Therapy with Aaron
Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
I have a set of siblings with whom I’ve been working for three and a half years. We’ve discussed their behaviors at home and at school, their interactions with each other and with peers, and various coping skills related to depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I’ve developed a strong relationship with them and with their parents and we’ve tried a number of different techniques together. We’ve continued meeting together because other issues have come up and the kids and their parents have continued to find our work together useful.
Then, on the other hand, I had one set of parents bring in their son to see me because he had been struggling with anger and some emotional issues at home. He had been feeling like he was overlooked and ignored at home and was having difficulties controlling his emotions when he was confronted with difficult situations. We worked together in individual sessions and sometimes in joint sessions with his parents. After about three months, he and his parents said that they did not feel like they still needed to keep coming because they had seen such improvements. I agreed that they likely didn’t need my help anymore and I haven’t seen them since (although they did refer another client to me about a year later).
Also, just for the sake of demonstrating the range of clients with whom I’ve worked, I worked with an adult man who said that he was struggling with depression and anxiety to the point that his symptoms were interfering with his professional interactions. We also worked together for about three months, after which he elected not to continue because he felt like his mindset and his coping skills had improved enough for him to continue working through his symptoms on his own.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I’m a firm believer in meeting the client on their level. I may have experience working in the mental health field, but my clients are the experts on their own lives. They provide me with the information they think I need and we work together to figure out next steps for them.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I’m willing to share about my experiences and my family as long as it is helpful and appropriate to the conversation.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I tend to view therapy as more of a conversation than an interview or a series of prompts where I wait for the client to just keep talking. That being said, I do quite a bit of listening during sessions.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I’ll occasionally make suggestions of specific activities that might be helpful. I’ll also recommend books, podcasts or videos if they seem to be appropriate. It always helps for clients to have access to other information or other explanations for difficult concepts.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Friends and loved ones can be incredibly helpful and supportive but there is always a degree of added weight or emotion attached to their feedback because of the relationship. I can be supportive in a way that maintains a degree of objectivity and loses any sort of judgment that might be carrying over from more personal relationships.
Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
We will check in periodically throughout our work together to ensure that you are finding our sessions useful. The decision to end therapy will ultimately be yours, but I will encourage you to plan out the termination collaboratively before we end.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
The bulk of my experience is in working with children and families. My first graduate school field placement was in working with families with children born at risk for developmental disabilities and the second was providing therapy for victims of sexual abuse and their families. I spent three and a half years working in foster care in New York City with children with mental health diagnoses and, for the last eight years, I’ve been working with the same population - families with children with mental health diagnoses - but without the foster care component.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have received some training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which has been particularly helpful in working with a number of my clients and their families.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I’ve always had a desire to help other people. I loved working with kids even when I was younger and going to social work school helped me realize how much I enjoyed learning about mental health as well.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work is the end - when my clients tell me that they don’t think they need me anymore because they’ve worked most of their issues through.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
The most unique aspect of my approach to therapy is the way that I will use references to just about any field to help make things clearer. I can use popular culture, sports and various world cultures and religions to illustrate concepts and to help my feedback become more relatable.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
My first step in working with someone from a different background than mine is to identify the difference to show the clients that I am aware of the divide and that I am comfortable addressing it in any way that they feel they need to.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
The biggest indicator that I am helping a client is that the client tells me that they have been considering our conversations when they come back to future sessions. Even if my suggestions were not effective, we can work together to find alternative solutions.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
The most important indicator for me that a client is feeling stuck is their body language. If their arms are crossed and their facial expression shows skepticism, then I likely need to check in with them to see how they are feeling about our work together. Also, of course, the verbal language that a client uses will also be a clue as to their mindset.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I would suggest committing to at least three or four sessions at the start, if only to get a better feel for what the sessions are like and whether or not they can be helpful.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
My first session is generally a lot of gathering information. I’ll ask the client questions about demographics, what brought them in to see me and where they would like to see treatment go as we work together. It’s not necessary to know all of the answers right away; part of the point of collaborating is to figure out a joint path together.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
If any psychiatric or psychological evaluations have been done and you think they would provide helpful background information, I’d be happy to read them. Otherwise, just yourself and a desire to get to work.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Cash or check, primarily, although I can also accept money through Paypal, Venmo or the Cash App.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
Parking can sometimes be slightly difficult, although I’ve never received any complaints before. I’m just a few blocks from a main subway stop, however.