Therapy with Rachel
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
My aim is to share appropriately. If I sense the self-disclosure or information would be therapeutically beneficial to the client and our relationship, then I may choose to share it. However, the time is precious and the session belongs to the client, so talk about myself is contained and is within the bounds that it serves the work.
How participatory are you during sessions?
Very much so. My participation may look different from session to session, depending on what I feel is needed in the moment. There are times when it is appropriate for me to be actively listening, allowing the client to unpack and get the experience and story moving. However, there is often a back and forth—I will ask questions, point out themes and patterns, or even challenge certain narratives if I am called to.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I do often give homework because I feel it is often necessary for moving the process forward and helping clients make actionable shifts in their lives. The homework isn’t an overwhelming amount. Homework lends itself to deeper exploration and expedites the process. Also, I am a strong believer that connecting clients to other resources and readings can be really impactful. Exposure to the therapeutic work through several portals (not just our sessions), and hearing other voices, (not just mine), can be quite healthy and helpful.
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?
If you are being called to start therapy, even in a small way, then it’s likely wise to give it a try! Therapy is not only for those experiencing extreme distress or in the midst of crisis (although those are certainly good reasons to start as well); there are many uses of therapy: organizing and accomplishing goals, processing transitions, or simply having something in place as part of one’s wellness regimen. We can all gain from meeting regularly with an objective listener as part of our own internal checks and balances.
I commend anyone new to therapy embarking on it for the first time, as it often takes courage in that initial step into the unknown! I tell people who are new to therapy to feel out for a therapist with whom you feel connected, and give the process a few sessions to assess how you feel. It takes a little time to settle in!
It is often a new experience for people to feel really seen, which may be immediately relieving and also unfamiliar or scary, so allow some time to get accustomed and assess how things are going shortly into the process.
I also tell people new to treatment to go at your own pace and do not hesitate to ask questions along the way about the process. The work is for you. The therapist should be challenging you as part of the experience, but it’s important that you feel comfortable, connected, and safe.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
The very nature of the professional relationship and therapeutic work space creates a kind of safety that is very different from what we may find with our loved ones. This allows more ease and flow with how we may unpack and explore our experiences. The therapist has professional training to create a supportive, therapeutic environment, as well as the how-to in looking out for patterns of thought processes, behaviors and relational dynamics that affect our day-to-day . Our loved ones enrich our lives and may provide meaningful feedback, but both people in a personal relationship have emotional stakes in each other. The therapist is better positioned to remain unbiased and objective.
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?
Assessing goals is something I am deliberate about from the outset of therapy as well as throughout the course of our time together. Taking a moment to take inventory of where we’ve been and what is left to do, and if it’s in the best interest of the client to continue that work within our relationship is a healthy discussion. This is a journey that looks different for everyone, so people will be beginning and ending treatment in different time frames and for different reasons. The decision to stay or move on is a collaborative and thoughtful discussion.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
My foundational experience in the field was spent for 4 years within an outpatient substance abuse treatment facility, treating people with addiction as well as their affected loved ones.
I also worked within a private group practice in Bushwick, as well as a holistic women’s practice for 2 years.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
Harm-Reduction therapy (with regards to substance abuse)
I am trained in Motivational Interviewing, Psycho-dyanmic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
I’ve had exposure and training in somatic practices such as the Hakomi Method.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
My family of origin is affected by mental illness and addiction. It awakened my desire to do this work and to fortify my own journey of healing.
What is the best part of the work for you?
I feel privileged to do this work everyday, in all stages of the process. Witnessing others as they share their inner world with me is in itself a gratifying honor. Watching people integrate their experiences and stories is wonderful. Seeing them make positive changes in their lives as well as feel freer, more compassionate and empowered is a beautiful thing.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
Luckily, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside incredible therapists and colleagues, and I believe our collaboration and openness has only elevated me in forging my own authentic style and strengths as a therapist. I’ve pulled many elements from the therapeutic ‘village’ as I’ve been inspired to, so I won’t focus on comparison between myself and other therapists!
What I do enjoy about my style is my commitment to creating safety in the room to be as authentic, transparent and present as possible! I am also dedicated to taking a here-and-now approach, orienting myself to the individual needs of every client and pulling from an eclectic tool box of therapeutic approaches.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I strive to own and explore the ways in which our differences and similarities may be impacting our work. Addressing what is in the room and between the client and myself is encouraged! I have found myself in past sessions conversing openly about culture, socio-economics, gender and sexual identity, among many other elements, that shape how we experience the world.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
I look out for several kinds of gains in tracking our progress: connecting to your emotions, your experiences and your story in a new way. Also, mastering coping tools and experiencing a decrease in the distressing symptoms are important benefits I look out for! Developing more confidence and sense of empowerment within your interactions, becoming more connected to your own internal compass, and using your strengths and inner resources to heal yourself are all benefits of therapy.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Repetitive experiences and story lines that loop around are one clue that clients feel stuck. Also, if I sense an underlying frustration. As with anything, shedding light on what’s stuck and what may be happening relationally with open and compassionate discussion would be utilized if such a situation occurs.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
It varies from client to client, but I generally tell clients to commit for a minimum of 6 months to a year.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
I don’t ask for much preparation, and I go over the intake process so clients have some idea about what to expect in the first few sessions.
I inform the clients that the first few sessions are devoted to us getting to know each other and for me to get a comprehensive foundational understanding of them. We will be formulating some goals in the beginning. The most clients may prepare is to think about what’s bringing them into treatment, and perhaps some goals that they would like to tend to.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
“I was finally feeling and freeing all these emotions I'd bottled up for who knows how long … old beliefs were being challenged and my inner world was shifting. Our work together gave me the tools to find my own center, even in the storm of transition and unexpected obstacles. I am immensely grateful for all of that.” - FB
“Firstly, you were an incredible source of stability and therapeutic support through some of the most complex and emotional periods of my life—alcohol recovery, dating, marriage and more. You taught me long term mindful life skills for coping, recognizing codependency, paying attention to my emotions and navigating adult relationships.” - BZ