Therapy with Alexander
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is an open and interactive space that gives you an opportunity to develop insight into your difficulties and establish a deeper relationship with yourself.
My approach to the therapeutic process is to provide a genuine and validating atmosphere in which you can freely express your feelings and get in touch with your needs. In a collaborative and exploratory style, we’ll work through familiar roles and patterns in your life that lead to you feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.
My hope is that you’ll find therapy to be a great way to learn how to approach situations and cope with stressors in healthier ways as well as discover new ways of being that improve your self-esteem, relationships, and wellbeing!
2. 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.
One patient, upon hearing that therapy is a weekly commitment, expressed resistance about the obligation of having to attend on a weekly basis. We’ve worked together for several years now and we often come back to this exchange in the context of the progress that she’s made and the growth of our relationship, but also as a shared experience of her resistance to obligation and how it relates to the sense of “dread” that she feels in her daily life.
Another example is my work with one of my patients who has a tendency to be distractible, avoidant, and at times, silent during session. I’ve always provided him with the space to sit with his feelings and come to his own insights without feeling challenged or judged. During one recent session, I asked him if he felt like he was able to be himself during sessions which, to my surprise, he responded that he doesn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t start the session sitting in silence! This allowed us to examine and discuss our relationship and redefine what would be helpful in our work to make him feel more at ease.
3. Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
The concepts of “curiosity” and “play” are important to me. In sessions, I often find myself saying “let’s be curious about that” in order to model an openness and nonjudgmental stance when exploring topics and situations. I want the patient to be able to use curiosity as a guiding principle in their life to develop insight about their behaviors without the pressure of arriving at a predefined answer.
As for “play,” I believe that the seriousness of the work needs to be balanced with a sense of levity, humor, and freedom of being. My hope is to facilitate patients to access a broader range of the personality, approach situations creatively, and be able to engage in a healing and organic exchange within the room.
4 How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Being genuine and transparent within the relationship is an important element of my approach to the work. I want the patient to feel that they are engaging with a real and multifaceted person rather than a detached and inaccessible entity. I will share my emotional reactions and patterns that I am noticing within the relationship to develop recognition and insight to what could be happening in their personal relationships. From time to time, I will share certain background details about my own life, but have a good sense of what feels appropriate and boundaried.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
I am active and engaged in a flowing dialogue in my sessions. I use my clinical intuition to judge when I need to hang back and allow the patient to express and work through vulnerable feelings or be more hands-on when I feel that they are stuck in repetitive or self-sabotaging patterns.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Readings, quite rarely, unless it’s a good show, movie, or book that I feel you might enjoy. However, with some regularity, I will recommend specific activities such as exercise, self-care, and journaling, especially for patients who are depressed. The hope is to help them get in touch with neglected aspects of themselves, that at one point, were a source of meaning and positivity in their lives. I believe that some patients, especially when they are having difficulties with functioning, need guidance and direction to overcome negative thought patterns and reestablish a sense of mastery and motivation in their daily lives.
7. If I have never been to therapy before, what should I expect? How do I know if I should go, and how do I start?
I start each new relationship by exploring your expectations for therapy in order to open up dialogue about your individual needs and lay the groundwork for a mutual and trusting relationship. I want to collaborate and come to an understanding about what does and doesn’t feel helpful within our relationship. If you’re wondering if you should start therapy, you’re probably in touch with a part of yourself that wants life to be better. It can start with a short conversation over the phone to get a sense of relief from feeling heard and understood.
8. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Unlike personal relationships, our dynamic will differ because I don’t have an agenda for our relationship. I don’t come in with the expectation for you to play a certain role or act a certain way. Instead, I am interested in creating meaning and discovering new ways of being and engaging together. As a therapist, I will also be able to provide you with differing perspectives and objective feedback that people in your life could be reluctant to share with you for various reasons.
9. 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?
