counseling at harbor health

Information for Counseling Patients

Welcome to my practice. I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to be of help to you. This brochure answers some questions that people often ask about therapy. I believe that our work will be most helpful to you when you have a clear idea of what we are trying to do. This brochure talks about the following:

  • What will be the goals of therapy?
  • What are my methods of treatment?
  • How long might therapy take?
  • What are the risks and benefits of therapy?
  • How much do my services cost, and how do I handle money matters?
  • What are some other important concerns?

After you read this brochure, we can talk together about how these issues apply to you. This brochure is yours to keep. Feel free to mark any parts that are not clear to you. Write down any questions you have so we can discuss them at our next meeting. When you have read and fully understood this brochure, I will ask you to sign it at the end. I will sign it as well and make a copy, so we each have one.

My Approach to Therapy

I strongly believe that you should feel comfortable with the therapist you choose and hopeful about the therapy. When you feel this way, therapy is more likely to be most helpful to you. Let me describe how I see therapy.

My theoretical approach is grounded in relational psychodynamic psychotherapy as well as attachment theory, and training in reflective practice. The most central idea in my work is that we are each uniquely shaped by social interactions beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout life. These interactions and experiences help to shape how we see ourselves and our relationship to others and the world. A safe exploratory relationship is central to my approach to psychotherapy, allowing you to express thoughts and feelings you have trouble expressing elsewhere, including thoughts and feelings you’ve struggled to allow yourself to fully know. Through deeper awareness and understanding of our internal processes and emotional life we can experience a greater range of options for responding to challenges and freedom from patterned relating that contributes to feeling stuck. 

I use a variety of techniques in therapy, working with you to find what will work best for you. These techniques are likely to include dialogue, reflection, interpretation, cognitive reframing, awareness exercises, mindfulness, self-monitoring experiments, journaling, play, drawing, and psychoeducation. You have the right to refuse anything I suggest. 

I view therapy as a partnership between us. You define the problem areas to be worked on; I use my specialized knowledge to help you make the changes you want to make. Additionally, I work from the philosophy that you are the most informed regarding your own healing process. When and if you have ideas about how to heal, please consider sharing so that you can help create your counseling experience. I expect us to plan our work together. We will agree upon the areas to work on, our goals, the methods we will use, the time and money commitments we will make, and some other things. From time to time, we will look together at our progress and goals. If we think we need to, we can then change our plan, its goals, or its methods.

I usually take notes during our meetings. You may find it useful to take your own notes, to remember important points or the steps you plan to take. You may also wish to take notes outside the office.

My Background

I am a licensed clinical social worker with 11 years of experience. I am trained and experienced in doing individual and family therapy with adults and children. I have provided therapy services to adults in long-term substance use recovery settings, alternative to incarceration programs, and to adults and children in community and tribal mental health clinics. I hold the following qualifications:

  • I have a master’s degree in social worker from the City University of New York’s Hunter College School of Social Work
  • I am licensed as a clinical social worker in Alaska
  • I am a member of the National Association of Social Workers
  • I am pursuing endorsement as an infant mental health specialist through the Alaska chapter of the Alliance for Infant Mental Health
  • I am currently participating in Child-Parent Psychotherapy training 

How Long Therapy Might Take

Length of therapy can vary depending on your specific needs and circumstances. Some people come to therapy with a specific issue or concern, and brief therapy may be the right fit. Often, that can last six to eight sessions. Other people come to therapy with more complicated issues they are grappling with and may feel they need a few months or more to understand and resolve their issues. Other people come with long-standing problems or difficult feelings and may benefit from longer-term therapy. Regardless of why you are seeking therapy or the type of therapy you are doing, it is important to remember that, ultimately, it is your decision as to when you stop therapy. 

If you are unsure about what you need/want by way of length of treatment, we can discuss it together. 

Clarifying what you want from therapy can help you figure out if you have met your goals and when you are ready to stop therapy. As our work progresses, I periodically check in to see how you feel the work is going and to what extent you feel your goals are being met. 

The process of ending therapy, called “termination,” can be a very valuable part of our work and well worth spending our time on. We will review our goals, the work we have done, any future work that needs to be done, and our options. 

The Risks and Benefits of Therapy

As with any powerful treatment, there are some risks as well as many benefits of therapy. You should think about both the benefits and risks when making any treatment decisions. For example, in therapy there is a risk that you will, for a time, have uncomfortable levels of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, helplessness, or other difficult feelings. You may recall unpleasant memories. These feelings or memories may bother you for a while. While in therapy, some people may have problems with people important to them, like relatives and peers. Family secrets may be told. Therapy may disrupt a marital or couple relationship, and may even lead to a separation or divorce. Sometimes, too, a person’s problems may worsen after the beginning of therapy. Risks like these are temporary and should be expected when people are making important changes in their lives. Finally, even with our best efforts, there is a risk that therapy may not work out as you would like. All of these should be weighed against the costs of not changing and continuing as you are.

While you consider these risks, you should know also that many benefits of therapy have been shown by scientists in hundreds of well-designed research studies. Most people will find their symptoms greatly lessened, will feel more confident and relaxed, and will improve their daily functioning. People who are depressed may find their mood lifting. Other people may no longer feel afraid, angry, or anxious. In therapy, people have a chance to talk things out fully until their feelings are relieved or the problems are resolved. Participant’s relationships and coping skills can improve greatly. They may get more satisfaction out of social and family relationships. Their personal goals and values may become clearer. They may grow in many directions—as persons, in their close relationships, in their work or schooling, and in the ability to enjoy their lives.

I do not take on clients I do not think I can help. Therefore, I will enter our relationship with optimism about our progress.

Download New Patient Packet

You can download and print your packet before your first appointment.