Therapy with Jim
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 consider the therapeutic office to be a very sacred space, allowing a person to enter and comfortably share in a completely non judgemental, compassionate environment. Whether the session is individual, couples, family, or group, confidentiality is of critical importance.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I do not prescribe to any one particular philosophy or therapeutic framework. I have been trained, and I strongly believe that the client’s needs determine the path to be followed.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I share very little, if anything, because the sessions go by too quickly and it is not about me.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I have been trained to be a very active listener, and I will always ask a question or ask for clarification if I believe this will be a benefit to the client.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Again, it all depends on the needs of the person coming into therapy. If, for example, the person is new to recovery and has a brief period of abstinence under his or her belt, I strongly encourage exploring the 12-Step rooms to help build a support system. On the other hand, if the person coming in has many years of recovery, has been there and done that but is now entering therapy for a completely different issue, then I may not be so inclined to assign homework.
As for books, they belong in a completely different arena. There is always something worth reading, never before has so much wisdom been so available. Frequently a client will tell me about a book I never knew about, but you can bet it will be in my personal library quick enough.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
This is a therapeutic relationship, which demands rock solid boundaries that can never ever be crossed. Pretty cut and dry, no need to elaborate.
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?
Many years ago I was trained by a child psychiatrist who used to tell me, “If you stick around long enough, you’ll find another issue to work on.” As I stated previously, it all depends on the reasons for entering therapy, the initial goals in mind. Some people may decide to continue, others to take a break. It is not uncommon for people to meet other therapists they want to work with, which I gladly encourage them to explore. It’s all about the needs of the client, not the feelings of the therapist.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
Prior to private practice, I worked at a mental health clinic on Long Island, where I held several different job titles that allowed me to cover a wide age range. During this time I was responsible for making home visits to families who had a child, or children, discharged from inpatient psychiatric facilities. This position required me to be on call 24\7, so that allowed me the time to be a substance abuse counselor as well. For this position I conducted individual, couples, family and group sessions. In addition to this I also ran support groups for men and women on parole. While in graduate school I also interned as a therapist for children and adults at this clinic and also at a clinic associated with the university. All of this occurred while receiving ongoing supervision from the psychiatrist on staff.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
One of the many aspects of my profession that I enjoy is that I am always a student. There is always something to learn or brush up on. I spent ten years training and studying to become a certified psychodramatist, which is basically therapy in action as opposed to traditional talk therapy. Very powerful, but not for everyone.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I have always believed that becoming a therapist is a calling. I firmly believe that in order to be a qualified therapist, you have to first do your own work and then engage in your studies. This is definitely the long road, no question.
What is the best part of the work for you?
I really enjoy all aspects of my work, from the client who enters for the first time, those who have been coming for a while and are settling down, to those who have faced and defeated some tremendous obstacles.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
This is an art form as well as a science. Every therapist brings something unique to their profession that separates them from everyone else, just like all artists know how to hold a paintbrush, but we all have a different style. This is what makes our community so dynamic.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
True compassion does not know diversity. Meeting people from such a wide array of backgrounds found in this city is always fascinating and a joy.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
This insight comes out of the relationship between the client and the therapist. If the client is better off in another setting or with a different therapist, it is the responsibility of the current therapist to make it happen. This is keeping the client’s needs the priority.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Again, this insight comes out of the relationship between the therapist and the client, and must be addressed directly to benefit the client’s progress.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
It all depends on the issues presented, but I would say at least a couple of weeks.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Be kind to yourself, even if only for a little while, for taking such a courageous step. Then follow through with the commitment.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?