Therapy with Sarah
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a chance to learn and practice new skills when our ways of coping with anxiety, depression, stress or grief aren’t working how we want them to. Therapy is also a chance to build trust with someone and learn that we’re okay and accepted just as we are—including the parts that feel messy, scary, awkward and shameful.
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.
Some folks come to therapy to work on a specific issue; like they’re uncomfortable with their substance use, or because they want to come out in their professional lives and want additional support. This can be short term therapy, and often other aspects of someone’s life and feelings end up coming in the room too.
Some folks want therapy for a longer term experience and way of feeling, such as being depressed, anxious, afraid or ashamed. We can dig into what that’s coming from, and our work may include talking about past experiences and long term changes in world-view and beliefs. This can become work about emotional and spiritual integration and healing.
I also work with folks because they want a space for their feelings as a part of their overall health and wellness. Therapy can be a useful and important part of self-care, especially if we experience oppression or have been taught that our feelings aren’t welcome.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
My foundational belief is that we all deserve dignity, safety and community/connection. I believe that you know yourself best—and that therapy should be directed by your goals. My own philosophies and values are a part of my experience, and in therapy what is true for you is what’s most important—including where our values or philosophies are different.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I often share what I am noticing or experiencing in the room. I do not believe that a therapist can be a blank slate; we’re in the room with you and therapy is a relationship. But, I don’t share much about myself because, often, part of the therapy is learning that others can take care of their emotional reactions, and that we can be honest and messy without being rejected or shut out—even in relationship with our therapist.
How participatory are you during sessions?
I ask questions and offer reflections on themes and impressions—but I want the person seeking therapy to lead the conversation.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I may suggest readings, practices or resources for someone to follow up on if they want. However, I generally do not give homework and assignments—I like people to notice their own initiative and feel this is ultimately more empowering.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
The therapeutic relationship is different than other relationships, because the point of our relationship is your healing and support. Also, we try to take away the pressure many people feel to please, entertain or support others instead of themselves—therapy is all about you getting to show up fully and honestly.
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?
When folks want a specific experience or issue to get easier, or more manageable—and then it does—that can be a time they decide to graduate from therapy. Sometimes we will discover together that you want or need a therapist with specific skills (like, exposure therapy, or formal psychoanalysis) that I don’t provide. If that happens we work together to find a new therapist who offers what you need.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I worked in community based organizations and nonprofits that focused on displaced communities, the LGBTQIA community, HIV prevention and treatment programming, reproductive health education and self defense education.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have somatics for trauma training through the Generative Somatics and Strozzi Institutes, focused on embodied practice when working with trauma.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I got into the work of doing therapy because I’ve seen so many people struggle to find a therapist that understands them, or is culturally competent.
More than anything I got into the work because I like it and I believe in it—we can grow and heal and change, and therapy can make that easier.
What is the best part of the work for you?
I am overjoyed when folks tell me they’ve done something that wasn’t just hard, but was unimaginable for them before. It is an honor to see people show up for themselves, for their growth, healing and liberty.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
My approach is very egalitarian. I believe that you know yourself best, and your desire for change is the most important guide of our work. I also have a pretty wide experience with holistic health and spirituality. People appreciate being believed, supported and trusted about their world view when they share it in therapy.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
Diversity is always in the room. I approach it by naming it. As a social worker and community organizer I believe in working across difference towards change. I am committed to believing your experience, and to the ongoing process of my own outside learning.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
People tell me when the work is beneficial by sharing that something we talked about previously stayed with them and helped, or by sharing new and vulnerable parts of themselves.
We also check in about what’s working, or not, and how your goals for therapy are evolving.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I can tell you if I have the impression that you’re feeling something—including stuck, unseen or unheard. And, I will ask if my impression is correct, and ask you to share about what feels off in the situation, to help me understand you and what you really are feeling and experiencing.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I suggest planning on six months to try therapy at the beginning. It takes some time to get to know each other and build trust at the beginning.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Try not to worry too much about the first session. It’s a conversation, and we don’t have to cover everything at once. We’re getting to know each other and begin talking about what you are looking for and if I am a good fit for you.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
You just need to bring yourself. I will send you an intake and consent form in advance of the first session.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
There are key codes for the suite and bathroom doors—I’ll share them with you via email in advance of your first session.