Therapy with Abbi
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is the act of putting time aside to focus on yourself and to develop self-awareness, so that you can move past patterns that do not serve you and experience a richer, fuller life with the support of someone who genuinely puts you and your needs first.
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.
Example 1: Laura comes in for support in managing panic attacks and anxiety (worry thoughts, fear, feeling physically uncomfortable, difficulty managing sleep and eating, etc.). We look at current lifestyle challenges (such as work, social relationships, and daily habits) and take a brief history of the symptoms to understand what may be contributing to the anxiety response. We work together on specific breathing techniques for daily practice to reduce physical tension and prioritizing needs to create more space to focus on self-care. Each week we build on practical tools, while addressing underlying thoughts and feelings that contribute to experience of stress.
Example 2: Adam comes in for therapy after a few years of having a break. He wants support in managing his anger to avoid getting into fights with his partner that negatively impact their relationship. We discuss previous therapy work and current needs for accountability and support. Each week, we focus on tools (including worksheets) to support more effective coping and communication strategies, while simultaneously getting better understanding of meaningful experience behind the anger response.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I believe that a supportive, caring relationship is the heart of therapy. I utilize my understanding that humans are complex and have a variety of competing needs that can be overwhelming. I do my best to use my background in holistic practices (yoga, Eastern philosophy, Ayurveda, mindfulness) combined with Western psychotherapeutic thought to work not only with consideration of the mental aspects of a person, but also with appreciation for the physical needs for self-care, stability, and space.
4. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I share my own personal experience when I believe it to be the most helpful way to illustrate a particular point. I am open in identifying with my own experience in managing anxiety and truly practice what I preach. I understand the barriers that can get in the way, while also understanding the true value of the work through personal experience. I do not, however, utilize these examples for my own therapeutic needs, and only share when I feel it is clinically relevant.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
I am very active in the process of therapy. One, because we do experiential exercises that are guided and two, because my dynamism as a human has contributed to my effectiveness as a positive support to many of my clients.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Practice, practice, practice. As experiential beings, we best learn through repetitive practice. Personal growth is 99% practice and 1% theory; I encourage my clients to work on what happens in the room at home- sometimes through physical techniques (breath work, yoga, nutrition), writing reflections, or just focused contemplation on an idea. I find it helps bridge week to week, as well as create change sooner..
7. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
I always say the therapeutic relationship is unique because unlike well-intentioned friends and family who just want to see you happy and feeling good as soon as possible (or are having their own needs being met by you), I want you to learn how to make room for discomfort, understand the underlying meaning of emotions and actions, and make long lasting change- which can require patience, space, and time.
8. 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?
Yes! While therapy can be a useful space, ongoing without an end, I encourage my clients to move on when I feel like there’s a positive course of growth and movement- always with the option to return back for fine tuning or when new issues present.
9. Where did you work before going into private practice?
I worked in a variety of community mental health settings, such as group-based programs for adults with severe mental health issues as well as outpatient mental health clinics.
10. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
Anxiety and panic attacks, anger, depression, bipolar disorder, relationship/family issues, psychosis, trauma, women’s issues, holistic health
11. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
When I was in high school, I was struggling to support a lot of friends with mental health issues, specifically depression and bipolar disorder, and did not know how to help and felt overwhelmed by my friends’ needs. I recognized that all individuals need support and to have a safe space to be heard and felt. No matter how severe one’s mental and emotional distress is, we all need a space for ourselves to be heard.
12. What is the best part of the work for you?
Connecting with amazing people and building beautiful relationships over time. Standing in someone’s corner through deep suffering and into a place of more peace and joy is an honor for me.
13. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I am very personal and approachable. I use myself fully, understanding my personality and very being to be a part of my work, not separate to it. While I am definitely not the first to blend Eastern modalities and philosophies with traditional Western psychotherapy, my personalized synthesis and spin on it is unique in its own way.
14. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I trust that my clients are the experts in their own experiences. I have specific training and professional experience, but I listen carefully and ask questions to ensure I am hearing you, and not my assumptions about you.
15. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Therapy can often be challenging and emotional and not always “feel good”- but if you feel supported, heard, and are more aware of your own roadblocks and feel more prepared to navigate stressors, that’s a good sign.
16. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
It takes at least three months to build a relationship and get used to something new- think about the probationary period at a job: 90 days. Depending on your needs, our work can last six months to a year, or perhaps two to three years. Sometimes we will stop for a while and return back when additional support is needed.
17. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Don’t judge yourself for feeling nervous! New beginnings are always nerve-wracking. And exciting!
“I have had the pleasure of working with Abbi for the past 6yrs., having the opportunity to both observe and collaborate with her in multiple treatment settings. As a clinician, Abbi’s use of intrinsic qualities (compassion, intelligence, empathy, positive ego strength) with her therapeutic acumen has assisted those she's worked with to see things in themselves that they weren’t previously able to see, resulting in them taking action toward becoming their best selves. As a colleague, she uses those same skills to support the growth and development of others through peer supervision, as communication and collaboration are essential elements for her, in her pursuit toward continued growth and development as she strives to be the best clinician she can be for those she works with.” - Dorian D., MSEd., LP-MHC, RYT
“Working with Abbi the last few years has changed my life. Abbi brings compassion and intelligence that have helped to create a shift in my life that was once unimaginable to me. I am immensely grateful to her.” - Johanna R.