Questions I may ask you as we work together:
- What brings you to therapy? Have you ever been in therapy before?
- Do you have any brothers or sisters?
- Where are you in the birth order of your family?
- Tell me about the last dream you had.
- Do you play a musical instrument? If not, have you ever thought about it?
- What are your parents like? Do you talk to them?
- Does your family have any rules, either explicit or unspoken?
- Did you grow up in a particular faith community (religion)?
- Is there any alcoholism or substance abuse in your family?
- What qualities do you look for in a best friend?
- What do you hate about yourself? Okay, now what do you love about yourself?
Angela's Approach to Counseling
You may be wondering what to expect when coming to a counseling session with me.
Some of you may even be in therapy for the first time ever, wondering how talking about your problems could possibly help make things better. How do we even measure success in mental health treatment?
Healing is a tough thing to put your finger on. Progress is neither linear nor predictable, and emotional wellness is hard to quantify. Your best gauge for success in therapy may just be the response of your friends, family, and loved ones as they see the positive changes you make over time. A lifetime of negative thinking and ingrained habits doesn’t change overnight.
Because no two clients are the same, everyone needs therapy tailored to their own specific needs and goals. You deserve more than manualized, formulaic mental health treatment.
Just as no two cases of clinical depression will ever be alike, clients are more than just the symptoms they come in with. While most traditional therapy these days targets a reduction in symptoms, I am more concerned with moving towards making lasting changes in your life – changes that will affect all of your relationships and your family for generations to come.
I was trained in a school of psychology called Existential Psychotherapy, which is not so much a technique as it is a way of approaching this thing we call humanity. Existential Psychotherapy puts a premium on looking at our life experiences and stories in a way that tries to find meaning and purpose in all that we believe, think, and do. What you think of your life and what has happened to you influences how you choose to live it.
There is no one who can tell your life story with all of its joys and sorrows, accomplishments, and regrets the way you will tell it. My role is to be the one who listens to your story with understanding and compassion, and offer my own perspective.
As a therapist I am asked not only to listen attentively, but to understand your nature and that of the people around you. There are those whose behavior will be a mystery to you, and you may find my insights helpful in understanding why the people you know do and say the things they do. What was once confusing may start to make sense once you have a grasp of patterns in human behavior. The jumbled Rubik’s cube starts to come together.
That understanding may not change your situation, but it may help you to make better choices, opening up possibilities you might not have thought you had.
This type of psychotherapy is not so much about what I do as it is who I am with my clients. My very own style of working with clients that is rooted in my ability to
1) see another person with the clarity they need,
2) be open to the often painful complexities of human experience and
3) allow my clients to see and know me in a relationship that is profoundly and emotionally intimate.
At times I may also incorporate tools I have picked up from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which I have found helpful in my work with those suffering from mood disorders and personality disorders. My arts and entertainment background in theater and performance will also help me to key in on any musical, artistic, or creative work we can do together that will help in your recovery.
I offer constructive feedback during sessions -- so it won’t feel like it’s just you talking the entire time as you wonder what I’m thinking about. I will at times ask you to do homework. Homework may involve reading a particular book, drawing a cartoon, keeping a dream journal, writing a reflection, attending a 12-step meeting, or trying something new. My approach is creative and at times unorthodox, but always ethical. You may be asked to go beyond your comfort zone, and that's a good thing if you're willing to try it with me.
This is not the type of therapy in which I sit with you as an impassive, indifferent, unknowable observer of your life. I see my role more as a good friend and trusted adviser who offers you the space to discuss whatever it is you need to talk about, but who will also challenge you to think and act in new ways. All of this requires that I accept you just the way you are – but that I care too much to let you stay stuck in your own rut.
This is not so much a treatment modality as it is a way of being with others, a way that is open to exploring – with curiosity and wonder -- the mystery of the person sitting before me.
Psychotherapy can open up new possibilities for seeing another with a greater clarity, as well as opportunities to be seen and understood through the eyes of another loving soul. How we see another informs the way we treat that person, but the Face of the Other is always calling out to us to do no harm; to act with courage and kindness. We are continuously called to look again, to take a closer look.
This is the very literal meaning of Respect: “to look again.” Come with me and take a closer look at yourself.