Does psychotherapy mean I am going to be asked to talk about my mother?

Not necessarily. Talk therapy or Psychotherapy has it’s roots in Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis, where one spends a good amount of their therapeutic time discussing their past with a focus on integration of unconscious thoughts and feelings into consciousness. Since then, research and development in therapeutic theory has blossomed so much so that some therapists today just focus on the present and/or future. Some focus on the past as well.

The extent that you want to explore your past and how it affects your present day life and future is an important thing to discuss with your therapist. This conversation should include asking your prospective therapist about their theoretical approaches and sharing your desired goals.

What is therapy?

This is a great question and one that I find myself thinking of often. I know that sometimes therapy is used as a last resort…to help heal some part of a person or familial system that may seem broken. However, I am more interested in the kind of therapy that builds upon your strengths and engages you in a healing, growing and building process where a you (individual, couple, family or group) acquires tools to use practically in many areas of your life. The way I engage with my clients and what I can offer changes, based on my clients requests, my expertise and insights with the presenting issues.

What’s involved in training to be a therapist?

Many things, including schooling where there is a focus on learning therapeutic history, theory and varying modalities of working. Schooling is also a place where therapists learn ethics and laws regarding providing therapeutic services in our culture, as regulated by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. The focus of schooling is honing skills and building one’s knowledge base. The root of my work as a therapist/healer, however, comes from my passion to work intimately with people, demonstrating my keen sense of the power in actively listening, reflecting and supporting my client’s unique emotional development.

What is relational therapy?

Relational therapy involves supporting emotional development through the specific lens of acknowledging the client-therapist relationship. As your relationship builds with your therapist, different feelings about your interactions will inevitably come up. Processing these feelings can often be a wonderful way to understand yourself better. This process of adding insight helps create more space for you to understand the roots of emotional reactions to different reactions within you, often creating more compassion and added space for newness in how you choose to move/interact in the world.

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic means, “of the body”. Therapeutically, when we work together, I integrate what you and I notice about your body into our work together. Sometimes people are very aware of their body’s responses to emotional stimuli and sometimes developing a greater awareness is helpful. Our minds and bodies work in tandem. When we experience charged emotional events, we hold those events in both mind memory and somatic or body memory.

During a session, we can incorporate your somatic experiences in a variety of ways, including learning and using grounding tools to help support you as you process something that may be more challenging; developing a higher degree of awareness in your body’s response to emotional content and then connecting with your body in a positive way as opposed to shutting down; and using signals your body may give us about your feelings when your feelings might be harder to access.

How will I know if therapy worked?

We live in a culture where medical treatment often presents itself with “accurate” doses of medication based on large scale studies involving animals and human beings. While psychotherapy is “scientific” like medical treatment, it is also different in terms of measuring what worked and what didn’t. Psychotherapy is about healing and growing your emotional capacities. A good way to measure if it is working is to try it out and consider what is helpful for you about the process. Sharing your feelings about different parts of the therapeutic process with your therapist will assist in developing a custom tailored treatment plan for you.

How important is it that I “like” my therapist?

A large portion of your therapeutic process being successful will deal with your relationship with your therapist (also termed the “therapeutic alliance“). For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to find a therapist that feels like a great, solid fit for who you are as a person at this time in your life.

What should I know about you and how you work as a therapist?

I believe desires are important to listen to and navigate. My desire as your therapist will be to listen to your presenting issues and help us create goals for your therapeutic process. My work incorporates body-mind grounding and insight-building therapy that can happen through talking things through. Ultimately, I do believe that no one of us should be treated by a therapist through a rigid formula. I will take time to see you, in your own unique being and work with you to develop a set of tools and perspective that encourage greater fulfillment and grounding.

If I need low cost therapy, do you offer a sliding scale?

I am able to offer some sliding scale services, when there is a financial need and the time I have available works for you.

Can you recommend any low cost therapy agencies?

The Women’s Therapy Center in downtown Berkeley is a great resource for Women and Couples. Earth Circles Counseling Center in Oakland and Blue Oak Therapy Center in Berkeley are both good resources for individuals, couples and families.

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