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How Often Should I See My Therapist?

How Often Should I See My Therapist?

How often should I see my Therapist?

“How often should I plan to come see you?” This is a question I often get from prospective clients early on in our work together. My answer: every week.

Therapy is a unique relationship, and has the potential to be one of your most powerful relationships. A psychotherapeutic relationship holds the possibility for transforming lifelong patterns of relating to others in ways that ultimate don’t serve you. Do you:

  • Tend to get into conflicts with the people closest to you and later regret how you handled the situation?
  • Ghost your friends or intimate partners when things get tough?
  • Feel emotional overwhelm when stresses are high?
  • Choose not to share your needs with others out of the fear of being a burden?
  • Feel abandoned when others don’t respond to your efforts to connect immediately?

These are all ways of relating that can be hard to recognize in ourselves and even harder to change. Often, exploring these dynamics, or ways of relating, is a part of the work of therapy.

The key word when it comes to therapy is relationship.

There is a saying among therapists “it’s the relationship that heals.” The saying was coined by Irvin Yalom, a therapist and author, and it speaks truth to how therapy actually works.

The wounding that causes individuals to reach out for help in the first place was caused in a relationship. And the healing for that wound takes place within the context of a relationship.

And relationships take time to build, effort to maintain, and must be valued as a priority if they are going to be effective at upending long-standing patterns. 

But what if I can only afford to visit my Therapist every-other week? 

First, I would encourage you, if you are in this position, to really soul-search on this one. Can you truly not afford to go to therapy weekly, or does the idea of having to meet your therapist every week inspire anxiety or dread? Does it feel too intense or overwhelming? 

If this is the case, consider sharing this information with your therapist so they can help. Perhaps making weekly meetings something you can work toward could be beneficial while also allowing you to go at a pace you can feel comfortable with to start. 

If you can afford it, I strongly encourage you to commit to it. You will feel more progress, sooner. Psychotherapy is not necessarily something that one is meant to enter into forever more. It is intended to be a healing, supportive, or skills-based training experience for a period (or many periods) in your life. Make it a priority in your budget if and when you are feeling that you need it, and when that piece of work is complete (that issue has resolved, that pattern is upended, or that goal has been attained), suspend your therapy for as long as you like. 

If you are dedicated to coming to therapy weekly but can not afford my full fee, I do offer a sliding scale of $100 – $125 for select clients. Please feel free to ask me about it. 

 

Reading the Headlines

One analogy I often use involves coming to therapy twice a month is like reading the news headlines. You come in, “read me the highlights” and we get caught up just in time for our session to be complete. Then you’re off for another two weeks. There isn’t enough time to read through the entire story of what’s happening, nor is there time to really explore how what is happening is affecting you and how we might work to manage or mitigate those impacts. 

 

I often say to my clients “I would rather see you for six-months doing weekly sessions than for a year of every-other week.” Why? Because we can go deeper, accomplish more, and you’ll get more out of it. I know this from my decade of working in private practice and experiencing both weekly and bi-weekly schedules with my clients. 

 

*An exception: I have had a few clients over the years that have been able to maintain the focus and discipline of doing the work of therapy at a bi-weekly pace, however, for most people this has proven to be a challenge. 

 

But what if I can only come to therapy monthly? 

Monthly visits are not in-depth psychotherapy. They are check-ins. And check-ins are fine under certain circumstances: 

 

  • If you have been doing weekly therapy for months or years and want to continue your meetings with your therapist to feel the benefit of continued support after making significant strides on your goals. 
  • When you have a very specific issue that you want to consult about with your therapist. 

 If you are just starting out in therapy, monthly meetings are likely going to prove frustrating and the odds that you’ll stay the course long enough to see the benefits are slim. 

 

 

What if I want to come to counseling more frequently? 

Occasionally I meet with people more than once a week. If you find yourself in a situation that is deeply distressful and you feel that you’d benefit from multiple sessions a week, let me know. 

 

Are there resources for low-fee therapy so that I can work weekly with a therapist whose rate is within my budget? 

Yes! Check out Open Path Psychotherapy Collective to find therapists offering sliding scale spots for therapy in the range of $30-$60. 

 

Questions for me about my practice? Contact me today!  

What is Complex Trauma?

What is Complex Trauma?

Most of us have heard about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and many of us associate PTSD with the military and experiences of being in combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder indicates a psychological response to an acutely traumatic situation. It was coined and popularized in the 1970s after veterans were returning home from their deployments in Vietnam exhibiting the effects of the extreme stress that they’d been under. This stress was often the result of a moral injury. I’ll be diving into moral injury in an upcoming blogpost, so stay tuned for that! For now, let’s dive into CPTSD.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is also known as slow trauma, complex trauma, or developmental trauma, is trauma that occurs over a longer period of time, and happens during our childhood. It is a more recent development in the psychology world and in 2015, Pete Walker released his seminal book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. 

