What Happens in a Therapy Session?

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — C.G. Jung

I approach each client with the immediate priority of relieving any troubling symptoms and resolving current life problems, ensuring a safe, supportive, professional environment to work on these issues. During your session, you can talk about whatever is on your mind. There is no problem too large or too small to address. Often I suggest starting the session with whatever is most emotionally energized for you in that moment, rather than trying to prepare a list of items to discuss in advance. Usually this leads us pretty directly to whatever issue is of greatest importance.

If you’ve remembered a dream, we might work with it as a way of increasing your understanding of your situation. Dream work can often expend your perspective on the patterns beneath immediate problems.

Although my approach is psychoanalytic, I subscribe to new developments in relational and interpersonal psychoanalysis that have developed in recent years. Rather than focusing primarily on past experiences, I help my clients integrate the past with the present.

My approach blends increasing self-awareness with understanding how the mind and emotions work, to help my clients take responsibility for changing their lives. I am an active participant in the therapy process and am willing to provide feedback if the client requests it.

What can I expect in my first session?

After we’ve introduced ourselves, I will ask you to have a seat and tell me about your current concerns. Even when people have considered therapy for some time, there is often a recent experience that prompts the person to make an initial appointment. Sometimes people have reached a crisis point in a relationship, job situation or health issue. At other times, internal difficulties such as anxiety, insomnia or difficulty handling painful feelings may have led you to call. Some people may simply feel a sense of uneasiness or discomfort, even if they are not sure exactly why they are coming.

Making the decision to see a therapist is difficult and it takes courage. It is normal to feel anxious. My job is to help you relax, talk about yourself freely, and begin to feel better. I encourage you to express any questions or concerns about participating in therapy, including how the process works and anything about my credentials or experience that may be important to you.

How long is a session?

A typical session lasts for fifty minutes. Some people prefer to schedule “double sessions” (100 minutes). This can work well for couples or for people who are traveling a greater distance.

Do we have to talk about the past?

Although my approach is psychoanalytic, I subscribe to new developments in relational and interpersonal psychoanalysis that have blossomed in recent years. Rather than focusing primarily on past events, I help my clients integrate the past with the present. We have all been shaped by our past experiences, and we tend to unconsciously repeat old patterns until we work them through. Understanding the experiences that have influenced you can bring valuable insight and perspective to your current situation. Change requires expanded awareness. Self-knowledge is power.

What is your position on medication?

Some people seek therapy as an alternative to medication and are successful in doing so. Others find that the combination of medication and therapy works better for them. If appropriate, we can discuss medication and I’ll provide information to help you make a decision. I do not prescribe medication.

While both medication and therapy can be effective for conditions like depression and anxiety, the benefits of medication continue only as long as you keep taking the drugs. Because effective therapy brings about changes in attitudes, thinking and behavior, the results are more likely to last.

What about confidentiality?

Your work with me is confidential. However, there are certain situations involving abuse, neglect or the intent to harm oneself or others which I am legally obligated to disclose.

How long does therapy take?

Therapy can be brief, long-term or somewhere in between. The length of time depends on a number of factors including the severity and nature of the problem you are experiencing and how long it has been an issue. The decision of how long to continue is always up to you. Many people do not require long term therapy in order to accomplish their goals. Other people discover new goals along the way and decide to continue. Still others take time off and return later.