The Best Ways to Use Your Therapy Session

The Best Ways to Use Your Therapy Session

Psychotherapy is more of an art than a science. There are many different modalities or methods of doing therapy and equally as diverse a set of theories about “what works best” in the therapy process. Despite all of those variables, there are proven ways to get the most out of your therapy experience. But what are the best ways to use your therapy session?

… And why do we even need a list like this? Well, because therapy is an investment of your time, money, and other resources. And if you’ve ever had a less-than-amazing therapy experience, you know the disappointment that goes along with a failed investment.

“Meh” therapy

Getting yourself into therapy is a huge decision and one that has the power to change your entire life. And I’m not overestimating things here. It’s true.

But, does every experience of therapy yield that type of transformational result? Well, no.

Some experiences of psychotherapy are mediocre. From clients who have come to see me over the years after having worked with other therapists, I’ve heard many reports of their previous therapies. Some of them have sounded like this:

  • “The therapist was nice, but, they didn’t say much at all. I got tired of hearing myself talk.”
  • “I want to be challenged. I want someone who will engage with me
  • “The therapist kept asking me how things made me feel, but that was the extent of it. I don’t feel that I made any real progress with self-understanding or insight. I’m still where I was before I started.”

So how do you optimize your time in therapy to gain the greatest return on your investment?

How do you use your time in therapy wisely to ensure that you are, indeed, getting what you want out of it?

Here are some of the best ways to use your therapy session:

Collaborate with your therapist

Let your therapist explore, with you, whatever you are bringing in to talk about. That’s why you’re paying them. They’re knowledgeable and want to help you get your mental health and wellness needs met. If you notice that, during your sessions, you’re aimlessly rambling or monopolizing the conversation, name that “noticing” with your therapist so that you can look at that pattern and any function it may be serving for you together. You know, collaboratively.

Be intentional with your therapy sessions

Come into your sessions with some sense of what you want to address. It could be that you have a goal in mind for that day such as “I want to figure out how to respond when X happens” or “I need to talk about X thing that happened today.” You don’t have to have the specific outcome in mind, but it’s often helpful to have some sense of your own needs. (As a sidebar: knowing what you need is a huge step toward healing.)

Bring in your triggers

Especially as a Schema Therapist, I am particularly interested in what your triggers are and where they “go off” when you’re moving through the world. Starting a session by letting your therapist know where you got triggered over the previous week gives you the rest of your therapy hour to explore it. Hurray!

Elicit feedback from your therapist

When you start therapy you might have a few specific goals that you want to focus on. Over time, those goals will hopefully be met. If you are choosing to enter into a longer-term therapeutic relationship, you feel like a certain “piece of work” has reached completion, or you feel satisfied with where things are, but you don’t want to stop therapy. When that is the case, talk to your therapist about areas that they’ve noticed could be worth exploring.

Release your goal-focused agenda completely once in a while

Ok, I’m going to backtrack a little bit here. While I firmly believe that all of the above suggestions are great ways to improve your experiences in therapy, I’ve also noticed that sometimes, it’s good to come into sessions without any of it. Research has shown repeatedly that the most powerful factor in therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist. Sometimes, when clients come into the room with absolutely no agenda, we end up getting to explore our relationship, which, as a microcosm of how you generally “do” relationships, can be super therapeutic. It can also strengthen the bond and the sense of trust you have with your therapist. In my case, I also love incorporating experiential exercises into sessions like that. Things like relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation.

Take A Pause

Lastly, if you’re finding that your sessions feel aimless, or you’ve got an overall feeling of a lack of progress or momentum, it might be time to do something different.

One final option to consider, especially if you aren’t even sure why you’re going to therapy anymore or what you’re working on, is to pause the therapy.

Taking time away from personal work can allow you to live life on your own, using self-reliance and taking an opportunity to flex your skills. The good news about therapy is that you can always return when you’re ready.

Do you have any other tips about the best ways to use your therapy session to share? Please let me know in the comments! And feel free to share!

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Seeking A Therapist’s Therapist?

Seeking A Therapist’s Therapist?

Are you a clinician that wants to do some of your own work?

Are you seeking a therapist’s therapist?

Awesome! First, let me say, kudos to you, for doing your own work.

As a profession, psychotherapy is one of the most meaningful and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. It allows us to be in a position of privilege with the humans we serve. We work to co-create spaces safe enough for clients (or patients) to tell us the stories of their lives, express the unexpressed, and open themselves to our feedback. Being a therapist is truly a position of honor.

