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  • Writer's pictureLola

What happens in therapy?

Welcome to my office! The artwork is by Leslie Barlow from the series, Within, Between, and Beyond.

So what is therapy like? I'll give you the therapist answer: It depends! But I can give you a general framework.

Before the first session, clients fill out intake paperwork on my secure client portal - forms that are needed to initiate services as well as to provide mental health, social, and medical history. This paperwork informs the first session, a diagnostic assessment, where I ask follow up questions about the paperwork to get an idea of diagnosis. Insurance companies require a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for services. In the field, we also use diagnosis to conceptualize groups of symptoms so we know how to best treat the problems clients are presenting with.

Sometime during the first and/or second session, we work together to identify what you specifically want to work on in therapy, how we will accomplish that, and what things will look like when you're done. This is called treatment planning.

I don't have any way I would describe a "typical" session, it varies depending on the client's needs. Therapists have different styles. I do a lot more listening than talking, and I am not typically a directive person (I will not be telling you what to do). My strength is in holding space for people to do their work. This means letting you fully articulate your experience, with me asking clarifying questions, and providing feedback to help you develop insight into the issues you came to work on.

I do not provide formal homework between sessions, though we may discuss things you want to think more about or specific coping strategies you may want to practice.

Generally clients come in with an idea of what they want to talk about during their session. If they're not sure, I'll refer back to the treatment plan and ask questions about life, work, and relationships until we find something that is fruitful.

It's entirely subjective how long clients stay in therapy. Some come for just a couple of sessions, if it's not a good fit they move on. Other clients come to work on something specific and stay for a few months. Many of my clients are long term doing trauma work so it's not uncommon for me to have clients for years. Ending therapy is a mutual decision, not something I decide for you.

I do not prescribe medications. I do not have specific referral connections for medication therapies. I generally refer people to work with their primary doctor for initial evaluation and possible referral to a specialist. And given my work history at Lyn-Lake Psychotherapy and Wellness, I often refer to them as they have good prescribing nurse practitioners on staff.

If you're interested in therapy with me and you are a resident of the state of Minnesota (licensed therapists may only see therapists in states in which they are licensed), please fill out my contact form. I provide a free brief consultation via Zoom to assess for fit.

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