What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy” as it is commonly known, is a powerful method of healing.  During our weekly visits, we will explore areas of your life that bring you pain and unhappiness.  I will ask questions, offer alternative perspectives, and at times provide gentle confrontations to help you deepen your understanding about your life.  I will rely on you to bring in information or questions for our discussion, and to be as open and as honest as you can about your impressions, fears, and concerns about your life and about the therapy process.

Initial consultation

During our initial consultation, I will ask a few questions so I can get a better idea about what brings you into therapy and what you are looking for in your therapist and your treatment. This is a time for us to determine whether there is a mutual good fit between us. I will also want to hear about your past experiences in therapy, if any—what you liked and what you didn’t like. This will help me tailor my approach in working with you or guide me in making a referral to another therapist whose approach suits your preferences.

First session

In our first full session, I will ask you some questions about your background and life experiences—this will help me better understand the person you are today.  I may take some notes to help me remember what we discuss.  With few exceptions, that is the only time I will take notes or structure the therapy session with any kind of “agenda.”  The rest of the time, I will apply my strengths to create a foundation for good therapy—deep listening, lots of compassion, and a natural curiosity about your life and the possibilities within it.

Early on, I will want to hear about your goals for therapy— that is, what you’re hoping to get out of the process.  If you’re not sure what your goals are, that’s not a problem.  We may spend some time at the beginning having some conversations about what you think the problem is—by clarifying the problem, we will have more luck in understanding what your solution will be.  Periodically, I will check in with you to see if you are still getting what you need from the process and where we are with your goals.  I will rely on you to give me feedback about what you are getting out of therapy.

I admit that I still sometimes struggle to describe therapy to a newcomer.  It is hard to wrap words around such a powerful process.  The main ingredients of powerful therapy are first felt with the heart and then incorporated by the mind.  So, a consultation is a good way to get a taste of that felt sense—it permits me to show by doing rather than simply talking about it.  In the end, I think the transformative element of therapy is in being seen, understood, and accepted in the presence of another.  It’s no wonder, then, that the relationship between the client and therapist is the key to successful treatment.


Do you have a question for me?  Contact me.