FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Should I begin therapy?
I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions: Am I unhappy with myself and how I am living my life? Am I struggling with my relationships? Is my family life stressful? Am I feeling overwhelmed by school or work? Am I anxious? Do I feel depressed? Am I concerned about my marriage or children? Am I grappling with health problems? Am I going through a significant transition in my life? Do I have unresolved issues from my past that still upset me? Have I tried to solve my problems on my own but feel stuck? If you answered yes to some of these questions, I encourage you to contact me for an appointment. Therapy may help you resolve problems and make changes.
How will you help?
Perhaps the most important factor in determining if therapy will be helpful to you is whether you have a good relationship with your therapist. It is important that you feel safe, valued and respected during your sessions and that you trust your therapist. It is also necessary that you and your therapist agree on the goals of therapy and the method of working together. I strive to create an open environment where you can safely explore thoughts, feelings and behaviors and work collaboratively to help you make changes. We will explore and identify underlying beliefs and recurring themes that may lead to maladaptive patterns. I may use a variety of techniques and strategies to help you translate your insight and understanding into action and change, learn new coping skills and improve your emotional well-being.
What should I expect the first time I see you?
During our first session, we will ask you to describe your current situation in detail. We will ask about how you are feeling stuck, what is causing your pain and what you hope to change by engaging in therapy. You can expect us to be inquisitive, thoughtful and respectful. We are interactive and will answer your questions. We will review my consent to treatment and privacy forms. Together we will develop a method for working together.
Is therapy confidential?
Your privacy is important to us and confidentiality is paramount for a positive therapeutic relationship. We will not share information about you with anyone without your written consent unless we are required to by law. We must report suspected child or elder abuse, serious threats to oneself and serious threats to others.
What happens in a therapy session?
Lying on a couch is no longer required! Instead, clients come into an office (that’s usually quite comfortable) and talk to the therapist. Sometimes the therapist will have a plan for what to talk about during that session; at other times, the client drives the conversation.
I’ve found it helps clients to have an idea of what will happen in a session, so we have a basic structure. The session starts with the client telling us about what has been happening for them since our last meeting. We check in on any homework that was suggested. We ask the client if there is anything they want to talk about. Normally the client has outlined goals for therapy (what they would like to be different when therapy is finished) and that always provides areas for conversations.
This is your therapy, so again you get to choose!
How long will I be in therapy? Do I have to go forever?
While therapists learn various types of therapies (Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, etc.), therapy is also an art. Every client is different, with different needs for the amount of time they will be seeing a therapist.
Personally I operate from the perspective of ‘this is your therapy’ and you get to choose. If a client is in crisis, then I suggest meeting weekly until things become more stable. Once the crisis is past, we move to bi-weekly or even monthly. It depends on what the client chooses as well as what is in their best interest therapeutically.
Ethically, a therapist shouldn’t want a client to have to come forever. The overall goal is that people feel better and go back to their lives.
Once clients ‘graduate’ from seeing their therapist, many treat their therapist as one more tool in their health toolbox–checking in when necessary.
Should I bring my teenager to therapy?
Adolescence is a time of significant emotional, cognitive, and physical changes and teenagers often need additional support to help with coping and adjustment. Although they may have relied on you when they were younger, teens typically separate from their parents during adolescence as they move toward independence. If your son or daughter is struggling with poor self-esteem, school or social pressures, depression or anxiety, obsessive thinking or attention difficulties, sexual or gender questions, or high risk behavior, we encourage you to contact us for an appointment. We meet with parents and adolescents to evaluate the situation and give a recommendation concerning treatment.
Should I bring my younger child to therapy? What does the child counseling process look like?
Step 1: Call For A Free Consultation
During this phone consultation, a child therapist will discuss with you concerns and struggles that are initiating your call. This is a time to learn a bit about the play therapy process and see if working with Healing Through Play is a good fit. If you would like to begin working with Healing Through Play, the child therapist will set up a time for you to meet for an initial intake. Otherwise, the child therapist will refer you to another agency, child counselor, or professional that may help you with your situation.
Step 2: The Parent Intake
The parent intake session will take place at our offices located at 790 Turnpike Street Suite 304, North Andover, MA. This is a 50 minute meeting with just parents and the child therapist. You will discuss the forms you have filled out ahead of time, a more detailed explanation of the Synergetic Play Therapy™ process, goals for your child's growth, and
have any questions answered. You will also arrange the best time for your parent time during this session.
Step 3: Your Child's First Session
This is the first time your child will meet his play therapist. Your child's session will last for 50 minutes and is often followed by a parent discussion (this will be arranged in the Parent Intake). We have a waiting room for your child to sit during parent time. During this time, it is often helpful if you child has a snack and/or game to play while waiting in the reception area. If your child is not old enough to wait on their own, or needs their own parent time directly following a session, your child therapist will arrange to have parent time either over the phone or in person during a time that is convenient for you.
What type of background and experience do your child therapists have?
All of our Child Counselors are Licensed Psychotherapists in the state of Massachusetts with at least a Master’s Degree in Counseling, Masters of Marriage and Family Counseling, or a Masters of Social Work.
Can I be in the counseling session with my child?
Most children are open and ready to begin their first session on their own. There are toys and a comfortable room to safely work through their struggles. For most children, it is not necessary for a parent to be in the session.
However, if a child is very anxious about being separate from a parent, then it may make sense for you to join the first session or part of the first session. This can provide your child with the knowledge that they are with a trusted adult who is safe to spend time with when you are not around.
Our goal is to support your child through the anxiety and develop enough self-confidence and independence to do their work without the extra support of their parents being in the room.
Will you tell me everything that happens in a session?
Your child's therapist will discuss the themes and key components of your child’s session with you, either directly after the session or over the phone. It's not necessary to name every event that happened during a session for our time to be effective. During this 10-15 minute parent time, your child's counselor will discuss with you what progress is taking place in the playroom, at home and in school. This is also a time for you to discuss ways to support the transformation at home and any questions you may have about the process, specific struggles, and implementation of strategies. The goal is for you to feel supported by the therapist you are working with, so you can collaborate together.
Synergetic Play Therapy™ is a primarily non-directive approach, which gives your child the ability to overcome obstacles at their own pace, preventing re-traumatization or shutting down. This sense of control and leading the session is what a child needs, regardless of age, to feel safe enough to try new skills and make different choices.
With older children, this means they can choose to engage with any toy, game, art project, or conversation that feels meaningful to their personal work. There is something for everyone in the playroom and older children tend to blend play with discussion because they want to make sense of their experiences physically, emotionally, and cognitively, allowing for complete integration.
Do you offer family therapy?
Often, if a single member of a family is struggling, we focus on providing support and specific tools for that person first. Once your child is reaching their goals, feeling more empowered, and capable of making more choices, they may need support translating their new skills into their family environment. This is when we may suggest family therapy.
Family Therapy can be a great opportunity to practice healthy ways of being in relationships both now and in the future (as kids begin to grow up, make friends, date, and work). In a family therapy session, your role is to be present with your child as they practice their new communication and regulation skills with you. You may be asked to play, talk, and move around with your child during sessions.