During the first meeting, I gather background information and explore the client's reasons for seeking therapy. Together, we discuss what changes the client hopes to make and how therapy could help accomplish these goals. During this session, the client also has the opportunity to see whether my therapeutic style is a good fit for him or her. My approach to therapy is interactive and supportive, as I listen carefully to the client's thoughts and feelings and provide feedback with the aim of increasing self-awareness to help promote change. My treatment philosophy is that past experiences, particularly within the family, strongly influence an individual's current strengths and areas of concern. As such, we may explore relevant areas from the past in order to gain insight into patterns that affect one's present life. However, the main focus is kept on current concerns, and more directive interventions may be integrated into our work as well.
Some clients feel satisfied with improvements within a few to several sessions, while other clients remain in therapy for a much longer period of time in order to more comprehensively address their issues. Most clients attend sessions on a weekly basis. However, some individuals attend therapy more or less frequently depending on their treatment goals and needs.
Some adolescents initiate therapy because they are dissatisfied with some aspect of their lives and would like to make changes. Others are referred because of parent or teacher concerns about their mood, behavior, or social life. Therapy is generally focused on helping teens understand themselves as much as possible in order to facilitate healthy development and decision-making as they negotiate the challenges of adolescence. This can result in improved mood, self-esteem, relationships, and judgment.
I start the counseling process by conducting an initial assessment that involves at least one meeting with the adolescent in order to gain his or her perspective, and a separate meeting with parents in order to gather background information. The assessment sometimes includes a meeting with the parents and the teen together. I then provide feedback about my initial clinical impressions and suggestions for treatment. Issues involving confidentiality are also discussed and agreed upon, since it is important that adolescents and parents know that therapy sessions are private, with a few exceptions. Family therapy or parent meetings are sometimes recommended as well.
The children I see in therapy are usually kindergarten age or older. I start the counseling process by conducting an initial assessment that involves two to three sessions. In the first session, I meet with parents in order to discuss their reasons for seeking help and to gather background information about the child. In the second and third sessions, I usually meet individually with the child in a therapeutic playroom in order to better understand his or her developmental strengths and areas of concern. The therapeutic playroom has a variety of art materials, toys, and games that help the child feel comfortable and provide ways of communicating in addition to talking. After these few meetings, I provide feedback to the parents about my initial clinical impressions and suggestions for treatment.
Ongoing sessions usually involve a combination of talk therapy and therapeutic play. I attempt to work on problem areas as directly as possible with the child, while simultaneously supporting strengths and a positive self-esteem. However, since children vary greatly in their ability to specifically identify and talk about issues, a variety of therapeutic approaches are often used. In most cases, I also meet at least periodically with parents in order to better understand any issues that may be affecting the child and to offer feedback and suggestions. I view my meetings with parents as a collaborative process, where we work together to help address their child's challenges as effectively as possible.