Therapy with Shimmy
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is healing and growth. We all come to therapy for a reason - whether to get unstuck from a particular pattern, to learn to deal with a difficult situation, or to move past some pain that we can’t seem to let go of. Therapy helps us make the changes that we want to through a journey of mindfulness and self-discovery.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
Human beings are complex, but if we look hard enough we can find the reasons why we do things. Sometimes those reasons have to do with the way we think, how our body reacts, or how we respond in relationships. My job is to help you find those reasons, and, when you are ready, help you to change. For the jargon lovers: I use a combination of psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and somatic experiencing to help you access your own ability to heal.
In proper English, that means I will ask about your past and discuss how it impacts your life today, we’ll talk about the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and what you can do to change them, you’ll learn stress reduction and focusing techniques, and we’ll talk about how stress and negative feelings are stored in the body, and how to release that tension.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Anything that happens in the therapy room is in service of the work that we are doing, and ultimately designed to help you meet your goals. I am very alive in the room, and my personality shows it! But I tend not to share too many details about me, because I find that distracts from you! In general, I may share minimally from my own life if I think it may be relevant and helpful for you to know.
How participatory are you during sessions?
As I’m sure you could have guessed, it depends! I will always be actively engaged in listening to and responding to what you say. Beyond that, it really depends what you need. For example, a client who is grieving generally needs heartfelt listening and only measured responses, while a client who has just returned from rehab for addiction will need more direction.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
There are 168 hours in the week, and you only spend about one in my office. So I do find that homework can help you make more progress more quickly. But–you knew there was a but coming–I don’t believe in homework for homework’s sake. If homework makes you anxious, or you suffer from procrastination, then more assignments won’t be helpful. Either way, we’ll work at your pace and you will decide if you want to do work between sessions.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
The therapist-client relationship is unique–there really is nothing else like it! In our sessions, everything is about you. That means you can share about yourself as much as you need to, without feeling guilty that you’re not giving me attention. In friendship that reciprocity is expected and necessary, but in therapy we create a space where you can let go of expectations and dive into yourself.
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?
I tell all of my clients that the goal of therapy is to not be in therapy*! When we start our work, we will talk about your goals, and we’ll continually check in about those throughout the therapy process. Goals can change over time, of course, but there usually comes a time when we can both agree that you have done amazing work, and it’s time to happily move on.
*Except for the rare cases of chronic and persistent mental illness, like schizophrenia, in which case ongoing support can make the difference between barely surviving and thriving.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
After graduation, I worked at Pride of Judea (a Jewish Board mental health clinic) for about three years. This was a really great experience–I really got to see anything and everything. For Chai Lifeline, I used grief and loss techniques with children and families contending with chronic pediatric illness. At The Safe Foundation, I honed my addiction skills with individuals, groups, and families struggling with addiction.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have a credential in Alcoholism and Substance Use treatment, with a speciality in Gambling Addiction (CASAC-G). I have been a mindfulness practitioner since 2012, completed an eight week mindfulness course, and have attended multiple meditation retreats. This experience greatly informs my practice in working with stress, addiction, and trauma.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Helping others gives me a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
What is the best part of the work for you?
I love the moment when clients notice that their courage and hard work has paid off in noticeable change. It's a private victory and a beautiful moment that I am honored to be a part of.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
While I appreciate the work of my colleagues, I pride myself in bringing my full self to the therapy room. I am very attuned to the emotional state and the pace of my clients, and feedback from my clients shows me that they appreciate this.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I talk about it! I want to know what it’s like to be here with me, with someone who looks like me. I will want to hear who you are, about your background, about what makes you...you!
By the way, I do this with people who look like me as well. I say, "Something interesting may happen when a therapist and client seem to share the same background. Some might end up making assumptions about who you are. I don't want to assume anything about you. Please tell me about your background and who you are, even if it seems that I would already know that."
By asking these questions and staying curious, I get to know who you are–on the inside and out.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
I will have this discussion with you in one of the first sessions–how would we know if this is helping? We’ll try to get as concrete as possible, outlining specific symptoms as they are now and keeping track of them on a regular basis. I’ll encourage you to note the frequency and intensity of your symptoms, so that later on, even if the symptoms are still there, we can notice if they are less frequent and less intense.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
I will check in with you regularly–how are we doing, how are you feeling about this work? I will also check in about anything that raises a flag in the “front desk” part of therapy–lateness, a shift in energy, payment issues–these are all opportunities to check in about this experience. I will also explicitly encourage you to talk about how it feels in the therapy room, and how it feels to be with me.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
Three months is a good amount of time for us to develop a working relationship, to see if we are a good fit, and to start to see progress. I’ll also have a better sense of the length of treatment that will be most beneficial for you–whether short term, moderate, or long term.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
There’s an old slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous: Bring the body, and the mind will follow. If you like, think about what is leading you to seek therapy now, at this point in your life. I will guide you through the rest of the beginning process.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Bring your phone, in case you have trouble finding my office or are running late. And bring whatever form of payment works for you!
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
Brooklyn Office: Parking is available, but plan to arrive a few minutes early to find a spot. Alternate Side is Tuesdays from 11:30am-1pm. Don’t get a ticket, therapy is expensive enough!
Washington Heights Office: I don’t recommend driving, parking is very difficult. I’m right around the corner from the 181st Street A train subway stop, and not far from the 1 train and the George Washington Bridge bus station.