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“Well, here we are. You on the couch, me in the chair (or rather the virtual couch and chair as a telehealth therapist) with an hour to help you find support and healing. Here’s what I’m thinking during our session.”
As a therapist, I am constantly amazed by the human mind and its ability to heal. I have had the privilege of sitting with people during some of their darkest moments and emerging stronger with them.
I am often in awe of the courage it takes to do this work; to be vulnerable enough to show up week after week and continue to walk through the fire to find the fresh air on the other side.
This guide is for anyone who has ever wondered what their therapist is really thinking during sessions. It is not an all-inclusive list, but rather a snapshot into one clinician’s mind. So let’s begin…
In each moment of our session, I am working hard to figure out connections between your life experiences, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors based on what you are sharing with me
Trying to find the connections between pieces of your life experiences feels a bit like attempting to fit together a giant puzzle without any guiding picture. You are the expert of your own life and experience, so I am here to follow where your brain organically leads us and to find the associations of your neural pathways through various moments in your lifetime, so that we can try to make sense of this giant puzzle together.
In our journey together, my goal is to remain gentle and empathetic, yet insightful and challenging at the most effective moments to help you create feelings of safety and clarity around past trauma and the impact of those experiences on you today. Above all else, I deeply care about my clients and want them to feel better, succeed in creating their lives worth living, and heal from past trauma.
Sometimes, I lose my train of thought or get distracted by my own life.
It’s an all-too-familiar situation– my train of thought derails and my mind gets preoccupied with my own life. As someone who is navigating my own complex trauma, this is a reality of helping others heal and supporting my own healing in the process.
Using my own self-soothing tools and grounding myself into the moment can be so useful. Being mindful means that I am connecting to my own experience in the present moment and am able to show up in a meaningful way for my client to support them, even when my focus might shift elsewhere. Growing my awareness of my own needs and being engaged in my own personal journey of healing from past complex trauma, has helped me to grow in my professional career and support many clients on a similar path.
I all too often use my lived experience of the effects of complex trauma to help others recognize their experiences and create effective coping tools. Professionally, my self disclosure is intentional – to not bring the focus or attention of the session to myself rather than my client – although you may hear me refer to a “friend” or “other clients that I have worked with” as an ode to my own lived experience.
I am not judging you, I promise
We can all relate to moments when we’ve felt judged, especially in moments of vulnerability. I am not here to judge you in your life experiences or for your ineffective behaviors that have helped you to survive.
Clients often fear telling me their story due to not wanting to burden or harm me in some way. I care deeply about you and your experience and feel honored that you are willing to share your pain and most vulnerable experiences with me on this journey.
Instead of judging you, my goal is to provide empathy and compassion in this situation. Although we may have different perspectives and life experiences, my role is to help support you in creating safety in your life and relationships and process past life experiences to better understand how they effect you today.
I want to help you on your healing journey
It’s not always easy to reach out and ask for help, or to make yourself vulnerable enough to let someone in and accept their support. But when I tell you that I want to help you in any way possible, I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
From a young age, I remember having a deep desire to support and help others. I find so much joy in my work as a trauma therapist and often look forward to my sessions with clients. I form long-term relationships with clients due to working with many people that have history of abandonment and trauma in relationships and have many years of life experience to process in their healing journeys. Due to these experiences, it makes sense that people often need to build long term relationships with a therapist before they feel comfortable sharing their deep inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
I’m here to listen without judgement and with a caring, open heart. My goal is to truly understand your situation, so I can give you the most helpful clinical interventions and support for your healing – after all, helping others is one of the best gifts we can offer.
I am so glad you came to see me and want to improve your life
Your decision to make a change in your life and seek trauma therapy is hugely courageous and admirable. I’m so proud of you for taking this step and pushing forward instead of staying stuck. It’s going to be really tough, and I can promise that with the right help and your willingness to change, your life will be totally transformed — better than ever before. Together, we’ll work through the trauma together and help you figure out how to cope with it in healthy ways and create an emotional and physical sense of safety in your life.