Therapy with Ariella
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a collaborative process of working together to shift thoughts, behaviors or feelings that are getting in the way of you reaching your full potential. Therapy involves talking through personal struggles in a non-judgmental, safe, and empathic space. With specific goals in mind, we will talk about what has been concerning you and try and help you come to a greater understanding of the issue/s along with an enhanced ability to cope with them.
2. Please share anonymized examples of how the work can play out/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect:
Example 1: A young woman came into see me after graduating from college. She was feeling lost, depressed and highly anxious as she didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue. She was also struggling with the relationship with her parents, as she was living back at home with them after having been away during college. During therapy we worked on identifying ways that she could label and express her feelings more effectively to reduce her panic and anxiety. We identified areas of interest that could translate into prospective jobs/career paths, and worked on building her confidence so that she could interview more effectively. Over the course of the work together this young woman began to assert herself more freely with her parents and started to feel more independent again, like she had in college. She started to feel more confident as she developed competencies and strengths as a working woman. Our work focused both on generating insight into the ways that she would internalize things her parents said that made her feel terribly about herself, and also on specific tools to help her navigate the life stressors she was facing (i.e. interviewing, dating).
Example 2: A new father came to see me complaining of irritability, stress and lethargy. He was struggling with feeling that he wasn’t as connected to his wife following the birth of their son and was noticing himself feeling angry and upset when at home. He felt useless in caring for his newborn son, which was particularly hard. During therapy we uncovered much about the way that he tends to retreat when he doesn’t feel obviously needed, and the way that this coping mechanism perpetuated a cycle of feeling left out of the family. We created practice exercises for him to try at home that would slowly integrate him into the new routines of caring for his son, and also worked on how he could express his feelings to his wife in a way that she could understand and respond to. We also recognized through this work that there were deep roots to some of these feelings in that this patient had a brother with special needs who took up a lot of the attention in his family of origin when he was growing up, so he learned to be self-sufficient and withdraw when he sensed feeling not needed. The combination of insight and tools helped this patient feel more connected to his family and allowed him to navigate stress at home in a way that felt much better to him.
3. Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I deeply value the work I do with my patients, and truly enjoy helping people move beyond roadblocks in their lives. For me - empathy, human connection and a sense of humor are woven into all of my work. There are many theorists who have influenced my theoretical perspective, however, these values really inform my work at its core.
4. How participatory are you during sessions?
I am a participatory therapist. I work with my patients at their pace, and for some this requires more listening and others more active/participatory approaches. Overall, I listen deeply, and there are sessions when patients have much to say that needs to flow, but I believe that there is value in moving the work forward with interventions that generate insight and lead to change.
5. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I don’t regularly assign homework or activities in between sessions, although there are times when it is helpful. I find that the most productive therapies come when patients are able to really think about what we have discussed during sessions while going through their day-to-day and can bring their reactions/thoughts/feelings back into session the next week. At times, people may request or require some assistance in practicing how to think more critically about what comes up in therapy and this is when in-between session work can be helpful.
6. 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?
I am always mindful of what a patient’s goals are in therapy. We will discuss progress throughout therapy and when the time comes, will talk about when a good ending place might be. Each therapy is curated to the individual. For some people, their goals are long-term and for others they have focused, short-term goals. I provide both long and short term therapy.
It’s common for someone’s goals or ideas about what she/he wants out of therapy to shift over time, and this is something we will discuss throughout as well. I always encourage discussion about progress and how someone feels about therapy - where we are headed and have come from.
7. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
If someone is interested in something about me I will typically share the answer with them assuming it’s something I think can be helpful and useful for that person to know. I do believe therapy is a space for my patients to feel they can bring up whatever is on their minds, and am always mindful of the impact of what I say or disclose. At times there are instances that I feel sharing something about myself might actually hinder a person feeling safe or completely able to speak about what is on their mind. In these instances I will be transparent about my concerns and we can discuss the best way to handle the situation. In general, I believe in transparency and being direct so that patients feel they understand where I am coming from and why I am asking or saying what I do.
8. 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?
