Therapy with Sabrina
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:
I had a client who was experiencing a lot of difficulty socializing with other people. After getting information about how this may have developed, we started by practicing “small-talk” together. I encouraged this client to laugh as he got more comfortable with the exercise and with speaking with me—his therapist. As this individual’s confidence grew, I assigned activities to do in between sessions (e.g. practice small talk with an acquaintance) in gradual amounts, and then processed how they went and did troubleshooting in session. One of the last exercises we did was to leave the room and go for a walk together outside with the aim of making eye contact with strangers. Once we returned to the room, we processed the experience and made a new plan to continue practicing in between sessions. This was more of a “homework intensive” treatment.
Another client (adult) I worked with had difficulty sticking up for herself, particularly with family members and, at times, with friends as well. Once we started talking, it became clear that she was catering to others’ needs, often at the expense of her own, because she didn’t want to “rock the boat” or cause any more conflict. We talked about where this may have started and how those experiences may continue to be influencing her behavior now. This helped lay the groundwork for future sessions where we planned exercises for her to do, such as asserting herself when making plans with friends or letting the phone go to voicemail if she was about to go to sleep.
When working with a tween (12/13 years old) who wasn’t pleased in the beginning to be coming to therapy, I started using drawing exercises, such as family trees and making a timeline of his life to spark conversations and get to know him. To build rapport I focused on playing games that he would enjoy (drawing, tumbler with ice breaker questions, and celebrity trivia) to start conversations about things that bothered him at school, and eventually, what led up to “getting in trouble” at school or at home. As sessions progressed, we moved on to targeted activities related to learning social skills, controlling impulses, and understanding feelings that get in the way of making better decisions.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I feel strongly that people have an innate ability to heal and grow no matter their background or perceived limitations. What I have seen is that when given the proper support, tools or resources, people are remarkably resilient in their own way. For this reason, I believe there is no “one size fits all” in therapy, so I focus on building peoples’ strengths and individuality as a way to get to where they want to go.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I will share general details about my background, such as where I’m from and what I did prior to becoming a therapist. Beyond those details, however, I will only share things that are both relevant and helpful to our work together. I feel that the majority of time spent should be focused on you because this is the time that you are investing in yourself.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I am very collaborative/active in sessions. Although I will put your goals and concerns first, I feel that therapy works best if it is a team effort in working toward mental wellness and betterment.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
At times I may assign activities, reading, or things to think about in between sessions if I feel that it will be beneficial. I do this on a case by case basis, and oftentimes not every week, because I find that if therapy is going well, people will automatically think and process what is being worked on in between sessions.
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?
When you first start therapy, you should expect that the therapist will try to get as much information about you, your background, and the issue that is bringing you to seek treatment as possible. Once you have shared your background information, you and I will work together to set goals (e.g. experiencing less anxiety, improving your relationship, etc.) and decide on a plan in order to meet your goals.
I feel that most people can benefit from therapy. However, generally speaking, you should go to therapy if you are feeling stuck, down, or not yourself. You should also go if you have had an unsettling life transition, are experiencing loss or grief, or have experienced trauma. It is entirely up to you whether or not to continue treatment. All it takes is a phone call or email to set up an appointment.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Our relationship is different from a friendship in that it is entirely based on you and your goals alone. In other words, the relationship is designed to be one-sided in the interest of providing uninterrupted time and space to work on yourself. The therapist (myself) is typically someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and removed from your life enough to be unbiased. Because of this, a therapist can offer perspectives that people close to you typically cannot.
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?
For the most part, we will work together to figure out what would be a good time to graduate or end treatment. Generally speaking, sessions should come to an end once your goals have been met, if you feel that you have the tools that you need, or if treatment is no longer benefiting you.
Other times that I would consider ending treatment would be if I realize there is an issue that requires specialized training that I do not have. I would then refer you to someone who has that training. I will not end our sessions together without first discussing it with you.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
Becoming a therapist is actually a second career for me. I initially went to school to become a jazz saxophone player back in Canada (where I am from). Once I graduated, I realized that I wanted a different lifestyle and to be involved in health and wellness in some way. This is what led me to become a psychotherapist.
After I finished my masters’ and prior to private practice, I worked in the child welfare system where I provided home-based therapy to families who had challenging histories of abuse or neglect. I learned a lot about how to work with kids, different family dynamics, and underserved communities. Although I enjoyed this work, I eventually made the switch in order to focus on therapy exclusively and outside of the public mental health system. I also completed an internship in career counseling and continue to work with people on career related issues in my practice today.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
While working towards my clinical license, I received training in treatments geared towards trauma in both children and adults. Once I went into private practice, I completed additional training in a more targeted trauma treatment called EMDR. If interested, you can learn more about this kind of treatment by clicking on this link.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I have always been fascinated with psychology, but didn’t have a chance to focus on it until later on. Once I engaged in my own personal therapy in my early 20's and I experienced how transformative it can be, I realized I really wanted to be a psychologist or psychotherapist.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work for me is being a witness to others’ personal growth and betterment. I love to see people who came in previously feeling not so great, ending treatment full of hope and positivity after working together.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I think what is unique about how I approach therapy is that I like to be very fluid with the techniques and my approach to different people. Meaning that I don’t think my technique fits neatly into any particular category, although I draw upon many theories and techniques in my practice. I also did not start my career as a therapist. It took me a long time to make the decision to become a therapist after having been a musician in my early 20’s, so I have a non-traditional background as a therapist and I also enjoy working with creatives.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I try to address differing backgrounds or cultures sensitively and early on so that it is out in the open. Bringing up our backgrounds and having an open conversation about our differences as it pertains to treatment is, I believe, the best way to build trust and ensure the best therapy experience possible.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
From our work together, you should be able to start seeing an improvement with the initial concerns that brought you to therapy. Although improvement doesn't always look the same for everyone, especially in the beginning, you should start to feel better.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Often times I can tell if someone is feeling stuck or unheard when they become very quiet or overly talkative, they seem to shrink or take up less physical room in the chair. People sometimes become excessively ingratiating or they say outright that they feel stuck. Other times, they start cancelling sessions more frequently or avoid coming in.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I would commit to coming for at least 3 months in the beginning in order to really start to see an improvement. At that point you can (and should) try to assess if it is beneficial to you to continue.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
A good way to prepare for a first session is to have in mind what you want to see improvements with. You should also think about what makes you feel comfortable when sharing sensitive information and what you may want from your therapist. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to prepare even if you have an idea of what's bothering you. If this is the case, then don’t worry about preparing anything in particular. I will have a lot of questions in order to help us figure out where to get started.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Most of the time you don’t need to bring anything other than your photo ID with you. If you have something, like an assessment or test from a previous provider or psychiatrist, then I would bring it to session in case it could be useful for treatment.
What forms of payment do you accept?
I accept most forms of payment, including cash, credit or debit cards, HSA cards, Venmo, paypal or checks.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
Although the address is 353 Lexington Ave, the entrance is at 130 East 40th Street. There is an elevator at that location.
“Sabrina was a pleasure to work with on our clinical team, and whenever I needed her to assist with case coverage I always felt confident leaving my clients in her care. She brought a unique perspective to our weekly group supervision, and demonstrated an ability to think outside of the box when faced with difficult and challenging cases. In Sabrina’s work with clients, I observed her to be empathetic, non-judgmental, and dedicated to helping her clients achieve their goals for treatment.”
- Jenna Mansell, LMSW