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Hello & Welcome New Clients

This may help you to better understand what to expect.

We take the coronavirus (COVID-19) very seriously. Sessions are in-office and online with our HIPAA compliant video conferencing. You get to choose. 

 I understand all too well that attending your first therapy session and meeting a new person often causes varying levels of anxiety. This is normal. This first session is for you and me to ask one another questions. Remember, you are the boss. It may take a few sessions to know if we are a good fit. That is also normal. I will need you to help me learn what makes you feel safe and comfortable in our session. For some of my clients, this has meant less or more lighting in the office. For others it means they need more pillows or soft blankets (yes, of course, I wash them :) 

 

Most of the questions I will ask you are on the intake paperwork online. If the paperwork is too triggering we can fill it out together, no worries. In the first session, I will just be getting the outline of what brings you in at this time in your life. If you have trauma or distressing events you don't want to share in our first few sessions, that is okay.

 

You get to choose. You are in control.

 

This is your journey, you get to set the pace.

 

I don't expect to know your life story in our first session or two. I will gather pieces you choose to share with me all along our journey together. 

Regular sessions are 45 mins. In your intake, I will give you my recommendation of how frequently I think we should meet. That is usually weekly or bi-monthly. We will reevaluate your needs and update your therapy goals along the way.

After your first session, we will collaborate to make positive changes in thinking, self-care, emotional regulation, communication, your support network, etc. I will teach you about your WOT (window of tolerance) and how to get back into your WOT. 

The end of therapy is a very important time. This may happen after just a session or two if you discover I am not a good fit for your needs. Or this may happen after 12 sessions or more. This transition should be processed in session, rather than just canceling an appointment and never going back. This is because the termination or endings of relationships are a critical part of wrapping up the work and getting closure. Very often, I have former clients return to therapy periodically for “tune-ups”, which is a normal, proactive, and positive thing to do.

 

“I’m afraid my counselor will judge me or think I’m crazy.”

 

I have two basic rules in my office. Rule #1: You are the boss. Rule #2: You will learn to replace judgment with compassion and curiosity. I am very human and understand addiction, anxiety, relationship & parenting problems are all part of the human condition. I have also done my own work and learned curiosity and self-compassion. Because of this I can teach it by example and creating a judgment-free, safe space for you to learn and heal in.  Remember that for all of us, our fears of what others think of us is often a projection of our own inner critic onto them. In other words, it is really your own negative beliefs about yourself that you are imagining the therapist might think about you.

 

“I am afraid of revisiting painful memories or disclosing embarrassing issues.”

 

Of course! I don't expect you to share all your inner secrets in our first session. The beginning phase of therapy is about us building a trusting therapeutic rapport and relationship. You can share things at a rate that feels comfortable for you. Numerous times, I have had clients indicate that they experienced a bigger trauma in the past (like childhood sexual abuse or rape,) that they are not ready to address. This is a healthy way of being open and honest with your therapist, and also setting boundaries and pacing the therapy at a rate that feels comfortable for you. As we build a stronger therapeutic rapport and when you are ready, we can collaboratively work together to address those experiences. 

 

 “I worry that my counselor is going to expect me to make changes that I am not ready to make.”

 

Many clients have expressed fears that I will expect them to immediately abstain from any self-sabotaging coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, self-harm, or eating disorder behaviors. They worry that I will want them to end a dysfunctional or abusive relationship that perhaps they are not ready to leave. Remember you are the boss and we go at your pace. I will meet you “where you are.” This basically means respecting where you are in the process of change. I know people only change when they are ready and when they want to change. No one could have made me get clean and sober before I was ready. Often, I remind clients that it is very likely their negative relationship patterns or self-sabotaging behaviors will continue during the first phase of treatment, or behaviors may recur at various points in the therapeutic process. This is normal and expected. I encourage you to be open and honest with me because I will not judge you. 

Being honest will help me better help you.

 

“I don’t know if I will like my counselor.”

 

Feel free to email me questions or concerns before we meet. It takes time to find the right person with the right skills for you and your needs. Remember not everyone is going to be a match, “therapist shopping” is often a normal part of the process and something I sure hope you are doing. Finding the right healer in life is often a huge accomplishment. Take time to see who makes you feel the safest and comfortable, as well as who seems to best understand and be equipped to help you move forward.

The therapeutic relationship is the foundation of treatment. It takes time to establish a therapeutic rapport and a trusting collaborative working relationship. Empower yourself by asking me questions and voice any concerns you have about treatment. Express any feelings of anxiety open and direct. I always encourage clients to be direct with me about any negative feelings that they are having about me, anything I have said, or the therapeutic process. Openly discussing these matters will allow you to do honest and effective work. Often, having a positive therapeutic relationship will help you have more positive relationships outside of the therapy room because you are learning how to communicate in a way that is open, honest, and respectful of yourself and others.

 

“I feel worse after my therapy session.”

 

Understand it is normal for things to get a little worse before they get better during the initial phase of therapy. Some resistance and defensiveness on your part is normal, those feelings are there to protect you. In fact, I will help you appreciate those parts of yourself. When you have big emotions triggered (especially those you have worked so hard to avoid)  you may be sensitive to those emotions for the next 24-48 hours. This is a normal part of healing. 

Remember to congratulate yourself on beginning in therapy and doing your psychological, relational, career, emotional, or even spiritual work. You are working on healing the mind, body, and soul. You are learning and evolving, which will deeply and profoundly improve your life and positively influence those around you.

 

I invite you to reframe your nervousness as excitement because you are taking forward steps on the path to healing, wellness, and achieving your best self personally and professionally.

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