My Therapy Style
My work is grounded in interpersonal process and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies, but over the years, I have been greatly influenced by systems theory, ecotherapy, and mindfulness-based approaches. All professional jargon aside, what you need to know is that I take a collaborative, mindful, and open approach to therapy. I do not pretend to know what anyone else’s life should look like. Rather, I see the client as my partner in exploring his or her unique personal world. I do not impose my own strict theories, which may or may not be relevant or helpful. Instead, I encourage the client to participate in defining problems and setting goals. Throughout this process, I remain open about my thoughts and observations, and I treat clients with the respect and dignity they deserve.
One of my favorite metaphors is that a psychotherapist is much like a mountaineering guide. I help dedicated travelers reach distant summits safely and efficiently. I do not choose the destination or carry you (or your gear) up the mountain, but I do lend my experience in selecting and planning routes, recognizing hazards, acknowledging potentials and limitations, marking accomplishments, and pointing out the beauty of the journey itself. I believe this approach allows my clients to feel empowered as they take responsibility for reaching their own goals.
Areas of Expertise
In my practice, I work primarily with adults in individual therapy. I enjoy working with a wide range of therapy issues, including (but not limited to) the following areas of expertise:
Anxiety, Stress, Depression, and Wellness – This area defines the bulk of my clinical work. I specialize in helping clients understand and resolve the barriers that prevent them from living satisfying and healthy lives. These barriers may include family-of-origin issues, relationship issues, recent or past trauma, eating disorders, life transitions and adjustment issues, anger issues, basic self-care issues, or anything else that relates to anxiety or depression. Sometimes, this work simply involves training a client in new life skills, such as healthy sleep habits, relaxation, or time management. Other times, it means deeper work over a longer period of time.
Multicultural Therapy – Thanks to a wealth of personal and professional experiences, another area of expertise is working with culturally-diverse clients, especially those from Asian, South Pacific, Central and South American, and Native American backgrounds. I also work extensively with clients from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Kink and Polyamorous communities. I respect my clients’ individual values, beliefs, and experiences, and I tailor therapy to fit each client.
Spirituality-Centered Therapy – Similar to cultural diversity, I also work with clients from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds, and I will gladly bring religion or spirituality into the therapy process, if that is what the client prefers. I understand that psychological and spiritual health are part of the same continuum and that, for some clients, the most effective therapy is done by recognizing and exploring this connection.
Values Clarification & Career/Life Planning – This area of expertise has evolved out of my training in career counseling, my research into values development, and my clinical experiences working with clients who feel dissatisfied with their lives. This work is most effective when it involves an exploration of identity and values at a very personal level.
What to Expect
When you first contact me about therapy, I will ask a few basic questions about your presenting concerns. We will also check to make sure that I am compatible with your insurance and your schedule. If it seems appropriate for us to schedule an appointment, we will discuss fees and methods of payment (cash, check, or insurance). Before coming in for therapy, you will be asked to fill out some paperwork, which can be downloaded HERE.
In order to ensure the welfare and best interests of potential therapy clients, I do a thorough history and evaluation, which typically takes one to two 50-minute sessions. At the beginning of this intake process, we will discuss fees, the likely nature and duration of therapy, any potential risks, my abuse reporting policies, and other limits to confidentiality. You will then be invited to tell the story of why you came in. I will ask many follow-up questions, and I will do my best to answer any questions that you may have. At the end of this process, we will discuss my general observations and the various therapy options available to you. If we decide to work together in an ongoing therapy relationship, we will finish the intake process by developing a clear therapy plan for how we will spend our time.
Therapy sessions are typically 45-50 minutes long and scheduled once per week, but other arrangements are also possible.
Privacy & Confidentiality
I work as an independent practitioner, and I take a very personal approach to maintaining my practice. I answer my own calls and messages, schedule my own appointments, and handle my own billings. During the normal course of therapy, clients will interact only with me. This approach adds a layer of privacy for my clients, and it also tends to reduce confusion and misunderstandings. Naturally, there are legal and ethical limits to client confidentiality, and we will discuss these thoroughly during the intake process. If you would like to read more about these limits, please feel free to look through my Forms Packet.
While I do handle all client-related communications personally, it is important to realize that e-mail, cellular phone calls, and text messages are not 100% secure or private. These forms of communication are fine for scheduling appointments, but it is best not to reveal too much personal information if it can be avoided. To address this problem, I also use a very secure messaging app called Signal, which is available for smart phones and computers.
The following collection, organized loosely by theme, includes some therapy-relevant books that I have read and recommended to clients. It also includes several titles that my clients have discovered on their own and recommended as particularly interesting. I cannot vouch for the accuracy or relevance of the content below. I can only say that each of these books contains ideas that have proven useful to myself or others.
Julie M. Simon – When Food is Comfort