Ultimately, I feel that it’s up to the individual to decide if they are at a place in their life in which they feel that they’ve made significant progress and are no longer benefiting from treatment. At that point, I will help you determine if you feel that you are in a stable place to discontinue treatment or if you might be choosing to end treatment to avoid confronting difficult material. My priority is for you to feel that your needs are being met, so I will always hold space for you to express if you are feeling dissatisfied within our relationship. In fact, I believe that the moments in which you might feel frustrated with me are important opportunities to identify patterns and work through familiar feelings that could be happening in your personal relationships.
10. Where did you work before going into private practice?
I worked at The Fifth Avenue Counseling Center for six years.
11. Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I completed a one-year introductory program in relational theory at the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center.
12. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have extensive history working with people who come from a variety of different backgrounds and situations. I specialize in helping people with self-esteem and identity issues that could be stemming from unresolved trauma, bullying, or unhealthy family dynamics. I also specialize in helping people resolve relationship difficulties revolving around unmet needs, conflict, isolation, and alienation. I also have an interest in helping people establish a healthy work-life balance and resolve existential uncertainty related to their career and future.
13. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I have an extensive background in social work since college, when I was videotaping music therapy sessions for developmentally delayed children and doing home visits for isolated seniors in the community. After graduating and working at a homeless shelter for three years, I knew that I wanted to work more intimately with people and help them through their difficulties, which led me to pursue a graduate degree in social work and become a therapist.
14. What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work for me is getting to know a person on a deeper level and hearing about the progress they’ve made in their life. It’s been an honor to have moments with patients in which we reflect on how far we’ve come together and hearing them make choices and pursue goals that bring them happiness and fulfillment.
15. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I have found that I have an eclectic and flexible approach to the work, I’m willing to incorporate various techniques from different modalities–whatever will help further the work or be beneficial for the patient. I feel that my use of metaphors, anecdotes, and imagery is unique to my approach, as I believe it allows patients to examine their difficulties and conflicts with creativity, levity, and detachment. I also feel that I’m willing to ask challenging questions or show vulnerability when it feels appropriate. I believe this can help move the work forward if it reaches a point of stagnation or impasse.
16. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
Going back to the question about self-disclosure, I feel that it is important to create a space in which we are able to interact with one another as human beings who may be coming from different backgrounds and have had different experiences in life. I’m hopeful to be able to openly connect and come to an understanding of how our backgrounds might influence our dynamic and the way we experience the world.
17. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
You can tell that you are benefiting from working with me if you’re feeling more confident about yourself and less inhibited in your relationships, more motivated and engaged in your daily life, and more hopeful about your future.
18. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I might be able to tell if you’re feeling stuck if we find ourselves in a repetitive and familiar place in our sessions. It would then be my role to help you explore and identify if there’s an unmet need or an unresolved issue that you’re having difficulty working through. I might be able to tell if you’re feeling unheard or unseen if I’m feeling tension in the room or unexplained anger toward me. I would then hope to have an opportunity to apologize and work through what could have happened in our dynamic that left you with unwanted and unpleasant feelings.
19. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
At the very beginning, I think it is important to come to the relationship with a degree of openness as it can take a few sessions to develop chemistry and get a feel for one another. During this phase, I am more than happy to explore any ambivalence you might have about fit or personality and help you make the determination if you feel that there is an opportunity to work through your initial reservations, or if you feel that your needs would be better met working with someone else. Otherwise, I view therapy as an open-ended commitment that can go through many different phases but would recommend at least three to six months to assess how you feel therapy might be helping or not helping you.
20. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
I would like you to think about the moment in which you decided to pursue treatment and consider what was driving you to seek out help. I think it is important to not lose sight of this feeling as it can be an important ingredient in propelling you to make changes in your life.
I would also like you to get in touch with what you hope to accomplish in therapy and what you envision for your life. Similarly, I think it is valuable to have an idea or hope, even if it is a fleeting fantasy or vague sentiment, about what you want for your life.
21. Do I need to bring anything with me?
You’re welcome to bring any written reflections about your reasons for seeking treatment or what you feel has brought you to this point of your life.
22. What forms of payment do you accept?
Cash, check, electronic transfers.
23. Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
There’s a beautiful garden across the street.