People start therapy for so many different reasons. Recognizing that something isn’t feeling quite right, and taking steps towards doing something about it is a sign of strength. There really is no rule for knowing when or why to start therapy, as there isn’t such a thing as “not a big enough problem.” If there is something in your life that is causing worry or concern, that is a good enough reason to start therapy.
If you have never been before, you can expect a safe and non-judgmental place to express yourself and your concerns. I will help facilitate your telling me about yourself and your concerns in the first session and will give you space to ask any questions you have about how therapy works and express any concerns you might have. You might expect it to feel somewhat strange at first, but most people report that it is a relief to finally get things off their chest that have been building up for some time.
9. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
In many ways. I have a trained, professional ear that is non-judgmental and non-biased. I don’t have a stake in the resolution of your struggles in the same way a family member or friend might, which makes my approach more objective. I have many years of training and experience that has taught me techniques and skills to help people overcome obstacles in their lives. Patients often feel that it is a relief to know that their stories and secrets will be kept safe and they have time that is exclusively devoted to their problems and concerns. Our time together is designed to only focus on you. This can help to alleviate concerns that people can have about burdening friends and family with their problems.
10. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I embrace differences and diversity in the room, and encourage each patient to tell me about their identity/ies in different ways throughout treatment. At times cultural differences and/or similarities can play a role in a patient’s comfort level during therapy, and this is something that I discuss with patients and encourage open and honest dialogue about throughout our work together.
11. What is the best part of the work for you?
I truly value the connection that I build with each of my patients. I appreciate the depth and intimate nature of the work we do together, and believe that a solid relationship is what really defines a good therapy.
12. How can I tell if I am benefitting from working with you?
If we are deepening our conversations, or noticing shifts in your thoughts, behaviors or feelings. These are all signs of benefiting from our work together. This is always part of our dialogue. I encourage discussion about this throughout therapy. I think being able to discuss our therapeutic relationship and the therapy progress is a big part of the work, and one that I bring up with some frequency.
13. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
This is a really important question. I will often check-in with my patients about their feelings about therapy, and encourage an open dialogue about our work together. I pay close attention to how someone reacts during session, and will make significant efforts to help each patient appreciate that I am invested in hearing about concerns, or answering questions to help our therapeutic relationship develop.
14. Where did you work before going into private practice?
I have worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics and university/college settings. Most recently, I worked in college counseling centers for the past 10 years. Currently, I hold a faculty position in the Doctoral Program at Fordham University training and supervising graduate students who are learning to become psychologists. I have maintained my private practice throughout my work in these settings, and expanded it significantly over the past few years, as I particularly enjoy working with patients to help facilitate change and growth in their lives.
15. Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I hold a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a NYS License as a Psychologist. I have a post-licensure certificate in perinatal mental health, which means that a portion of my practice is devoted to working with parents/women struggling with mental health issues related to trying to conceive a child, mental health complications during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period.
16. Do you have experience (5-10+years) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have collaborated with many athletic coaches and Physical Therapists, Sports Medicine Physicians to provide therapy for injured athletes. This is a speciality of mine in my practice and while I worked in the University Counseling Setting.
I have worked for many years with young adult populations in University Counseling Settings, so this is also an area of expertise.
17. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least at the beginning?
It can take time to determine whether therapy is working, and some sessions might feel particularly hard because the work inherently involves discussing and working through issues that can be painful. I typically encourage patients to try therapy for at least a month or two before making a decision about how they feel about treatment, but we will discuss your feelings and reactions to the process and to my questions and interventions throughout these sessions.
18. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
There isn’t something specific you need to prepare for the first session. This is really an opportunity for you to tell me about yourself, the reasons you are seeking out therapy now, and to ask any questions of me that you might have. Some people find it useful to organize their thoughts in particular ways that they seek comfort in, and if this is the case for you, I encourage you to do this. However, there really isn’t anything in particular you need to prepare.
19. Do I need to bring anything with me?
There are a few forms on my website that you can print out and bring with you, but when we speak over the phone for our phone consultation we will discuss this.