Therapy with Hannah
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is an opportunity to explore parts of oneself that might be causing distress, sadness, or worry. It allows an individual the time and space to process aspects of their identity that they may be looking to change, the permission to express emotions that might not feel safe to release otherwise, and the ability to recognize patterns in relationships over time. Therapy offers insight, self reflection, and the ability to come into contact with our most authentic selves.
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.
-I have worked with individuals and couples with various issues and stressors that they want to work on in therapy. In one example, I was working with a young woman who had been single for a long time and was having difficulty dating. Through our work together, she was able to better understand her own inhibitions about the process, her fears of intimacy and closeness, and the impact of some of her earlier trauma on her ability to be vulnerable with others.
-Another client described his difficulty differentiating from his parents and asserting his autonomy and independence. He reported that he felt an obligation to be in constant contact with his parents, to visit with them frequently, and to put his family’s needs before his own. In therapy he recognized that he had been sabotaging his own growth and independence by focusing exclusively on the wellbeing of his parents and sister, and that he needed to reconsider his boundaries with his family members so that he could prioritize his own emotional needs.
-A couple came in expressing that they have difficulty communicating. One partner explained that she gets stuck in anxious thoughts and that she has difficulty diverting her thoughts. She reported that her partner grew frustrated with her worries and was dismissive of them. As their therapist, I provided the woman with some techniques to decrease her worry and anxiety, and facilitated conversation with both partners about how they could understand each other’s differing position, while also validating the frustration they must both feel.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I do not self disclose much about my personal life, unless I believe it is clinically relevant and can advance the conversation. I believe that my patients have a good sense of my character from my warm and engaging temperament and the insight that I offer them in sessions.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I am an active listener and am very engaged in session. I believe that each client has different needs regarding therapist involvement, and therefore I may modify my response according to the client’s preferences. I will often make connections based upon what a client has shared with me, identify the patterns that I have observed in my clients’ behavior, pose questions to my clients about their motivations for thoughts and actions, and will also explain and demonstrate various coping skills that may be helpful in addressing issues concerning anxiety, depression, trauma, and relaxation.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Generally I do not assign homework, though at times I think it can be useful for a client to apply something from our sessions into their own life as a way to gain deeper self awareness and to reflect on their thoughts and behaviors outside of the therapy room. Most often this looks like practicing a new breathing technique, grounding or relaxation exercise, or charting the occurrence of negative thoughts and feelings. I may also make book, film, or podcast recommendations to clients if I believe it will be helpful to them.
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?
Beginning therapy can feel like a daunting task if you have never been and/or if you are starting with a new practitioner. It takes courage to recognize that you need help and then to take the steps to access it. My role as your therapist is to offer you an open, trusting, and non-judgmental space wherein you can feel comfortable to express your concerns. You can expect that, like any other relationship, our rapport will build over time. In the beginning of therapy, you may feel more reserved about sharing, and then as we get to know each other, you may feel less inhibited and more open to share.
A good way to know if you are ready to begin therapy is if you are experiencing yourself and/or the world differently. This means that you may notice a change in your mood, your motivation to do activities you once enjoyed, frustration and agitation with others around you, worry about the unknown, or feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Sometimes a person may enter therapy after experiencing a major life event (loss of a loved one, ending of a relationship, transition in career or family), while at other times, a person is wanting to gain clarity and understanding around their longstanding habits and relational patterns.
Regardless of the reason that brings you in, it is important for you to have a space to process all of the complex feelings you may be experiencing.
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, there are times in which a client has achieved their goals and we both agree that it is time for the client to move on. Some clients have more short-term goals, while others have longer-term goals, and therefore the length of treatment depends on the client’s needs and if they believe that they feel prepared to move forward with the new skills and ideas acquired in therapy. I talk openly with my clients about how they feel the therapy is going so that I can make any changes needed to make the process as effective and accessible as possible.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I currently work part-time at an outpatient mental health clinic in Manhattan, and I have worked in several other settings before going into private practice as well.
The majority of my experience has been in community mental health clinics providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families, and I have also worked in school settings with young adults and adolescents.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I received my master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Hunter College School of Social Work. I am also currently enrolled in a certificate program for Relational Psychotherapy at the Stephen Mitchell Relational Center.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I became a mental healthcare provider after years spent working in the helping profession (teaching, tutoring, mentoring) and realizing that the aspect of the work I enjoyed the most was connecting on the individual level with people, learning their stories, and helping them to navigate their challenges with greater confidence, support, and ease.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work is helping people to help themselves. I love when my clients are able to notice shifts in their behavior in which they have pushed past their fears, set new boundaries in relationships, and/or moved forward with their goals (i.e. getting a new job, being more assertive in relationships, finding a secure and loving partner, coping with past trauma, decreasing their anxiety and depression).
I find that I am very attuned to my clients and that I have the ability to make them feel seen and heard in ways that they have not experienced before. I offer my clients support and validation, while also challenging them to consider their role in the distress they may be experiencing.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I work from an anti-racist, anti-oppressive lens and believe it is important to discuss issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality as it relates to my clients’ experience. Since I work from a relational lens, I am mindful of the way that my identity interacts with the client and in how it might inform our dynamic.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
You can tell if you are benefitting from our work together if you notice a shift in your thinking or behavior that aligns with the goals you have for yourself and if you find yourself gaining curiosity and self awareness. Therapy is a process of exploring and uncovering parts of oneself. If you find that you are able to understand and identify patterns in your behavior, improve your relationships with others and/or yourself, this is a good indicator for the growth and progress you are making in therapy.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
There may be many reasons for you feeling stuck in therapy. If I notice that you are becoming distant (i.e. missing our sessions) or if I identify a shift in your mood or perspective about the process, I will encourage you to discuss any reservations or inhibitions you may be having about our work.
I am confident that in exploring the “stuck” feeling, we can work together to identify the factors that might be causing you to feel dissatisfied in your treatment and to find a solution together. I am always open to your feedback and suggestions and strive to create a place where you can feel empowered and inspired, rather than stuck and inhibited.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I believe that 3-6 months is a good time frame, as it allows us the chance to get to know each other, to develop trust and rapport, and for you to explore different facets of yourself that you may be wanting to address.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Just bring an open mind to the process and the willingness to talk about yourself and explore who you are.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
No, just yourself.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
My office is located close to the 2/3/B/Q trains and is located on the garden level of a brownstone.
“Hannah is a warm, empathetic, and deeply attuned therapist. She is creative in how she works and utilizes new modalities, current research, and a wonderful sense of humor to help guide her patients on a path towards wholeness and happiness”