Therapy with Johna
Please share an anonymized example 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.
After Sam enters the room, the therapist asks her: “How did your homework go?” Sam describes her homework and then tells the therapist she would like to work on her anxiety regarding snorkeling because she will be going on vacation in the Caribbean soon.
Sam feels anxious when she thinks about the possibility of running into a jellyfish or even worse...a shark while snorkeling. Each breath of hers gets shorter and shorter as she thinkss about approaching the beach and putting on her snorkeling equipment.
The therapist asks her what her goal is for the session. Sam knows she wants to swim with gorgeous fish and look for huge turtles and she has heard so many wonderful things about life underwater that she wants the chance to experience this opportunity.
The therapist asks Sam to imagine being at the beach and getting ready to snorkel. Sam explains to the therapist that she notices her anxiety levels rising. The therapist asks Sam to tell the therapist about what Sam was telling herself in that moment. Sam states that she thought about what beliefs she had about possibly encountering dangerous ocean life.
Sam realizes she created the unhealthy story that it would be the worst thing in the world if she were stung by a jellyfish.
Then, the therapist asks Sam: “How is this helping you reach your goal of being concerned, but not overly anxious about dangerous sea life, while also enjoying your snorkeling experience?”
Sam says she knows it isn’t helping.
The therapist then disputes Sam’s belief by reminding her: “It would not be the worst thing in the world if I actually did get stung by a jellyfish.”
Additionally, Sam thinks through the likelihood of being stung and remembers that in her story she was with several people who would have been able to help her if she were stung.
She then creates a new story that goes something like this: “Although it might hurt some to be stung by a jellyfish, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, and I could stand it. Additionally, the likelihood of this happening is slim and my friends are near to help me out.”
Sam then begins to breathe deeper and is able to enjoy swimming with the fabulous sea creatures and reefs.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I share very little about myself and only if it is beneficial to your therapeutic needs. Sharing too much about myself can distract from your therapeutic goals.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I am involved more than most talk-therapy therapists. I listen carefully, but also interrupt and provide direction when necessary.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Yes. In order for you to apply the skills that you learn in session to your daily life, it is important for you to practice these skills outside of each week’s session.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Every time we meet, you will set a goal for yourself or continue working on a previous goal. We will be focused on you and your goals throughout our time together. Although I will encourage and support you, it is also my job to challenge and educate you throughout the process.
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. I would encourage you to attend sessions every other week when I think you seem to have a strong understanding and application of the skills you learn in session and if you report feeling well. Additionally, I offer a survey to all of my clients to fill out so I can get a sense of how well they are feeling. The survey gives me an idea of when it might be time for you to work toward ending therapy.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I worked at Sanctuary for Families, the Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice, had multiple research and teaching positions and worked at the Albert Ellis Institute as a Ph.D. fellow while working on my Social Work Ph.D.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
Yes, I completed the primary and secondary practica at the Albert Ellis Institute. I also completed a CBT-I training given by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, STRONG STAR & Consortium to Alleviate PTSD.
Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have 5-10+ years of working with people who struggle with excessive worry or anxiety. Additionally, I’ve worked this long with people who suffer from various traumas and domestic violence victims.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I have always enjoyed working with people and learning about their life stories. Additionally, I enjoy helping people find ways to feel better.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work for me is when a client reaches an “aha!” moment where they learn to apply certain skills and they recognize they are meeting their goals.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
The work I do is structured and goal-oriented. I interact more with my clients than some of my colleagues do.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I think this is something I mostly work on internally. However, if it is necessary to address the situation in a session, I would admit my ignorance around a specific issue and ask for the client to tell me about their experience with the situation.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
I can tell if you are benefiting from working with me when you are feeling better and you are able to apply the skills that have been taught in session.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I can tell if you are feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard if you are having a difficult time answering my questions, your body language in session changes, your behavior changes, or if you specifically tell me what you feel stuck, unseen, or unheard about.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
-Be ready to discuss any previous therapy work you’ve done.
-Have some idea about what your goals are for therapy (feel less anxious, stop biting nails, work through traumatic life event, etc.).
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Paper or something to take notes on.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?