Our initial consultation meeting will give me a chance to hear a bit about you and what brings you to therapy. While I believe that our most pressing task is to help you address your current difficulties and begin to feel better, I also think it is important to devote some time to exploration of aspects of your background and past experiences that may be impacting your present situation. The first session will also be an opportunity for us to get to know one another and see how we might work together. This will include discussion of your goals for therapy, the frequency of our meetings (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.), and the length of treatment. I recognize that therapy involves a significant commitment of time, money, and energy, and that you also have to balance it with many other obligations and priorities. Should we agree to proceed, I will work with you to develop a plan that both meets your needs and fits in with your schedule, with the understanding that the plan can be flexible and we may modify it as needed.
Once therapy begins our sessions will typically be 50 minutes in duration. As we start our work together many clients often express some uncertainty or apprehension about what to talk about in our meetings. Of course, during each session there will be the opportunity for us to explore any significant events or changes that have occurred since we last met. However, I also encourage my clients to not feel pressured to have a specific agenda or set of talking points in mind coming into a session. I believe that some of our greatest insights come when we put aside such pressures and allow our ourselves to follow whatever paths our thoughts or feelings lead us down. By taking an open, curious, and non-judgmental approach, we can begin to understand some of the more subtle forces that pull us to think, act, and feel as we do.
In the context of these discussions I will often ask follow-up questions or share my observations with you, and at times I may call attention to aspects of our interactions that I think could be relevant to your experience. While I often provide my clients with input about specific ways they may cope with their emotions or navigate certain situations, I do not typically give advice regarding decisions or choices they are faced with. This comes from a strong desire to respect my client's autonomy and independence, and to help them to experience a greater sense of control and mastery in their daily life. On a more personal note, I believe that for many of us humor and irony can be effective ways of coping with stress, and I appreciate a good joke or well-timed sarcasm. I also feel that our interests in art, music, popular culture, and hobbies often say a lot about who we are and how we view the world, and I usually try to devote time in our meetings to reflect on the parts of your life that give you enjoyment and gratification. Finally, over the course of our work together I encourage my clients to try to step outside their day-to-day struggles and consider larger questions of meaning and purpose. While I have found that the answers to such questions are seldom clear-cut and continuously evolve over the course of our life, I believe that it is only by allowing ourselves to wrestle with those questions that we can truly begin to understand ourselves and our place in the world.