In his book, Walker takes us into the world of this all-too-common phenomenon and clarifies what it is, where, when and how it happens, and what we can do to heal.

CPTSD is a more severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder. – Pete Walker

CPTSD is often caused by growing up in a severely abusive and/or neglectful family system. This includes abandonment and abuse on a physical, emotional, verbal, and/or spiritual level. While many adults who have CPTSD were physically hit/beaten in childhood, that is not a mandatory factor.

The core wound in CPTSD is emotional neglect. This occurs when there is no safe adult to turn to for comfort or protection in times of real or perceived danger.

Five pernicious qualities of CPTSD are:

  • social anxiety
  • triggers that create intense emotional overwhelm/emotional flashbacks
  • a vicious inner critic
  • toxic shame
  • self-abandonment

 

Here’s a list of factors that, if present during your childhood years, may indicate your possible exposure to that Complex PTSD:

  • extended periods of physical or sexual abuse
  • ongoing verbal or emotional abuse (this includes being intimidated, threatened, shamed, or name-called)
  • being treated with contempt by a caregiver (with denigration, rage and/or disgust)
  • emotional neglect (not providing support, safety, education or advocacy during intense emotional experiences)
  • feeling that you didn’t have a voice, or that your voice/values/desires were not honored by your caregivers
  • your attempts at healthy self-assertion were met with resistance or retaliation/being called “selfish,” ignored, or punished by a parent

The good news, as Walker states, is that:

CPTSD is a learned set of responses, and a failure to complete numerous important developmental tasks.

In other words, CPTSD is something we can heal from.

If these words resonate for you, and you are ready to heal, reach out. Let’s get it going.

The Engaging Therapist

The Engaging Therapist

Lately I have had a lot of talks with brave souls, reaching out for support as they endeavor to get clarity and work on themselves. During my free consultation by phone these individuals have expressed some desire about the type of therapist they want.

“Are you the type of therapist that is… interactive?” they ask.

“I want someone who will talk with me, not just sit quietly the whole time.”

“Of course!” is my typical response. Of course you want to have a therapist who is active in the room, who is curious and present and wants to know more. Someone who is eager to understand things in the hopes of shining a light into the unknown parts of your psyche so that both of us can get clear about where things are stuck.

“I’ve only had experiences with counselors who say very little, and that’s really not what I’m looking for. I want feedback and direction. I actually swore off therapy for a long time because of these experiences, but I’m finally willing to give it another shot.”

Hearing stories like these makes me incredibly sad. I know the courage it takes to pick up the phone and say “hey, I am struggling here and I need help.” The courage it takes to go into a stranger’s office and spill the beans about the ways you’ve been doing things you don’t want to keep doing, the ways you are suffering or are clueless about how to remedy things in your own life takes guts. To go through all of that and find yourself feeling alone and without engagement can be deeply disappointing, at best. For individuals that are struggling with feeling isolated or have a long history of not feeling seen or heard, it can be re-traumatizing.

All therapists have their own unique style of relating. Some therapists use modalities that are very directive, such as in the case of cognitive behavioral therapists and dialectical behavioral therapists. Analysts typically say less and listen more. While I do not identify as a “directive” therapist per se, I would say that my style is engaging.

I want to know what’s happening in your life and what you make of it. I want to hear your reasoning and your motivations. I am curious about your thought processes and your belief systems. I am listening for the places your feel well and strong and clear and the places that you harbor fears, uncertainly and self doubt.

I have tools and skills to share when you are ready to begin to make changes and try something new.

As an engaging therapist, I very much want to connect with you and, together, do the important work of exploration and growth.

Asheville Holistic Therapy

Asheville Holistic Therapy

The word holistic has become ubiquitous over the past ten years. But what does holistic therapy really mean?

According to Dictonary.com, here’s the definition of holistic:

Holistic – (adjective)

  • Incorporating the concept of holism, or the idea that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts, in theory or practice:holistic psychology.
  • Medicine/Medical. identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures: holistic medicine.

The Whole Is More Than The Sum of Its Parts

As it applies to my counseling practice in Asheville, holistic therapy takes three forms:

1. The fundamental viewpoint that sees all individuals as whole, complete, unbroken and innately capable of healing. the knowledge that all people are more than the sum of their parts. Everyone contains an essence that is uniquely their own; everyone has a soul. Regardless of the anxiety, depression, confusion, stuck-ness, overwhlem or neurosis that you are dealing with right now, I know that you also have the capability to feel calm, clear, confident, at peace and joyful. 

2. The process and methods used in the psychotherapeutic process by the therapist. For me, this is exemplified by my taking an eclectic approach to the therapeutic relationship. In my fifteen years experience working with individuals, I have come to know that not everyone responds well to the same modality. Nor should they. People have different interests and experiences that lead them to develop preferences. For some, an evidence-based methodology that has been tested via research studies and is scientifically proven to help heal is what works best. 

For others, it is the relationship they have with their therapist that makes the greatest impact. 

