Coaching and Therapy with Sydney
From your perspective, what is coaching?
In sessions, I utilize a gentle, insight-focused combination of mindfulness and motivational interviewing. That means that I listen closely, try to ask good questions and reflect your own wisdom back to you. Sometimes coaching and therapy are just a way of slowing down enough so that we can see new possibilities and feel the feelings we’ve been holding in. We might explore your ambivalence about thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are helping you get through the day…but holding you back from feeling truly free.
When it’s helpful, I also offer you techniques, guided meditations and coping skills that you can practice on your own, like short meditations, urge surfing, mindful movement, intuitive eating, breathing exercises, self parenting and strategies for recognizing ways of thinking and responding to emotions that are keeping you from your goals. For the most part, though, therapy with me is about creating space for all of what’s arising, with compassion, so that we can see it more clearly.
My goal is to be a whole-hearted listener, pay close attention and create a space where you can connect with your own innate wisdom. My style is relaxed, responsive, curious, affirming, enthusiastically imperfect and at times both reverent and irreverent. I appreciate the effort and presence of my clients and the growth that comes to all who participate in sharing and listening with intentions of compassion, healing and cultivating awareness.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
As much as feels right for me and the client. My job is to hold and create the space for you! But I also won’t shy away from answering any questions you ask or sharing when it feels right.
How participatory are you during sessions?
In the beginning, I tend to ask a lot of clarifying questions, because I want to be sure that I’m really understanding. Everyone is different. For some people, having the space to talk is really important. Other people ask for more feedback and directives. When I talk, it’s mostly to guide your attention to a pattern I’ve been noticing, humanize or normalize what you’re going through, point out a strength I’m noticing or ask about your emotions. I’m rarely stone faced, but sometimes, for some people it’s healing to sit together with a little bit of quiet.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I don’t assign anything. I might suggest options or ask you how you feel about practicing something at home, but I believe that therapy should be co-created. I never want you to feel like you have to complete something that doesn’t resonate with you. That being said, I’m happy to provide resources and tools for home practice.
If I have never been to coaching before, what should I expect? How do I know if I should go, and how do I start?
I would say to come to the first five sessions and check it out. My style is very conversational and relaxed. I won’t push you and if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, I’ll refer you to someone else or support you in your decision to take your healing journey a different way.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Therapy is different from friendship in a few ways. First, friends usually want to keep us safe and see us happy. That means when you break up with an ex and still have feelings about them, they might say, “That person is the worst!” In therapy, we might spend time looking at the relationship: what your desires were in it, what hurt you, what you appreciated about it, etc. A therapist or coach can also give you feedback and helpful, research backed ways to think about what’s happening in your heart, mind, and body after a breakup. We can see patterns in your life that help us understand how you got to where you are and where you might want to go from here. We can create more space for the complexity of your feelings. Also, in therapy the time is yours. You can use it anyway you like. You never have to worry about my needs in the session, or about talking my life out with me. The focus is on you and what you’re wanting in the relationship at a given time.
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?
Sure! If the conversation starts becoming about TV shows or normal life stuff, I might ask if therapy still feels useful. Sometimes people like to have a person that they know is there to talk and want to stay in therapy. I’m okay with whatever feels right to you.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I spent 15 years in other forms of social work, mental health and wellness. I worked in a pastoral care, taught meditation and yoga in substance use treatment centers and group homes, developed wellness programs for non-profits, taught retreats at large universities and businesses, and supervised special education and mental health advocates.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
Yes, in Motivational Interviewing, CBT, IFS, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Contemplative therapy and Buddhism, Centering Prayer, Gestalt therapy, health coaching, and my MSW from NYU, Also, many more that are clinically focused.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I knew that it was what I wanted in 8th grade. I had an experience in family therapy that really hurt me, followed by an experience in therapy with a social worker that changed my life in such a positive way. That therapy made me feel heard, connected to my heart and intuition, calm, empowered and brave. I was amazed at how slow, simple and collaborative therapy could be…and also how transformative.
What is the best part of the work for you?
I really love listening to people. I learn so much in the process.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I try to be as human as possible and as open as possible to collaboration.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
However they want to approach it. I’m open in talking about issues related to class, race, ability and body size. Feminist therapy is part of my training, so it’s in me. I work to educate myself about anti-racism, gender, etc. I know I’ll always be imperfect and limited in my experiences, but I’ve also found so much growth through the process of listening. My goal is to center the client’s process.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
You feel more connected to yourself. Decisions get easier. Your relationships feel deeper. Life feels more meaningful. You understand why you’re doing things and new possibilities for changing behaviors arise.
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Hopefully you’ll tell me!
How long should I commit to being in coaching, at least in the beginning?
As long as it takes to build a relationship. No one can say for sure. I say that usually it takes a few weeks to feel more comfortable sharing different aspects of your life and know if therapy feels like a good fit. For some people it can take a few months to feel comfortable being fully honest. Some people jump right in from the beginning and want to work on a specific issue for a specific period of time. Your pace is your pace. I’ll help, but I also have a lot of faith/trust in the process and the timing.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
It never hurts to set an intention to be open or curious before coming to therapy, but all that’s required is that you come on in and get comfortable. We have water, chocolate and tea. Comfy clothes can help too.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?