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  • Writer's pictureDayna Sharp, LCSW

Questions for a Therapist

I'm often asked lots of questions about my work. I usually can't answer any of them--much of what I do is private, confidential and protected. But common questions do come up and some of them I can actually answer. Maybe you've had some of these questions too?

1. What the heck is therapy? And why are there so many different kinds of therapy?

Ironically, the first half of the question is the hardest one to answer. Probably because there are so many different styles of therapy. Simply put, therapy is an intentional relationship in which someone can feel better in their mind, body, relationships, work/school and life in general.

Psychology is what's known as a "soft science". We have lots of theory and ideas, lots of anecdotal evidence--stories about what's gone well, and there is alot of research that backs it up. But the human experience is complex, and short of Pavlov's ring-the-bell-and-the-dog-will-salivate, there are few absolutes in psychology. So, there are many ways to understand human psychology and psychotherapy. Some therapies focus on reframing thoughts, others focus on attachment and relationships, others focus on behavioral strategies. Some are great for acute symptoms--it HURTS right now!!--and others are wonderful for changing long-standing patterns. We know that people do not live in isolation--and therapy is no different. Who your therapist is--whether they talk about themselves much or not--greatly influences the kind of therapy they practice. That's in part why a "match" between therapist and therapy-seeker is so important!

2. How long do you work with the same clients?

This too depends. Some people are seeking shorter term therapy, and will respond well to short term therapies so they can learn new strategies to help them cope with uncomfortable symptoms. Others do best with longer term therapies, where they can explore real-time, with the therapist what feelings/thoughts/experiences come up talking to someone this case, the therapist. In focusing on the relationship with the therapist, people can learn more deeply the ways in which they relate to themselves, and the past influences their present and expectations for the futures...and how to relate differently to feel better, more balanced.

3. Do you ever work with clients more than once a week?

Yes! This is particularly helpful when people have had trauma, betrayals, harm done to them in the context of a relationship. Trauma, shame, rage can all live in relationships with others, and being in therapy more than once a week can be a wonderful way to experience new, healthy relationships--both in therapy and out.

4. Why is therapy so EXPENSIVE?!?

The unfortunate answer is that our health care and especially mental health care system is broken. Mental health therapy--especially preventative and general self care are de-valued in our society. Private practice therapists charge a rate that they an afford to make a living, pay for student loans, rent, insurance, supervision/consultation, continuing education, and on and on. Therapists who take insurance are often booked up--sometimes overbooked--and struggling just to survive financially. When you are paying for therapy, you are paying for your therapist's time and expertise, but most importantly, for their attention and care. You are also making an investment in yourself, your relationships, your future.

5. Do you enjoy working with your clients?

That's the easiest question to answer. A resounding YES! Sure, my job isn't always comfortable, but if that's what you're looking for, don't become a therapist! I really value building authentic relationships with my clients, and part of that has to include space for everything--comfortable or not. But everyday, I'm honored to serve witness to the amazing stories and resilience of human beings. It's really quite spectacular.

6. What's the hardest part of your work?

Every so often I'll have clients that leave therapy without notice and never return. At least not for a while. This is really hard because I often grow to care about my clients, and I'm always wondering if they are okay, if they have the support that they need, whether I could have done more to reach out, to support them...

7. Are you a therapist who doesn't say anything?

(Laughing). No, I'm not...I do talk in sessions. BUT I am careful not to talk too much! It can be uncomfortable to be in therapy--"What do I talk about? I don't want to talk about that--it's uncomfortable!", but when a therapist "rescues" a client by doing too much talking, there is always a danger of making the therapy about the therapist. Therapy is really about being seen--for all of our wonderful qualities, for our darkest parts and everything in between, so that we can love and accept ourselves, by being loved and accepted by another. But being seen can be scary. I work hard not to collude with that fear, and I definitely want my clients to take the wheel. But I also understand that it feels better so be seen by someone who is warm, caring, responsive--authentic!, and so that's important to me as well.

8. Since you're a therapist, do you have it all together?

(really laughing) No! I have it together enough to be consistent and honest and trustworthy, to offer a reliable, safe space...but part of being a therapist is knowing that no one has it all together. Life is messy, people are imperfect. Me too! But a good therapist knows what they need to work on, and knows when it's affecting their work. Part of good therapy is attending to the relationship--and every therapist should be willing to own when they've messed up. Because we all will make mistakes to some degree. All any of us can do is care enough to try, and to repair when we mis-stepped. Ask my family--I'm really good at that!

If you are interested in learning more about me, and my practice, feel free to call for a phone consultation. I'm happy to share more about my work, my training, and any other therapy-related questions you might have. #demysifyinghtherapy #createspaceforwellness



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