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I’ve never been in therapy before. What can I expect?

Before anything else, I want to acknowledge your courage in making it to this place of considering therapy. It is not uncommon for people to have waited months, or even years, wondering about therapy before actually beginning, especially since there can sometimes be a stigma in our culture around “needing help.” But needing help from others is such a human reality, and making the choice to learn more is a first huge step toward your longings for a different kind of life. You matter! But, you maybe wondering if counseling will even help after all the time and energy and money spent. I really respect your concern and have been there before myself. There are many different kinds of counseling suited for different people’s preferences and needs. In the kind of therapy that I offer, you can expect an approach designed specifically for you. You can also expect that we will work collaboratively together to identify what is troubling you and check in at intervals about how these dynamics are shifting and what is or is not working best for you. This way, we can adjust what we are doing to best fit who you are and what you need.

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How is therapy different than just talking to a friend or relative?

Although our sessions may in some ways feel like a casual conversation you might have with a friend, as a professional I am trained to engage you in ways that can help you to make connections between life experiences, uncover meaning, and open new possibilities through implicit means so that you can most effectively shift how you engage your current experiences. My Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training also helps you to work somatically with your body and nervous system when you feel out of sorts and helps you to process trauma stuck in your body. Another thing about your therapy with me is that you can rest in knowing it’s confidential. If you tend to feel added stress related to what others in your life think or know about your situation, you can simply focus on living well into who you are. And the last difference I’ll mention is that in therapy the focus is on you. If you tend to be concerned for others’ needs to the detriment of giving enough time for your own needs, this is your space to find the you that has somehow been lost along the way!

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How long does therapy take?

Because each person has a unique combination of situations and goals for counseling, the length of therapy will differ depending on your particular dynamic. If you are a client, for instance, who arrives in session with trauma that is easily stirred in your day-to-day life or when you try to talk about your concerns in session, we would likely work first with helping you to regulate what is happening in your body before and as we approach our other work. This can cause therapy to last longer, but yields invaluable results for how you experience life. Maybe you are a person who is at a loss for why you can’t move beyond your current state of disconnection in your relationships. This could involve a deeper dive into your particular contexts, stories, and adaptive responses over time. Whatever the case, it’s important to me not to try to place a behavioral band-aid over any dynamic that has been learned for a reason. I always prefer to choose effectiveness over an attempted quick-fix. The bottom line, however, is that you get to choose how long you are in therapy and talk with me about how our pacing is working for you.

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How do I know whether online or in-person therapy is best for me?

Both online and in-person counseling have their advantages. Sometimes online counseling can be a better fit if a person is experiencing mental or physical challenges getting to a session in person or if their family/personal circumstances make the commute less accessible. Yet, anyone who has access to a private space and strong internet connection within Washington state can consider online therapy with me without having to be concerned about the commute. On the other hand, if you are able to travel, in-person counseling can make it easier to focus and offer needed space from your daily circumstances. Specifically, when working with your nervous system, I find that in-person therapy gives me more information to help us readily address and integrate what is happening in your body, mind, and emotions. Also, by meeting in person, you can consider establishing a much needed rhythm of self-care, allowing extra time immediately after your session for reflection and/or downtime in your week. I also am open to the possibility of blending online and in-person session. This can allow you to utilize the advantages of either modality depending on your changing internal and external circumstances.

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How does online counseling work?

Online counseling can feel something like talking to someone over Skype or FaceTime. The difference, though, is that I use an online platform that is secure and HIPAA-compliant for your privacy. I send you a link that connects you to a virtual waiting room, then allow you into the online session. I meet with you from the privacy of my office, and you make sure that you have a secure and private location as well.

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How can I get the most out of therapy?

I am so glad you are considering your part in the therapy process! Your active engagement will be crucial to your success. Making time outside of session to reflect on what we address in session can really support the change you desire. Once we start meeting, we can talk more about supportive work you can engage that is custom-tailored to your situation. While supplemental attention to your therapy outside of session can really help, it’s also important to honor that change can be really hard work! Because of this, it’s definitely important to also carve out extra space for yourself outside of session to allow your mind, body, and emotions the rest they need to get the most out of your therapy.

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“So come to the pond,

Or the river of your imagination,

Or the harbor of your longing,

And put your lips to the world.

And live

Your life.”

- Mary Oliver