The methods I use with my clients vary, and are informed by what my clients are open to, interested in, and willing to try. I often will use highly experiential techniques including dialogues, imagery exercises, dreamwork, and mindfulness meditation. I will also incorporate more traditional modalities including cognitive-behavioral techniques depending on what my client needs and my assessment of their needs. 

3. Not pushing meds. While I am not a medication manager and my license does not allow for me to prescribe medications, I also do not tend to express a strong preference for my clients to get on meds as the solution to all ails. To be clear: there are certain circumstances in which I feel medication can help. When that is the case, I bring it up, and we talk about that possibility. But that is not my first suggestion.

My aim is to support the amazing people I get to work with to find balance and well-being in their lives. If that includes medication for a period of time, fine. If it doesn’t, that is also absolutely fine. I always stress the importance of still doing the work of healing, which is not the same thing as taking a pill. You can do both.

 

 

If it sounds like we could be a good fit and you’d like to explore working with me in my Asheville, holistic therapy office, reach out today.

Transitions Are Tough

Transitions Are Tough

 

In the course of a human life-span, there are so many transitions to contend with. Most of us will transition, as children, from one school to another. Many of us will move from one home to another, sometimes it will be a ‘big move’ to another state. About half of us will deal with the divorce of our parents in childhood. 

As adults, we often have major transitions to college and into the working world. At these times we are thrust into a new world that demands that we find new resources: new people to depend on, new grocery stores to find our sustenance, new schedules and daily routines. We may have to find new ways to relate if we are in an entirely different culture.

In any transition there is often an anticipatory period, an acute period of active transitioning and an adjustment period.

In the anticipatory period we are contemplating the transition and planning for the change to come. This phase can take weeks, months, or years. When the transition is a sudden death or unexpected situation, we skip this phase. 

In acute transition we are in the throes of labor and delivery if we are giving birth, we are hauling boxes and furniture if we are moving, we are signing a marital license and saying our vows if we are getting married, or having the difficult conversations about terminating a relationship if one needs to come to an end. The acute phase is the shortest one, but often the most emotionally or physically taxing. 

In adjustment, we are working on acclimating to our new life situation. Unpacking – both literally and figuratively – is taking place. Perhaps we enlist the support of a friend or therapist to process the shift and come to terms with what has taken place and how we can reorient ourselves to what is happening now.

 

When life’s big changes take place, we often lose our rhythm with our coping skills and healthy habits. Due to various factors, we stop doing the things that we generally rely on to keep us grounded or centered.

This is a big part of what makes transitions so hard: 

STRESS

Another major factor:

UNCERTAINTY

While smooth transitions are ideal, they don’t always happen. Last minute SNAFUs, delays, and setbacks seem more likely when we’re in the midst of making changes. Uncertainty and the anxiety that it can bring about can be so overwhelming that it can keep us stuck in the familiar, yet undesirable, forever. 

Life Transition Therapy in Asheville

If you are finding yourself in a period of transition and would like to talk about what is coming up for you: whether you are seeking closure, clarity, or needing support, I would be happy to help. Contact me today to see if we’d be a good fit to work together. 

 

Sex Positive Therapy in Asheville

Sex Positive Therapy in Asheville

Asheville is such a wonderfully unique community. An oasis of open-mindedness and diversity amid an otherwise deeply conservative bible belt. In the abundant therapeutic community we have, your options for providers are many. When it comes to wanting to talk about some of the most intimate aspects of your humanity, your gender identity or sexual life, the provider you choose for counseling can determine the success of your endeavor.

I offer a sex-positive approach, which promotes safe and consensual expressions of sexuality. It is my view that sexuality, in its many forms, is a healthy and life-giving part of our human experience.

Sexual experience is not the same for everyone. Not everyone chooses monogamy. Everyone does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Sexual attraction to the “opposite gender” is not always the case. It is vital to honor these variations in our experience.

I offer gender-affirming care in my psychotherapy practice for individuals that identify as gender diverse, gender nonconforming, transgender, genderqueer, or nonbinary.

In my counseling practice I work with:

  • LGBTQIA
  • Monogamy and Polyamory
  • Kink/BDSM
  • Sexual Identity
  • Gender Identity
  • Transgenderism
  • Sexual Self-Esteem and Confidence
  • Infidelity
  • Sexual Dissatisfaction

As a cisgender female identifying woman (pronouns: she/her/hers) I am aware of my own privilege and I am not an expert on, nor do I truly understand what it is like to be trans or gender nonconforming. However, I do have a deep respect for these experiences and can support, affirm, and hold space for individuals on these journeys.

Also, while I am not a certified sex therapist, and I do not provide couples therapy, I can offer a knowledge base of issues faced by individuals struggling in the areas of gender, intimacy, sexual preference, and anxiety related to sex.

I offer an accepting, non-judgmental space to explore your unique sexuality and challenges you are facing.

Contact me today to see if we’d be a good fit to work together.