Starting couples therapy
Couples therapy can be a daunting prospect. Many couples arrive in the midst of a relational crisis – an affair, a threat of separation or a fight that got out of hand and scared both parties. Other couples seek therapy because one partner feels dissatisfied or hopeless about the relationship but doesn’t want it to end.
Sometimes both partners are willing participants in couples therapy, sometimes not. Often the biggest reason for reluctance is fear of being blamed for the failure of the relationship. Others fear the “stigma” of needing therapy and would rather try and work things out for themselves. But all of us could use a little help from time to time.
Vicki strongly believes that we are a complex product of nature, nurture and experience, and that we all come by our issues honestly. Yet often, our complexities don’t show up until we are in a romantic relationship. Suddenly, we find our past wounds being bumped, our shame-wires being tripped, and our partners reminding us (whether we recognize it consciously or not) of someone from our family-of-origin who scared us, invalidated us, or never allowed us to be right. Understanding where we come from and how we differ from our partner can be a significant part of growing in intimacy in our relationship. Emotional intimacy is complex and gaining tools to help us navigate these waters brings lifelong happiness.
Because our anxiety can be lessened by having some idea of what to expect, the next page covers a general outline of Vicki’s couples therapy process. Please bear in mind, however, that every couple is different and that your couples therapy will be especially tailored to you and the unique concerns you bring.
Starting therapy takes courage. Many clients only call a therapist when they have tried everything they know how to do. Others are tired of reaching the same crossroads again and again – be it in their relationships, their career or with an issue such as anxiety, insomnia or a past experience that keeps them from living life to the fullest. Whatever is bringing you to therapy, Vicki will be more than happy to chat with you about the options available to you, and how she can be helpful.
Starting Individual Counseling
Therapy can be a daunting process. Oftentimes the most difficult step is making the first appointment. Oftentimes clients feel better just knowing they have made an appointment.
Starting therapy takes courage. Many clients only call a therapist when they have tried everything they know how to do. Others are tired of reaching the same crossroads again and again – be it in their relationships, their career or with an issue such as anxiety, insomnia or a past experience that keeps them from living life to the full. Whatever is bringing you to therapy, Vicki will be more than happy to chat with you about the options available to you, and how she can be helpful.
Vicki’s therapy process
All therapists work a little differently – according to their training, their licensure, the setting in which they practice, their own family history and the kind of therapy they themselves have undertaken. Vicki integrates her own experience from the worlds of business, academia, personal life and therapy to provide her clients with a structured approach that is simultaneously educational, practical and compassionate. Her goal is to provide effective interventions for current concerns while also facilitating longer-term change.
In order to give you an idea of what to expect from therapy with Vicki, a general outline of her process is provided here.
The first few sessions
Preparing for your first session
It saves a lot of time in the first session if you can complete Vicki’s New Client Paperwork and bring it with you when you come. Many of us find our first therapy session anxiety-provoking, so it’s worth planning to arrive early to ease any anxiety you may have.
Vicki spends a few minutes of the first session running through the paperwork and legalities of therapy, including nailing down details of confidentiality, insurance and payment. She then invites you to ask any questions you have about her or about therapy in general.
The bulk of the session is taken up with drawing a genogram – or family map – which provides a lot of useful information about who you are, how you grew up and what you’re bringing to life. The remainder of the session is reserved for discussing what is bringing you to therapy now and what you hope will be different in your life as a result.
At the end of the session, Vicki will offer you the opportunity to schedule your next session or to go away and think about it if you’re not sure. For the optimal therapeutic results a good connection between the client and the therapist is essential. If you feel the connection is not what you had hoped it would be; Vicki will be happy to refer you to another professional.
During the second session, Vicki will spend time going through your intake form (the long one you filled out) to learn a bit more about you and get a baseline of your symptoms. She will also discuss the best diagnosis for you, which is necessary if insurance is paying for your treatment. The remainder of the session is used to summarize and prioritize issues, discuss goals and for Vicki to provide suggestions for her treatment approach.
Between the second and third sessions, Vicki goes through all the information gathered from the first two sessions and develops a comprehensive treatment plan. She will provide this for you in the third session so that you can give your input, ask questions and make any changes. This is where therapy truly begins! At this point, the structure of sessions becomes more fluid, as Vicki will weave the strategies from the treatment plan into discussions over whatever issues you encountered during your week. If nothing specific happened in your week that needs addressing, Vicki will attend to the goals on your treatment plan directly, using her approach of education and practical intervention.
Rest assured that Vicki will check in with you regularly on your symptoms, therapy goals and how you feel the therapy is working for you.
Graduating from therapy
Vicki’s goal for every client is that they will graduate from therapy with the ability to wholeheartedly say, “I’m okay with who I am” or “I’m comfortable in my own skin”.
How long it takes to get there depends on many factors in the client’s history, including the intensity of issues and frequency of appointments. You will know when you are not feeling the need for therapy any longer.
Once a client is ready to graduate, Vicki will facilitate a review of the therapy process, checking in on the symptoms that brought them in and the goals set. Graduation is always bittersweet as it marks the culmination of a huge amount of work, progress and a new life ahead, while at the same time marking the end of the therapy relationship. Vicki always offers the opportunity to return at any time – even if only for a one-time check-in. She also loves to receive updates from former clients by email!