Therapy with Lauren
From your perspective, what is therapy?
I believe therapy is a relationship (short-term or long-term) that enhances a person’s understanding of self and helps people become closer to who and how they want to be in the world.
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.
● A client coping with the declining health of her husband felt understandably overwhelmed by managing the many pieces of organizing his healthcare. Additionally, she wanted to be as available as possible to her adult children who were going through their own unique experiences of loss specific to their father and the effect of illness on their relationship. She was able to identify that she needed to invest time into relationships and hobbies that filled her emotionally and spiritually. Some of this discovery meant revisiting activities that she enjoyed to do by herself before she was a wife and a mother; and much of our work included exploring ways of connecting in the world that felt new and nourishing to her at this stage of life.
● A client who is living with depression meets with me for a session and expresses that he has been tearful for days and nights prior. He has talked to all of his family and friend supports, and he is tired of talking. We begin his session with a guided Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction meditation and then explore together what nourishing activities he feels are within his ability to do.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I deeply value building connection and acceptance with the body, and I believe this awareness is integral to our mental health.
To quote Peter Levine, “To experience embodied awareness, take notice of the underlying sensations that actually inform you about how you feel. If you were to be asked how you feel when you are stressed or in pain, a common answer might be, “I feel anxious” or “I feel upset.” It’s important to go further by becoming curious about how you know that you’re feeling anxious or upset. Is there a tightness or burning that is happening right now inside of you that you are labeling “anxiety” or “upset”?”
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I don’t share personal information about myself. Our time together is for you–free of comparisons–to express yourself and focus on your unique desires and needs.
How participatory are you during sessions?
Therapy is most helpful when it is specific to the individual’s needs. My degree of participation is based on what you are needing from therapy.
Sometimes, therapy is a great place to explore a broad range of topics in our lives with the primary goal of gaining a better understanding of ourselves. In that case, my participation is more limited and specific to identifying themes and values with you.
Other times, people come to therapy with symptoms of anxiety and depression or other mood challenges that are disruptive to their lives. Exploring one’s thoughts and feelings remains important, but additional participation on my end is needed for exploring what methods will be helpful attending to the symptoms as well as addressing the underlying cause.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I will recommend activities to practice between sessions if it is something that will help you toward a goal that you have identified, such as relaxation, body awareness, feeling more energetic or positive, etc.
Our thoughts are important, but they alone do not drive our feelings. Working with our bodies and how they receive information can be enormously helpful in shaping how we think and feel.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
While the nature of therapy is focused on intimate expression, it is professional and not reciprocal. The relationship will be different in that you will not have an emotional responsibility to my personal needs in the way you would in a friendship. I am a skilled clinician who is dedicated to collaborating for your needs.
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?
An appropriate time to consider graduating from therapy is when you feel that you have reaped all you can from the therapeutic relationship, or you find that you need a break.
As your therapist, my role is to collaborate in ways that best serve you; accordingly, I want to know if you feel that our therapeutic relationship is no longer supporting your growth. I appreciate that this can be a challenging thought to bring up. I want you to know that I welcome discussion around this, and there may even be times when I will bring it up- such as if dedicating time for therapy is less of a priority.
Both decisions warrant further discussion about how our time can be structured to best support your needs–whether re-focusing on goals and how to approach the work or dedicating time to acknowledge all that you have accomplished and how to continue moving forward after our relationship ends.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I continue to work as a pediatric social worker in a hospital setting with children and their families facing chronic illness.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2011 with a degree in Advanced Clinical Practice. I also underwent training at Ackerman Institute for Families, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at Mindful Harlem, Problem Solving Therapy at Cornell-Weill, and am now pursuing Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Life is difficult, regardless of how many privileges we may have. I was drawn to mental healthcare to help people when life feels limiting, small, or frightening. Sometimes, a challenge in life extends from a day or a week to months or years, and it can be difficult to see anything else around you. Beyond times of great difficulty, there is so much joy and possibility to be discovered. I want to help in times of darkness and in light.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The people. It is a privilege to join another on the journey.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I draw greatly from mind/body connection in my work with clients. Our thoughts, feelings, and physical selves are in constant communication with one another. Have you ever felt surprised by how you’ve reacted in a work meeting or even in conversation with a close friend? Developing awareness to how our bodies influence our thoughts, feelings, and emotions is an important part of understanding more of who and how we want to be in the world.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I listen. I take a step back and try to reflect on possible biases or assumptions that are coming up for me. And I keep listening. I don't believe that one has to go through the exact same thing as another to be helpful to that individual. But I also respect that based on my physical appearance and my lived experience that someone may not desire me as a therapist because being able to relate is really important.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
I would be able to gauge whether or not you are benefiting based on your reported experience and whether you feel understood and able to grow toward desired changes or goals.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I check in frequently during sessions to ensure that I am understanding you as you intend. Many people appear less expressive when they feel stuck, unseen, or unheard. As part of getting to know you, I will ask you what the above looks like for you–how do people who know you the best recognize this in you? Additionally, I think regular check-ins throughout therapy about how you are experiencing the therapeutic relationship are helpful in understanding if any of the above are happening for you.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
It depends on what you want out of therapy. Short-term work is often 8-12 sessions. Some people are looking for a long-term therapeutic relationship, which can span years.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
The only preparation required is giving some thought to what brings you to therapy now.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
Unfortunately, the initial steps to the building are not yet accessible by wheelchair. The management for the building is in the process of securing an accessible ramp.
“I am continually impressed by Lauren’s ability to be direct and purposeful in her work, while remaining kind and approachable. I value her as a colleague for many reasons, including her ability to look at a situation from many different angles and to individualize her care based on each specific client’s needs. Working with Lauren has helped me to develop my clinical skills, and she continues to be a valuable and trusted member of our multidisciplinary team.”