Therapy works by showing up, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and getting really honest with yourself and your therapist.
Sometimes it can help to think in advance of certain areas of work that you want to focus on. In other instances, it can be equally beneficial to let yourself free associate by allowing your mind to wander and your words to arrive spontaneously.
Some of the most interesting sessions I've had begin with the client saying "I don't have anything to talk about." It's usually on these occasions, after the client has finished saying all the things they have said before, either out loud or to themselves, that new and surprising thoughts arise.
The therapeutic process can take a circuitous path as you discover those things that you were unaware of at the start. The journey takes the shape of a spiral rather than straight line. There is no standardized procedure in the highly individual work of self inquiry. This can be intimidating for some, but embracing the realm of the unknown opens up the space for possibility and transformation.
I am empathic, creative and direct. My approach is both incisive and gentle. In our work together, I will utilize an eclectic array of interventions including analysis, dream interpretation, guided imagery, mindfulness, somatic experiencing and dialectical behavioral therapy, as they are appropriate to your unique strengths and circumstances.
Consider what is motivating you to seek therapy, whether it is a specific event or events from your past, particular relationships, a new development or phase of life, or simply a desire to know yourself better.
Reflect on what you hope to get out of treatment and if you've been in therapy before, consider sharing with your therapist the things that have worked for you and the things that haven't worked for you previously. Definitely share any psychoactive medications you are on or substance use that you are engaging in.
Bring your memories, your dreams, your present day experience, your hopes and your fears.
Comes as you are. There is no need to be a "good therapy client" or show up as the polished, presentable version of yourself. This is a space where you can make mistakes, say what you really think, express how you feel, and not worry about being judged.
You might feel exhausted after a particularly transformative session or excited and hopeful after making a breakthrough. If you are in the middle of processing trauma or grief, prepare to feel vulnerable and raw. If you spent session confronting a stubborn habit, you'll likely feel frustrated. How you'll feel after session has everything to do with the material that came up, how it was held by your therapist, and how you responded to it as well as where you are in the process of any one area of work.
Therapy is definitely work and the emotional labor should be considered when scheduling your session. I often advise clients to leave at least a half hour following session for quiet time to reflect, integrate, and decompress. It is not advised to go on a date or attend a busy social event immediately after couples therapy. For example.
Part of my job as a therapist is to reflect what I see, help you confront limiting beliefs and challenge unhealthy behaviors. Facing difficult material is often upsetting, especially if there are areas of change that feel scary, out of reach, or things that you have gone to great lengths to avoid.
I make every effort to reflect what I see with directness and loving kindness. That said, I welcome and expect my clients to tell me if something I contribute is inaccurate or upsetting in any way.
The process of psychotherapy is relational, meaning that part of the change and healing that occurs stems from the very relationship created when client and therapist come together to do the work.
The therapeutic relationship is a unique space in which you get to say how you really feel, identify what resonates with you and what doesn't, try new ideas and approaches, make corrections and repair ruptures with someone who is open and receptive to what you have to say and whose job is to meet you with compassion and non-judgment.
It is both completely normal and very common for clients to develop feelings of all sorts for their therapists.
In a positive working relationship dynamic, your therapist will hold you with understanding, compassion and love. You will often be asked to allow your defenses to drop, share parts of yourself that you have never before shared, and show up authentically with all of your perceived flaws and vulnerabilities.
Doing so opens up the possibility of being fully accepted by someone who is interested, listening, and really sees you - so of course it makes sense that you may begin to look upon your therapist with admiration, affection or desire.
While positive transference (projecting your own fantasies of love and desire) is completely understandable, the therapeutic relationship is a special agreement provided for within the confines of professional boundaries in order to protect your safety and confidentiality.
Therapy never includes sex.
One of the benefits of seeing a licensed therapist rather than a coach is that your therapist's license is subject to legal parameters that clearly state dual relationships are strictly forbidden in an effort to protect the client from the power differential that exists in treatment. If you have received unwanted sexual advances or touch from your therapist, please contact the Board of Behavioral Sciences to make a report.
For therapy to work, you need to get really honest with yourself and your therapist. This of course requires you to first show up and then allow yourself to be vulnerable and receptive.
Ability and willingness to self-reflect.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an insight oriented approach that requires a desire to do the inner work of self inquiry and the basic level of psychological orientation necessary for self reflection. Insights may originate from emotional (cathartic) experiences, intuition, memory or intellect.
Noticing change in therapy is kind of like watching your hair grow. It's definitely happening, but it may not be apparent while it's in process.
Occasionally, you may have moments of stepping back from the work and seeing that things in your life have changed. For example, you may notice differences in the quality of your relationships, your responses, your ability to experience or manage your emotions, your level of self awareness or new personal insights and new perspectives.
The length and frequency of treatment depends on your unique personality, motivation and situation.
In my practice, I tend to see individual psychotherapy clients for a couple of years on average. Clients who come in for couples therapy or start treatment to address a particular crisis may only stay for 10-12 sessions while others who identify as life long seekers may decided to stay engaged in the work for many years.
This being human is the work of a lifetime.
It takes courage to take the first step. Text me at 415-857-5660 for a quick reply. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist offering online therapy in California & in person appointments to local San Francisco Bay Area residents. My office is close to the Tiburon Ferry with proximity to Mill Valley & Sausalito.
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