Therapy with Ariel
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is an experiential process of getting unstuck mentally, physically, and emotionally. It helps us transform old patterns of how we think, feel, and move through the world, so that we can continually grow into who we want to become. Therapy supports us in fostering authentic expression and connection to ourselves and others, so that we may live freer, fuller, more vibrant lives.
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: Mr. X starts coming to me to address a persistent feeling of extreme fear. Early on in sessions, he recognizes that the main experience of the fear lives in his chest. I begin to help him become aware of more of his whole body through dialogue and gentle touch. For instance, he practices noticing his feet and legs. I make contact with his neck and shoulders to bring more awareness there. The sensation in his chest immediately starts to lighten up a bit as his attention and awareness expands through more of his body.
In a later session, Mr. X’s body looks like it wants to curl up in a ball. I share this with him and ask if this resonates. He says Yes, and then proceeds to do so slowly. As he moves into this position, he is reminded of a time when he was 4 years old when he was severely injured by a falling glass object, and his mother was unable to offer him sympathy or concern. Rather, he recalls that she made it about her own failings as a mother to properly care for him. As we unpack some of his anger and hurt that she was not able to support him in the way that he needed, his breath begins to deepen and his muscles which were formerly very clenched begin to soften and release. I encourage this release again through gentle touch and supportive presence.
Example 2: Ms. Y starts coming to me while going through a challenging period in her personal and professional life. She is very anxious all the time, and has frequent trouble sleeping. She has injured her shoulder making it hard to accomplish what she normally does at work, and her voice is often very shaky when speaking in a work setting. In her sessions, she chooses to sit in a chair, or lie down on the massage table, and/or move around the room in ways that feel good for her body.
We talk a lot about the sensations she notices in her body. I use hands-on contact at different places (torso, arms, legs, neck) depending on what she needs to support her process. For instance, sometimes she needs firmer steadier contact to feel more supported. Other times she needs more of a sweeping hands-on motion or a kneading motion to move the energy through stuck places in her body. We work with guided imagery generated by what she’s noticing, or sometimes suggested by me.
Over time she realizes that she frequently overextends herself so as not to disappoint others. Her attention is almost always focused outward on her boyfriend and other friends, and even though she takes care of herself in appearance, she rarely spends time tending to herself the way that she works so hard to do for others. We work on strengthening her sense of boundaries, imagining a protective supportive material surrounding her so that she can have the embodied experience of saying “No” to what she does not want to let into her personal space, or if she doesn’t want to do something. We practice lots of grounding techniques to help reduce her anxiety. We also practice having her shine the light of her attention inward, and finding rest and relaxation there, so that when she does return to interacting with others she has more energy to do it.
Her voice continues to get stronger, she is finding more balance in her personal relationships, her anxiety has greatly reduced, and though her shoulder pain still flares up occasionally when she overextends herself, she is able to catch it sooner than she could before, and to make different choices about how she moves it.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I believe that our body-mind-selves are always seeking healing and balance, and that if we can learn how to listen and use the maps of our emotions, sensations, and thoughts as a guide, we will be led to this healing energy every time. I also strongly value having a sense of humor even, and especially, as we process some of the most difficult and darkest aspects of life.
4. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I intentionally share things about myself when it seems like me sharing could further serve my client’s own healing process. Beyond that, the sessions are first and foremost about my client, not about me, so I never want to take time or energy away from a client by talking about myself just for the heck of it.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
I’m pretty active, checking in with clients to see what they’re noticing, offering guidance or things to try. Sometimes there will be extended periods of silence while a client moves into a deeper experience physically/emotionally/mentally, or comes to a place of quiet and rest, but even in the silence I’m always participating by staying aware of what’s happening with them to make sure it’s not too much, and that they’re able to stay present.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
It depends on a person’s interests, goals, and experience from session to session. Sometimes I recommend different kinds of journals/notebooks to keep between sessions, paying attention to different things. Sometimes I recommend practicing different kinds of meditations. I’ll also send along articles or book recommendations when useful. However, often if a person has had a big release in a session, I just recommend they drink a lot of water and go gently with themselves for the next few days, because that’s the best way for the experience to be integrated.
7. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
My primary job is to provide a private safe space for you to share your experiences openly and honestly, and to work through some of the more challenging aspects of life. Even though we will connect with each other during our time together, you never need to worry about my wants or needs. I am here to serve your well-being! Together we will discover and learn how you can better care for yourself, so that your relationships with friends and loved ones can improve in turn. Everything you share will be kept confidential except in the rare case that I am concerned for your safety or well-being outside of a session, in which case I may share your information with an appropriate third-party who can offer extra support.
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?
Self-understanding and growth is an ongoing process of a lifetime if you want it to be. I encourage clients to stay as long as they continue to feel curious about what they’re learning in their work with me. For some people this may mean working together for a few months, for others this may mean working together for years. This doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Sometimes difficult emotions arise, and it can be important not to shut down the process out of fear. However, if things feel like they are kind of plateauing in the process, I check in with clients to see how they’re doing, if their goals have changed, and how we might adjust our time together etc. If it seems like they may benefit more from working with another kind of practitioner, I am happy to offer referrals.
9. Where did you work before going into private practice?
I did everything from working in an afterschool program teaching leadership skills through the arts to underserved kids in NYC public schools, to working at a bakery, to working in post-production for a television company. I am grateful for all of my different work experiences helping me to understand different ways of living and being in the world.
10. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have more than 5 years experience working with people in chronic pain, as well as people in the LGBTQIA community.
11. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I was and continue to be profoundly moved by my own experiences with the mind-body connection and wanted to share the gifts of this work with others. It is such an honor to serve people in this way.
12. What is the best part of the work for you?
I love seeing people realize new things about themselves, have the capacity to make new choices, and generally feel better and stronger and more resilient.
13. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I work with the unique intersection and expression of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, movement, breath and voice. Integrating all of these different elements in sessions spurs profound and lasting changes.
14. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I am always working to educate myself about different backgrounds and experiences of being in the world. Rather than assuming that I know best, or telling people what to do, I listen with my whole self to a person’s individual experience and let the process emerge from that.
15. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Initial symptoms/concerns will lessen. Often times people’s bodies and faces will change to become more open and expressive. People will also report how they have been able to apply what they’ve been experiencing/practicing within sessions to their outside lives.
16. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I am always staying aware of a client’s breath, muscle tension, tone of voice, and facial expressions to notice when “the flow” gets interrupted, or when things are going smoothly.
17. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
After the first session to see if my way of working resonates with you, I recommend committing to at least 8-12 sessions before reassessing whether or not you’d like to continue.
18. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
The best way to prepare is to come with curiosity about your own healing process, and clear intentions on what you’re hoping to gain. Your intentions may be as open as, “I just want to feel better/calmer/freer” or as specific as “I want to address that time in my life when ________.”
19. Do I need to bring anything with me?
In order to allow your body to be more at ease it's best to refrain from wearing anything that restricts your mobility. If you wear a skirt or dress, please bring shorts or pants to put on underneath as we may do table work. Sleeveless tops are not recommended. Please also wear or bring a pair of socks.