Therapy with Alison
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.
In my practice you might see:
Moments of silence and stillness
Me as the therapist leading a client through a 5-10 min. meditation
You might also witness intellectual banter—two people who respect each other who are wanting to understand self, thoughts, and feelings
When I have children and teens in the room you might see me sitting on the floor, playing a game, or drawing while listening to music
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
My main values guiding my life and influencing my practice are that of Tibetan Buddhism and Internal Family Systems (IFS or parts work). That includes: acceptance, self-love, compassion, curiosity, and an exploration of the present moment.
I am also very inspired and interested in nature, the stars, the season and what we have to learn from the natural work all around us.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I don’t tend to disclose or share much about myself in sessions. I believe strongly in the power of the therapeutic relationship. If someone were to know too much about me, it could be hard for me to be what they need me to be in the healing relationship. But I always invite people to ask me questions or say what’s on their mind, even if (or especially if) it’s about me. When it comes to disclosure, and how much I share in sessions about myself personally, I truly consider what each person needs and wants.
How participatory are you during sessions?
From time to time I can and will take the lead in a session, especially with children and teens.
Most often in my work with adults, I want the client to lead and be the person who is digging deep. I am there to support that internal journey.
That said, I’m not quiet. I do talk and I do offer suggestions in the moment if they feel right, like doing a short meditation together or standing up to move in the room.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I do not tend to work with homework or assignments. I will ask people to track thoughts if that is work they are wanting to do or journal about a topic they were having a hard time talking about in session, but that is less homework and more a supportive therapeutic extension from therapy that someone can do or not do.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Our therapeutic relationship will be similar and very different to ones you have with friends/loved ones.
In your close relationships there can be a deep sense of love, support, and understanding; that, too, can form and be present in our relationship. Because the therapeutic relationship has very clear boundaries (i.e. when we meet, for how long, what you do and don’t know about me) very healthy and honest communication can form. Also I, or any therapist, unlike most friends, have training in how to talk about darker, harder, and more painful sides of life.
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, taking breaks from therapy or ending/graduating is something I do talk about with clients. Usually it comes up organically when one or both of us have begun to feel a shift. It’s not usually cut or dry (like person gets a job) but it can happen like that.
I would say as someone is in therapy they are continuing to deepen their own relationship with herself/himself. If anything, the client will have the insight and the idea to end therapy and as the therapist it is my job to explore and guide that.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
Prior to private practice I was working as a clinical social worker in an agency setting at Henry Street Settlement. I also worked in a rape crisis program at Columbia Pres Hospital called DOVE, and before that did home visits and ran a variety of groups with SCO Children and Families in Corona Queens.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I am a certified yoga teacher through the Yandara Yoga Institute and I am a meditation guide and teacher through Shambhala. I have also started IFS (internal family systems) training as well as Hakomi.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Life experiences and a deep desire to be of benefit to the people around me led me to become a social worker. I was practically drawn to social work because it has a social justice bent and people with this degree do many inspiring things, including therapy, but also, much much more.
What is the best part of the work for you?
Meeting new clients and figuring out how we are going to work together in our unique way, then doing that work, and witnessing people grow over time.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
My work is very similar to many therapists’ out there, but I would say what makes me different is my Buddhist path, my deep understanding of the benefits of mindfulness meditation, and my ability to creatively usher people in and around those powerful tools.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I never assume someone is like me or who I think they are. Whether someone identifies like I do or totally different I want to know your experience. I’m curious and I ask lots of questions.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Like in any relationship there tends to be an open quality to the air during a session. Body language, tone, and what content is coming up and out usually give me good signs if you are benefiting from the work.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
On the flip side, this is also something we can both feel in the room. Body language, and changes in topic of conversation can let me know if someone is feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard.
It’s okay to be stuck in therapy. It’s not as okay to be unseen or unheard, but that’s all workable, can be explored, and discussed. Sometimes in order to get to the most important work in therapy you have to experience some stuckness or resistance so you can break through to a new understanding or insight.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
Only you can answer that question, but if you are hoping to do deep work I would say 1-2 years if not more.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Us talking on the phone before your first session can be helpful. Just being ready and open to talk and share a bit about who you are would be most helpful.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Nope, I will ask you to fill out a short form at your first session so knowing the phone number of your ICE (incase of emergency contact) would be helpful.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
My office is down a long hall from the elevator, so if you come, just keep walking!
Alison Pepper is undoubtedly one of the most talented clinicians with whom I have ever worked. She is thoughtful, reflective, insightful, and beautifully creative. She makes any shared space one that feels safe and validating. I am lucky to consult and collaborate with her regularly. I know how much her clients value the support, guidance, and insight she provides. -Landis Bejar, LMHC