As the office manager at Harmony Therapy Group, one of the privileges I have is making that first point of contact with new clients. Often a prospective client unfamiliar with what the therapeutic process entails will call me with several questions about what counseling looks like, how the therapeutic alliance is established, and what they can expect when they walk through our doors. My answer? IT DEPENDS!! Why? Every therapist has a unique and individualized theoretical orientation which guides their approach with clients. A theoretical orientation can be conceptualized as the paradigm from which a clinician operates. More often than not a clinician’s theoretical approach closely aligns with his or her view of human nature as well as the lens through which he or she sees challenges to one’s way of being in the world.
Meredith Riddick is an integrative therapist who adopts a multifaceted approach to treatment. By drawing from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, attachment theory, Interpersonal Therapy, Existentialism, and Rogerian Therapy, Meredith’s approach bridges the gap between the paradigms of behaviorism and humanism and focuses on people as goal oriented, change driven, and inherently good. Meredith’s approach not only fits well with individuals facing challenges around eating disorders and trauma, but also engenders a great deal of insight in clients with a goal of personal growth. Lauren Henderson’s approach to counseling primarily focuses on disputing and thereby changing thoughts and behaviors which don’t serve us well, giving rise to healthier emotions. By incorporating various aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Lauren is able to tailor her approach to the individual client’s needs. This attention to each and every client serves Lauren well when working with clients experiencing challenges around food and body image.
Julie Wilkes is a family systems therapist. This theoretical orientation theorizes each individual as part of a greater system, and each individual therein is impacted by other individuals in the system. Clinicians who ascribe to this school of thought often see challenges as arising because of family of origin issues earlier in life. Julie’s clinical interests include substance use disorders and mood disorders. Courtney Orsak specializes in bereavement, and her background includes working with not only adults experiencing grief but also with families coping with the outcomes of traumatic events and loss. Like Meredith, Diana Cabrera-Stewart utilizes an integrative approach with clients, drawing upon empirically valid and evidence based modalities within the security of a therapeutic alliance. Diana’s clinical interests include post-partum concerns.
So, you might be wondering what the essential ingredients to a safe and successful therapeutic alliance are?? In other words, what must clinicians do to establish trust within the relationship with a client?? I call this the Holy Grail of Counseling. Carl Rogers listed three core conditions when he discussed what makes a relationship between therapist and client successful: congruence, nonjudgment, and empathy. Rogers espoused authenticity as one of the most important qualities a clinician can possess—the whole notion that we must get real and be real. When we create environments in which there is no room for judgment, we promote and foster feelings of safety and security. Finally, the ability of the clinician to put him- or herself in the client’s shoes is absolutely imperative, for empathy is the cornerstone of a fruitful alliance.
You may now be wondering what the potential risks and benefits are to entering counseling. Because counseling may involve discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience some uncomfortable feelings. Some of the gains you can expect are increased self-esteem and better functioning in different facets of your life, including optimized psychological and social functioning. Usually with greater self-awareness and boosted levels of confidence, individuals tend to reflect upon and reevaluate different aspects of their lives. Sometimes this introspection can yield a sort of reassessment of relationships, and you may find that relationships which once served you are actually, in the cold light of day, toxic and unhealthy. That being said, counseling often can lead to better relationships, decreased feelings of stress, and the resolution of certain challenges and concerns.
Here at Harmony Therapy Group, our clients are our top priority. We are honored you have chosen us to walk with you on your journey of recovery and personal growth. It is every clinician’s privilege to build a relationship with each client. Each of our clients has unique challenges and concerns, and each of our therapists has a distinct approach when working with clients. If you are thinking about seeking counseling services and one of the above therapists seems like a good fit, contact us here.
***Photo courtesy of Jacalyn Beales via Unsplash.