When I first meet clients, I think of how best to connect, how best to help them. I try to provide a safe place for them to tell their story.
In the very first session, I ask about major events in a client’s life. Were they able to navigate through them successfully? If not, where did they get stuck? What motivated them to make an appointment? What should be our goal for treatment? We then make an action plan for the next session. Both of us embark on this road of healing and change together.
Being a therapist is similar to unraveling a tangled ball of yarn. One strand leads back to another. My life experiences all live within my neural pathways. Sometimes they pop up when I least expect them. The same is true with my clients, even the children I see. As a trained therapist, I have tools to monitor my own reactions as well as help clients observe their own.
My goal is to help clients unravel their own lives, to cope with what’s happening in the moment, and understand themselves in a deeper way. They may think therapy will give them a quick fix. But our psyches are too complex for that. There is too much going on in our minds.
If clients are mired in negative, repetitive thoughts they may be depressed or feel enmeshed in constant worrying which can cause anxiety.
Helping clients untangle their experiences and learn coping skills to rebalance feelings, thoughts and sensations is what I do as a psychotherapist. My ultimate goal is to teach them to become their own therapist, to discover and create toolboxes for themselves. This means learning to be mindful of their reactions to themselves and others, embracing change, asking the tough questions of themselves, and taming the voice of their inner critic.
Part of my work is finding the right plan for each client. This always includes mindfulness. I may try using a cognitive behavioral approach, replacing negatives with positives, “dialoguing” with their inner child, guided meditations, and other modalities, which rekindle hope and change.
We are all unique. We all have core beliefs and values, but some of them may have become too fixed in place. Sometimes we resist examining the evidence that may not support them. Therapy can help in this reassessment.