Therapy with Ruschelle
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a collaborative creative process where we work together to find solutions to problems and find ways to live our best life.
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.
Megan - Executive In The Fashion Industry
Megan is an executive in the fashion industry. Megan states she struggles with work/life balance, job satisfaction and is having difficulty making her next career move.
After a thorough intake it comes up that Megan’s mother has had a drinking problem on and off throughout her life which has impacted Megan’s ability to trust her decisions and take care of herself.
Megan and I put together a plan to use Cognitive Therapy to address Megan’s self esteem and her ability to advocate for herself at work. Megan and I also decide to use hypnosis as a way to relieve anxiety and help her feel more in control of her experiences.
Dillan - New Father & Entrepreneur
Dillan has been a business owner for 15 years. He has a 2 year old daughter and rarely has time for his family. Dillan also struggles with making enough time to care for his aging parents. Dillan stated he is having anxiety and depression and feels overwhelmed.
Dillan and I put together a plan to use Internal Family Systems Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy to help Dillan make the best decisions. Dillan and I use some sessions for mindfulness and breathing. We use other sessions for strategy and decision-making. I also give Dillan several resources to help him deepen his relationship with his daughter. I also reflect back to Dillan times when he is being a great father, husband and son.
Carey - Lyme Disease
Carey was a marathon runner and VP in a bank. Five years ago Carey had a mystery illness which left her with severe memory problems and an inability to do much physical activity. Carey has recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease and feels angry, frustrated and isolated. Carey feels she has lost her identity and struggles with finding her place.
Carey and I meet for supportive counseling around her new diagnosis. I review her medical plan and offer recommendations and ways to advocate with her Lyme doctor. Carey uses her sessions as a safe space to express the experience of having Lyme disease. After about 6 months of working together Carey and I also begin processing the trauma associated with losing her career. Our sessions are supportive and focus on expression. Carey often agrees upon self care activities to do outside of the therapy hour. I call Carey’s doctor 1x monthly for updates and to collaborate care.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I believe that clients have an innate ability to heal. I see the therapy hour as a time of collaboration and exploration.
4. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I believe that my presence in the therapy hour is valuable. For clients who have Lyme disease I am very open about my experience with Lyme, however, the focus of those sessions is always their healing.
With other clients I am more reserved about sharing personal experiences.
I do bring things I have read or popular media that might be relatable to the client into sessions. I also offer clients resources which I find helpful to view outside the therapy hour.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
I am very participatory. I will always lean toward asking the client if they want my feedback or input. I am also happy to work with clients that want me to primarily listen without feedback.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I do if clients are willing to participate. This is not mandatory, however, I find that clients get more out of the sessions when they think about our conversations throughout the week.
7. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Often our friends and family have opinions about us. Therapy is a non judgmental space.
Therapy is not a place for advice, rather a place for you to be more confident in your decision-making.
8. 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?
We will set goals together. When your goals have been met we re-establish a need to be in therapy. Every 6 months we will review the value of our work together. That said, some people benefit from short term therapy and others continue to find benefit for years.
9. Where did you work before going into private practice?
During my undergraduate training I ran a FEMA program for families impacted by flooding in rural West Virginia. After graduate school from Columbia University, I worked at the Animal Medical Center as a crisis management and grief therapist. At that time I was also a private therapist to a hedge fund executive and his family. I also taught yoga and was a CrossFit Certified trainer for 10 years.
After leaving AMC I was clinical director of a number of mental health clinics and substance abuse clinics throughout Manhattan, including criminal justice organizations. In these positions I had the opportunity to develop programming, teach, and supervise staff and also to oversee clinical care for chronically mentally and physically ill communities.
10. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have been a therapist over 20 years. I have a large amount of experience with persistent mental illness including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, BPD as well as chronic illness - including diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions. I had Lyme disease and am a Lyme advocate.
11. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
After graduate school I fell in love with the process of talk therapy. I love watching people find “AHA” moments and find more freedom in their experiences.
12. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I have found that I am probably more direct than most of my colleagues. I tend toward speaking what is on my mind and giving feedback from gut reactions. I am endlessly curious.
13. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
My clients come from diverse backgrounds. Race does come up in therapy sessions. I lean toward listening and deep understanding, remembering that all experiences are vastly different from mine, regardless of ethnicity. I am also aware that I have limitations in my understanding of those experiences and seek my own supervision when needed.
14. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
We have set goals together. If you feel we are meeting those goals in our sessions, we keep going, if not, we try to find new direction together. We also use standardized measurement tools when possible. For example, if someone has anxiety or depression, we have them take a depression scale upon first meeting. Then we set a goal for when you can expect a reduction in symptoms. This is something we can refer back to in order to know we are on track.
15. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I ask “what is that like for you?” a lot in my sessions. We try to go very slowly together to best understand those feelings.
16. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I generally say 6 - 9 months. If you are coming for hypnotherapy, this timeline can be much shorter. Some people only want 6-8 sessions of hypnosis and find this valuable.
17. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Just bring yourself. The first session will begin with a series of questions about you that can last about 40 minutes. The last 20-30 minutes will be a chance for us to try out some therapeutic styles and see how best we might work together. You might even leave with homework.
18. Do I need to bring anything with me?
Not necessarily. A journal could be super helpful. If there are any medical documents you would like me to see, please bring those.
“Ruschelle is an outstanding therapist. We refer all of our psychotherapy clients to her and they are consistently pleased.” — Carey Davidson, Founder Tournesol Wellness