Therapy with Jamie
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a commitment to oneself to set aside focused time on feelings, thoughts and experiences that need processing. It is a place to heal and grow if one is open to it. It can be a reparative experience to relate to another human who shows curiosity about your experience. Having family and friends who love and listen to you is wonderful. When working on personal challenges, however, I find that having a trained professional with an objective ear can allow for more ease in expressing authentic feelings without the fear of offending someone they know and love.
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.
Many clients wonder what a session will look like since I use creative arts and playful interventions. Sessions will look different depending on the needs and preferences of the client. But here are 2 examples of what it looked like for 2 other individuals I have worked with.
1) One of my clients had experienced a sexual trauma and often she did not feel like talking about what happened to her. When we introduced art-making into our sessions together, she felt more relaxed and freer to open up about the details of her trauma. I provided various materials for drawing such as colored pencils, markers and crayons as well as paper with a blank mandala (or circle design) for the both of us as a container for our creations. Using the creative arts can help us access our unconscious and allow us to distance ourselves from the trauma or any issue we are working on in therapy.
2) Another one of my clients had experienced physical and psychological abuse as a child from his father. Because the abuse came when he misbehaved in school or got less than a perfect score on a test, my client had grown up as a high achiever motivated by fear. He was working on his social anxiety and perfectionistic tendencies with me in therapy. Using DvT (a playful technique in drama therapy), the client and I engaged in things such as role play and sound and movement. This helped the client to be more flexible in his life, more gentle on himself as our goal in the play was to “not get it right.” Over time, the client enjoyed playing in this way and was able to begin a new romantic relationship and expand his social network.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I strongly believe that every individual has the ability to heal themselves. As a therapist and coach, I understand that therapy is a very personal investment for someone, and that takes courage. While I view the therapeutic relationship as a co-creative experience, ultimately, the individual must find the strength to show up for themself. It can be very empowering to be witnessed, supported and encouraged in this process by a trained professional.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I will share about my own personal experience if I feel that it is relevant and will serve the client in their healing journey. I may choose not to share something if I feel it’s not relevant to the work at hand or if it seems like an unconscious diversion or way to avoid the client’s own current challenges.
How participatory are you during sessions?
It depends on the needs of the client that day. Sometimes, I will practice deep listening for most of the session, if that’s what serves the client the most. Other times, sessions will be more lively and conversational. When I use drama therapy techniques, I am often engaged “in the play” with my clients.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I often like to share resources in the form of self-care practices, podcasts, books, movies, or even social events that build community around town. I think trying new things, learning new perspectives and taking healthy risks are a big measure of how much a client is growing in sessions with me.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Having the love and support from family and friends is a wonderful thing. However, it’s a very different experience to sit with someone who has known you for your whole life as opposed to someone who is meeting you where you’re at right now. The therapist sees you through a more objective lens than any family member or friend. This can allow you to express yourself in new ways that can bring you more insight into who you are.
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?
Everyone grows at their own pace. I encourage my coaching clients to commit to at least 8 weeks to really be able to see growth and change in their life. However, I’m also a fan of ongoing support that can last as long as you need. I believe it’s helpful to have a therapist or coach who you can always check-in with even when things seem to be going well! There’s always more to explore as we are forever evolving.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I have worked in various settings including hospitals, senior living facilities, memory care units, public schools, an outpatient trauma clinic and a for-profit women’s wellness center teaching sex education and relationship wellness.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
Yes, I have a master’s in theatre / drama therapy from Kansas State University. In my post-graduate years, I worked and trained at a highly specialized trauma center where I learned two cutting edge approaches called trauma centered psychotherapy (T-CP) and Developmental Transformations (DvT), a dynamic, playful method in drama therapy. Additionally, I simultaneously completed my 3 year training at the DvT Institute in New York while working at the trauma center.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Years ago while I was working as a medical clown in hospitals all over New York City, I learned about drama therapy. Once I was able to observe drama therapy in action with a group at a psychiatric hospital, I was hooked. I saw the power of play and theatre pierce through the numbing side effects of heavy medication in a group of people who walked in the door seemingly barely conscious to walking out of the door looking ready take life by the horns. I had been an actor, improviser and clown for several years at that point, and I thought, “I want to go deeper with this work and help people wake up and come alive within themselves.”
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work is when I see that light go on inside of someone. That moment when they realize the strength within themselves and feel the spark of aliveness. Many times this moment happens when someone is expressing themselves creatively through art or drama or poetry or music… But sometimes the “Aha” moment happens in dialogue. It’s a true joy to witness.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
My work as a drama therapist is still considered unique as drama therapy as a field is still widely unknown to 99% of everyone I meet. Most people have heard of art or music therapy, and I usually use those examples as a point of reference for people who are new to drama therapy. Beyond that, I also like to combine alternative healing modalities such as Reiki and Access Bars® energy work to those clients who are open to receiving it. I have a gentle, intuitive approach as well and tend to tune into my own bodily sensations that I may be picking up from a client. This enables me to share information with them that might resonate with what they are experiencing themselves.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I think it's important to acknowledge diversity and difference in the first session and discuss what that brings up for the client. I use my curiosity to learn more about others who have a different background than I do, and I do as much research as I can to learn about someone's culture. When I don't know something, I admit it. Ultimately, I believe the client is the expert on themselves, and I seek to learn the most from them directly.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
I can tell if the client is benefiting by observing their joy through body language, eye contact, countenance and of course their self-reporting. When a client tells me they've taken a healthy risk or tried something new outside of our sessions, I know something is working.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Resistance is palpable. I can feel it in my own body when my client is resisting change and something is stuck inside. I use my own bodily experience and intuition to check-in with clients who might be feeling unseen, unheard or stuck.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I always encourage a commitment of at least 8 weeks. That gives you time to make change in your life and feel the relief of the healing process.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
There’s no need to prepare anything for the first session. Sometimes all it takes is to just show up, and that’s all I am asking of my clients. If it helps you to journal about specific things you’d like to work on in sessions with me, that’s wonderful. It’s helpful to have a starting point sometimes, but it’s not necessary. I welcome anything that comes up in the moment and trust that that’s what is ready to be healed.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Besides bringing yourself in whatever mood you might find yourself in (all moods are welcome), feel free to bring something you’ve created such as a piece of artwork or a song or a short film that you are proud of. Since we will be working creatively together, it’s always nice to see your creative style from the very beginning.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
If you are seeing me on a Sunday, please be mindful that the subway trains are sometimes delayed or re-routed. It’s best to leave some extra time in your commute in case you experience this kind of train delay.
“Playing with, and watching Jamie play with others has been an important part of my work for the last few years. She has an exquisite balance of tenderness and humor: helping you feel both comfortable enough to share, and brave enough to play with the stuff that can be challenging.” -Adam Reynolds, LCSW, RDT-BCT, CASAC, Restless Playspace DvT, NYC