What's the first session like?
The first session is called the intake or assessment. During this session, I will introduce myself, identify my credentials and training, discuss confidentiality and safety concerns, and begin the process of getting to know you. There is no rush to "get to the problem." The session's aim is to be relaxed and collaborative while allowing a safe discussion of what brought you in today.
This is for my child. Can I be in the session with them?
All sessions with children initially start with a parent or caregiver in the room. This is for the benefit of both the child and the parent. Once a rapport and understanding of the therapeutic process is established, the sessions can be flexible such as child-only, split sessions with child then parent, or parent-only, depending on need.
How do couple's sessions work?
Sometimes both persons see the need to come in. Sometimes only one does. Either way, the first step is to establish rapport and ground rules for how to move forward in session. Many times hurt, anger, fear and guilt are forcing defenses to be up during the initial sessions. With a non-judgemental approach, the problems and opportunities for the couple can be explored and new coping skills can be added that encourage safe communication, rebuild trust, and allow an honest discussion of the issues as they are.
How long will I be in therapy?
There is no one answer to this question, but because my approach is "brief therapy," ie short-term, solution-focused psychotherapy, most clients begin to see symptom relief sooner than some other types of therapy. I find that, overall, people in therapy stay as long as needed or wanted. As the reasons for being in therapy are addressed, clients step down from weekly sessions to bi-monthly sessions to monthly "check-ins." Even clients who have finished their therapy can come in on an as-needed basis for as long as they wish.
What should I expect?
Ironically, coming to therapy can cause some nervousness initially. How will I know what to say? Will I like the counselor? What if I'm not sure I want to talk about the things I need to? First and foremost, you will never be required to talk about anything you don't want to. Therapy is always at your pace. But know this, there are always two therapists in the room, you and me. You're the expert on you and I'm the expert on therapy. Over our sessions together we will trade information so that we each become expert. When you have gained the necessary techniques, insight and confidence, the things that are blocking you in your life will no longer have power over you. Through therapy we don't "get over" anything, we move through it.
This is a family issue. How can therapy help?
Whether the entire family comes in or just you, families respond to an unwritten set of rules that guide all interactions (called Family Systems Theory). If you change something about how you interact, the system can either adapt to accept it or, more often, reject it with extreme prejudice. Family therapy explores these unwritten rules and creates opportunities to rewrite them to promote better function.