoughts are coming from and to push you towards considering alternative takes if your own opinions or beliefs are not serving you well. I love to work alongside my clients and to be present with them as they go through the therapy process, which is why I make a point of staying very active and engaged during each session. I want my clients to know that they have me as a teammate in this journey, every step of the way.
What was your path to becoming a therapist? Were there any challenges?
I think one of the most challenging experiences I had during my training to become a therapist was getting pregnant in the middle of my master’s program. Not only did I have to deal with the physical and logistical demands of the being pregnant during grad school, I was simultaneously learning to deal with all the things the pregnancy brought up for me emotionally – what would having a child mean for my life, my future, my identity? Ultimately, though, the whole experience really helped me to understand the fluid nature of our identities as humans, and how our own identities can sometimes change in ways that we don’t expect, which is something I have been able to assist many of my clients in working through also.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope is about finding your Dharma, which I love. Reading it through my therapist lens, it brings up a lot of big core belief issues and it explores ways to think differently. It also really addresses the existential element of living a meaningful life, which is the core of many of my own belief systems. The book looks at where we find meaning, what that looks like, how we even go about finding it, and then living in congruence with that. I find that all of these philosophies and questions very much influence my work as a therapist.
How do you approach the stigma surrounding mental health and therapy?
I actually feel like it’s one of my core personal missions to fight that stigma! I tell my clients that my goal is to work myself out of a job—rather than keeping them in therapy forever—using therapy as a helpful tool to learn and grow and address certain problems. I always encourage my clients to be able to come in and out of therapy as needed. My hope is for therapy to be such a positive experience for them that when a client is ready to terminate therapy, they always know that it’s something they can come back to. I believe the concept of going to therapy would feel much less daunting for people knew they wouldn’t be locked in to weekly sessions for years. For these reasons I try to be really flexible with my clients in terms of scheduling and frequency because, while I do want the time and space to do the work that we need to do, overall I want clients to recognize that therapy is not an obligation or a chore, but a truly helpful and positive experience.