Therapy with Landis
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I believe that all humans are inherently good and want to better themselves. I believe all my clients are the experts of their own issues and challenges and that I am there merely as a supportive copilot on this journey where you are first in command. I am here to be the supportive confidant, the gentle confronter, and the illuminator of emotional experience.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Though I describe myself as a very “relational” therapist - one who promotes warmth, friendliness, and emotional closeness as important factors of the therapeutic relationship - I generally share very little about myself with clients, the primary reason being that therapy is a time-constricted investment that people make in themselves, and I generally find it inappropriate to use your session time to talk about myself or turn the focus on me!
How participatory are you during sessions?
That really depends on the client. I always start my work with clients using a questionnaire that I’ve developed to help me get to know you. This questionnaire might take anywhere from 1-3 of the first sessions to complete, during which time I’m steering the ship a little bit more. This gives me a nice foundation for getting to know a new client before jumping in to the deeper therapeutic work, which is really quite impossible when you’ve just met someone. It also gives new clients and especially new therapy-goers a little comfort and less “pressure” to “do therapy right” when they just have to answer questions rather than generate the content of sessions.
By the time we finish this questionnaire, we’ve developed a nice initial rapport and folks usually feel comfortable to lead with the topics that are most relevant to them from week to week. At that point, I take a backseat and more of a listener role. As we move through our work together and get more comfortable in our relationship, I take cues from clients about how active they like me to be in sessions. I encourage clients to give me this type of feedback directly.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
The short answer: not typically, but sometimes.
Longer answer: My work is more informed by techniques that work within the “here and now” emotional experience that occurs in the therapy session, so that’s where our energy is usually focused - our sessions. I also have found that with busy New Yorkers, therapy homework almost always just becomes an extra point of stress, rather than something positive, so I try to shy away from it.
With all this said, you might find me making some suggestions of inter-session topics to think about, such as highlighting a theme that was discussed during the session and seeing how it shows up in your day-to-day life; seeing if a relaxation technique we used in session could be helpful during a stressful moment; or checking out an app or book that we mentioned in session.
Another way I might use “homework” is for a new therapy-goer or someone who has trouble remembering the things they want to focus on in session. I use a couple logging techniques which help to make notes of the important parts of your week and bring them into therapy to discuss in an intentional way. This is really helpful for someone who comes in with the “So many things happened this week that I wanted to talk about, but now I can’t remember any of them!” situation.
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?
Therapy can look very different, depending on who you see, but starting therapy with me looks something like this:
We have a phone call so that I can understand a bit about what’s going on for you and what you’re looking for in your therapy and therapist. You get a chance to hear my voice, ask me questions, and see if I generally feel like someone comfortable to talk to. We also get to talk about logistics like location, availability, and cost. From there, if we both are in agreement that we’d like to move forward, we will schedule a first appointment. We can also each agree to take some time to think about it. If you would like to call 1-2 other therapists to get a point of reference, you should definitely do that (but I wouldn’t suggest overwhelming yourself with more than 3 consultation calls).
At your first session, you’ll come to my office. I’ll meet you in my reception area and you’ll complete 3 forms which shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. These forms deal with privacy laws, emergency protocol, and payment procedures. From there, I’ll check to see if you have any questions or concerns about the paperwork, check in to see how you’re feeling about getting started, and go over the questionnaire I use to get to know people. I’ll ask your permission to start with the questionnaire, rather than jump in.
The questionnaire asks basic questions like address and occupation; identity questions like race, religion, cultural background; relationship questions about friends, family, and romance, and therapy questions like your prior experiences in therapy, and goals for this time. I encourage clients to take as many tangents as they like as we move through this questionnaire; I think it’s a nice way to get to know people as a whole person - not just as a reflection of the issues which brought them into therapy.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
The therapy relationship is very unique. It’s a place where you can share your most intimate concerns and fears, your most vulnerable shames and discomforts, and get to know your most powerful motivators and strengths.
At the same time, this will be a one-way relationship. I am here for you only. You do not have to worry about me the same way you would a friend or loved one. I am here only to support you. That anonymity and one-directionality allows for you to be as vulnerable and honest as possible, because you do not have to (and should not have to) worry about me and my feelings or judgments.
