Therapy with Rebecca
From your perspective, what is therapy?
I believe that therapy is a place to gain fresh and new perspectives on old patterns and greater insight into our thoughts, actions and behaviors. I often work with my clients on gaining more present moment awareness as a means of connecting to themselves and those around them. Therapy is a place to reflect and receive honest and thoughtful feedback in a non-judgmental environment.
2. 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.
Example 1: One of my clients who struggles with anxiety noticed that every time she starts to feel anxious or overwhelmed, she tends to distract herself. This distraction took different forms such as getting lost in social media for hours on end, zoning out in front of the tv, and overeating for comfort. She started to feel that her time was less productive, spent less meaningfully and out of her conscious control. Through our work together, I helped this client become more aware of when and why she turned to these distractions (i.e “I’m turning to TV to zone out, but what I’m really doing is trying to avoid feeling sad and anxious”). Through the use of tools such as deep breathing and mindfulness, I helped her work on easing physical symptoms of anxiety so that she no longer felt that she had to “escape” the physical sensations through avoidance and distraction. She began to feel more comfortable physically and was ready to look at and explore the thoughts that were contributing to anxiety and worry. With increased self awareness, this client was able to explore and talk about her fears and worries with greater insight and control. She ultimately felt more in control of herself, her choices and her time.
Example 2: One of my clients came in feeling “stuck” and having difficulty advancing professionally. He found that he would constantly compare himself to others and always end up feeling lesser than everyone around him. He walked around with “imposter syndrome,” feeling fearful of being found out as someone who was not as capable as people believed. Our work together involved helping him become more aware of when he was engaging in negative self talk and helping him change the narrative to a kinder and more reasonable way of talking and relating to himself. In exploring his past, we uncovered that a learning disability diagnosed in childhood led him to feeling less smart and capable than his siblings and peers. This continued as he went through grade school and college. While he is a very smart and capable person, he was never able to believe that to be true because of his past. With time and practice, he was able to have more insight into the role his past continued to play in his present. With hard work in therapy, he made a conscious decision to start believing in himself and slowly started to take more professional and personal risks with great results.
3. Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I am a strong believer in the mind body connection. I take great interest in the way physical health, diet and lifestyle inform our mental health and sense of well being. I value integrative and holistic healthcare and have a network of providers that I collaborate with and can refer to.
4. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Sharing information about myself is not part of my regular practice. I find that sharing personal information as a therapist can be disruptive to a client’s ability to process their own feelings and experience. That being said, I have shared things about my self or experience on occasion, always being mindful of its relevance. I encourage people to be open and ask questions if they’d like. I’ll also be open about what I feel comfortable answering or not and the reasons why.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
While listening and learning more about my clients is a big part of the way I conduct therapy, I consider myself an interactive therapist. Sessions are usually structured in conversational style.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
This depends. I don’t assign formal homework, activities or readings on a regular basis, but do however when I feel that it might be relevant and helpful for enhancing the effect of therapy. For example, I might ask you to listen to a podcast or recommend a book that is relevant to the work we’re doing. I will also encourage you to practice the things you’re learning in therapy in your life outside of therapy.
7. 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?
There are many different and valid reasons to start therapy. If you’re thinking about going to therapy, you’re likely experiencing some kind of discomfort, upset or worry. You may also be experiencing curiosity about how therapy might bring about a positive change. In my opinion, a sense of curiosity and openness about yourself is a great start and a very positive and courageous thing. Emotional hygiene is just as important as taking care of your physical self!
8. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Relationships with friends and loved ones are valuable and can be healing on so many levels. The therapeutic relationship is different in that the therapist is a professional who has been trained to understand and think about people, situations and behaviors in more objective and nuanced ways. In addition, many people start to feel that sharing with family or friends becomes burdensome to those people. While this is not necessarily true, people often feel more comfortable talking to a therapist where the objective is to solely focus on your needs and well being.
9. 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, this is based on your individual goals. It is helpful to make this decision together, but ultimately, you are in control of the decision to leave or graduate when you see fit.
10. Where did you work before going into private practice?
I worked for many years in the NYC hospital system in a variety of settings including outpatient clinics, psychiatric emergency rooms and NYC public schools.
11. Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have a Doctorate degree in clinical psychology. I attend regular trainings and lectures.
I am always reading and learning more about how I can enhance my skills in a variety of areas.
12. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have 15 years of experience working with people who experience anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties and clients with a history of trauma. Many of my clients come to me feeling “stuck” and are looking for a way to feel more confident, satisfied and engaged with themselves and the people around them.
13. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Becoming a therapist was born out of a lifelong curiosity about myself, my own life experience and the lives of people around me. While I had an innate sense of connecting and understanding people from an early age, getting a doctorate in psychology helped hone these skills, leading to a more sophisticated and nuanced approach.
14. What is the best part of the work for you?
Connecting with and helping others in a deep and meaningful way. Witnessing my clients grow and evolve over time is extremely rewarding.
15. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
While I work similarly to other therapists, I like to think that my thoughtful and curious nature as well as my sense of humor are what I bring to my work. I’ve been told that I’m a very good listener!
16. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
Paying attention to and being mindful of diversity is an important part of how I practice. I spent many years working in the inner city with a diverse population in terms of culturally, racially and sexual orientation, to name a few. I am always curious about people’s experience and try my best to make everyone feel heard and understood.
17. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
This depends on what you are coming in for and your goals for therapy. There are certain things that you may start to notice such as improved mood, a decrease in anxiety, improved relationships and increased ability to cope and manage hardships.
18. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
If I get a sense or a hunch that any of these things are happening, I will bring it up in session for us to talk about. I also encourage you to express these things if you notice them. I value open communication in session which means I welcome all types of feedback about your experience in the room.
19. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
Change takes time! While the length of treatment does vary depending on your goals, giving therapy an initial three month commitment is a good start. I have had some clients who have worked with me for several months and others for years. It’s not a one size fits all model.
20. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
You might want to think about what your goals are for therapy before coming to the first session. Sometimes people use the first session to clarify what those goals are and I can help you do that.
21. Do I need to bring anything with me?
Just bring yourself! I ask all of my clients to come to therapy with an open mind and a willingness to be open to the process.
22. Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
I ask that you give yourself enough time to get to my office. NYC transportation can be rough! Sessions start and end on time, so getting to your appointment on time guarantees that you can benefit from the full time allotted to you.