Q: What can I expect from my first therapy session?
A: Different therapists approach the first therapy session in different ways. During a typical first session with me, we will complete or review an intake assessment. Occasionally the word ‘assessment’ worries people… don’t worry, it’s not a test! The goal of the intake assessment is to get to know you thoroughly, so that I can recommend the best services for you.
During the assessment, I will ask about your family, education, employment, physical health, and mental health. You can always choose not to answer a question if you’d prefer not to. In addition to the intake assessment, I may ask you to sign a few forms, that I will explain more in person.
Q: How is a social worker different from a counselor or therapist?
A: Well, the short answer is, they aren’t that different! Both social workers and counselors can be therapists. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker can do everything that a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor can do, and vice versa. A therapist is anybody who practices therapy as a licensed clinician, or under the supervision of a licensed clinician. Most counselors enter their field hoping to practice therapy, whereas many social workers take other career paths.
Q: Can my mother / father / girlfriend / boyfriend / third cousin come to my first appointment with me?
A: Absolutely! It is important to me that you feel comfortable at your first appointment. Please know that I will ask your companion to leave the session at some point, so that I can meet with you one on one. This is important in order to get accurate information for the intake assessment. Each appointment after the first appointment will also be on an individual basis. If you are interested in family or couples therapy, let me know and we will discuss further.
Q: Can you prescribe psychiatric medications?
A: No, I cannot. Only a doctor or nurse practitioner can do so. If you do not have a psychiatrist and would like one, I will be happy to make a referral. If you do not want to take psychiatric medications, that’s okay too. I will talk with you further about your options, but ultimately, whether or not to take psychiatric medications is your choice.
Q: What kind of therapy do you do?
A: My practice is rooted in the humanistic perspective, meaning that I believe everyone has good qualities, is motivated to make positive changes, and is always doing the best that they can.
I tailor courses of treatment to each individual person’s needs. However, I most often use therapeutic interventions from cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and mindfulness practices.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of therapy in which you examine how your thoughts are affecting your emotions and behaviors. Changing your thought patterns changes how you feel and act. CBT is evidence-based, meaning a lot of research has shown that it is helpful. That research has also shown that it works for a wide variety of people of different ages, with different diagnoses and goals.
Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, was created by Marsha Linehan, an expert clinician who herself has borderline personality disorder. This type of psychotherapy is helpful for people with borderline personality disorder, as well as bipolar disorder, self-harming behaviors, addictions, and suicidal thoughts.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness in the present moment. Mindfulness techniques are helpful for everyone, but particularly people who want to decrease anxiety and stress, increase impulse-control, or get in touch with their intuition. Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness, but there are many other ways to do so. More great information about mindfulness can be found at this website.