Finally, there are some boundaries that are put in place to maintain this relationship. Our conversations will be limited to the session time we schedule for ourselves. If you need me in between sessions, we will need to schedule something - either in person or over the phone. Without those boundaries, we would not be able to have this uniquely close relationship, so we are always mindful of boundaries and the professional role I play in your life.
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?
The main reason I initiate each therapeutic relationship with identifying therapeutic goals is so that both the client and I have a sense of what the client would like to accomplish in therapy, therefore understanding what it would mean to “graduate.” Sometimes these goals are really clearcut, and meeting that milestone is obvious. Other times, we notice that our sessions have become more like check-ins rather than what they looked like when we began our work. In these cases, I might invite the client to reflect about the role of therapy in the their life and whether it feels like it’s less needed than before. Sometimes, it’s nice to have someone to check-in with and we stick with what’s working, sometimes we reduce frequency, sometimes we take a break.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
Before private practice, I have worked (and still work part time) for a large social services nonprofit called Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side. 125 years old in 2018, Henry Street is one of the pioneers of social justice in New York City and this country. My time at Henry Street focused primarily on working in the Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, where I’ve treated adult clients from age 18-80, coping with a wide range of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, work stress, relational difficulties, substance abuse, self-esteem, and financial stress.
In addition to my time in the Outpatient Clinic working with adults, I also worked as a member of the School-Based Mental Health team, where I was the therapist at a school-based satellite clinic of an elementary school. In this role, I worked with school-aged kids and their families coping with much of the same issues, as well as test taking anxiety, school adjustment, ADHD, and disruptive behaviors.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have obtained specialized post-masters training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), emotionally focused therapy (EFT), motivational interviewing (MI), and mindfulness-based stress reduction.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work is when a client has an insight about themself that seems so profound you can almost see the puzzle in their mind coming together. Through a look on their face, a nod, or a “yes, exactly.” It’s what therapy is all about - being heard, seen, and understood in your most vulnerable self, and feeling okay about it. That is the most meaningful and the best part.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
The feedback that I get from my clients about how my style is different from other experiences in therapy is a feeling of warmth and comfortability from very early on in the therapy-seeking process. I’ve received this type of feedback on an initial consultation call, the first appointment, all the way through the most challenging moments of therapy.
More specifically, my niche practice, AisleTalk focuses on the ways in which the life transition and milestone of planning a wedding can often bring up stresses, anxieties, mood changes, and relationship strains that lead people to seek out therapy at any point in their lives. My practice is acutely aware of how this time period can bring up all these things at onceand all in a relatively short period of time. So this practice is especially unique in its ability to identify this uniquely stressful time, which often masquerades as “perfect” and “blissful,” and find short-term, evidenced-based therapeutic techniques and support that can help ease the tension around the process.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I welcome diversity and have extensive training in providing culturally competent and affirming therapy. Identity differences that feel present in the therapy room are met with openness and curiosity, rather than “elephant-in-the-room” avoidance. I find that I often do the richest work with clients who I haven’t shared exact experiences with, because it ensures that I’m my most curious and fascinated self.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
That looks so different for everyone, but a couple of clues might be: If you generally have ideas or topics that you find important to bring up in therapy, if you find that you are thinking about things in your life slightly different than before you came in; if you start to feel better; if you feel connected to the work and the therapist; if you feel like the conversations matter to you; if you feel challenged and supported; if you feel like you’re not alone in your journey toward your goals.
If you’re in couples therapy, you might feel like you are having different conversations with your partner, rather than the same record playing over and over again; or like you’ve started to see a new perspective that you hadn’t before.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
We all feel stuck from time to time; that’s what therapy is for. I try to cultivate a relationship where you can go at your pace to make change and not feel ashamed. If you’re feeling stuck in therapy, I encourage clients to be honest with me. If I feel like I’m not the expert you need, or we’ve been trying at something for awhile and not getting any closer, I might ask you if that’s what you’re feeling too. Usually we’re connected enough to both be on the same page about something like that and we can process it together, like we do all the other challenging topics we discuss in our sessions.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I would say 1 month to feel comfortable with your therapist, 2-3 months to feel comfortable with the idea of therapy in general, 4-6 months to feel some relief (but that is highly dependent on what issues you’re coming in with).
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
If you’ve thought about coming to therapy and made the call, you’ve already done enough! Just bring in yourself, your struggles, some thoughts on what things you’d like to be better, and your open mind.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
I will send all instructions on how to find the building, suite, and office before our first appointment.