Sometimes, those same clients can bring up some of our own psychic material. Insecurity, grief, longing, and unresolved trauma may manifest as a result of working with others. Dealing with countertransference and struggling to make headway with challenging clients can be hard on even the best clinicians. Working with all of this material is crucial for several reasons.

As part of our training, clearing out our own cache of residual “stuff” is a key to feeling present for the people we serve. If you are responding to clients out of your own woundedness, you are not doing them a service. Additionally, if you are going to sustain this career as a counselor and prevent burnout, you’ve got to be sure that you’re taking good care of yourself.


A Therapist’s Therapist

Therapist self-care is real, and a bit of a minefield in a career where we’re often underpaid and overworked, and where the issue of personal and professional boundaries can get muddy.

I have been in private practice for over ten years here in Asheville and I have worked with many fellow clinicians over that time. I have an eclectic toolkit that includes certifications in Buddhist Psychology, Traumatic Stress, and Schema Therapy (the other parts-work model). My degree is in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Holistic Studies and I am an attachment geek and lover of Jungian work, including using dreams and symbols to explore your inner world.

I aim to use a skillful blend of gentle support and care while also challenging you in places where you might be stuck.

If you’d like to work together to get some help, gain clarity, or elicit feedback on new ways to work with challenging clients, drop me a line. I’d love to support you.

Looking for your own therapy?

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Therapy for People-Pleasers

Therapy for People-Pleasers

I specialize in therapy for people pleasers. Do you fit into that category? Consider the following questions: 


  • Do you tend to sacrifice what you want or need in the service of accommodating other people?
  • Do you identify as a people-pleaser?
  • Are you caught in the caregiver archetype?
  • Are you reliant on external validation to affirm your goodness or worth?
  • Do you ever experience anger or resentment toward the people closest to you, as a result of feeling like they’re always taking and never giving?


The Problem with People Pleasing


When you chronically compromise what you want you run the risk of betraying the most important person in your life: you.

Over time, that betrayal leads to a loss of self-trust and, in many cases, depression.

So many of us are people-pleasers because we’ve been conditioned to do so. We learned how to do it from our mothers or our culture, as a way to stay safe and connected.

But this way of relating to others has dire consequences.

Learning to differentiate yourself from other people is one of the most important avenues of personal growth. The health of all of your relationships depends on it.


Therapy for People Pleasers


Doing this work of individuation, which includes exploring your Whole Self, is one of my favorite things. If you’re on this journey of personal growth, going it alone is incredibly challenging. I’m an expert and I’d love to support you.

If you’re ready to abandon the people-pleaser in you and reclaim your self-trust, inner power and deep knowing, drop me an email. I’d love to connect.


Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Healthy Communication in Asheville

Healthy Communication in Asheville

Folx, we have an issue. It’s a problem we all have, collectively. We, being the masses of us who avoid confrontation, who fear upsetting someone else, who feel it’s our duty to be easy-going enough that no one ever has a reason to dislike or be upset with us. The problem is our aversion to assertiveness. Where is the healthy communication in Asheville?

To be clear, “we” don’t actually all have this problem. Particularly for people who tend to self-aggrandize or feel entitled to have their voices heard (sometimes constantly), this is hardly an issue. But are those the people we really want to hear from (all of the time)? No. Unfortunately, though, we hear from the entitled folx a whole lot.

But the people who tend to be more self-sacrificial or empathic to the feelings and needs of those around them tend to be much, much quieter. Yet, those are the ones we need to hear from. From people like you.

Last summer I read the book Playing Big by Tara Mohr, which I highly recommend for women everywhere. In that book, she illustrates the problem of playing small, and how to overcome it.

But this issue of not speaking up is not only a woman’s issue. Admittedly though, we have the vast majority of anti-asserters.

In my psychotherapy practice, I see people of all genders struggling with the issue of speaking up, asking for what they want, and saying how they feel. Healthy communication in Asheville can be remarkably hard to come by. Keeping quiet and “keeping the peace.” But at what cost? The costs of this phenomenon are huge. Here are a few:

  • authenticity
  • emotional intimacy
  • physical health
  • mental health
  • getting what you want from your relationships

It can be so hard to speak up in your relationships when you’ve been disappointed in the past, by the people you went to, to be vulnerable and express yourself with. If you’ve been ridiculed, humiliated, gaslit, abandoned. yelled at, or belittled. I see you. It’s especially hard for you. I know, I get it.

But the reality is that science now proves that the relationships we have are the most powerful indicators of happiness in life. They inform not only our emotional well-being but also our physical health. Check out this new book The Good Life, It’s based on the longest scientific study ever done on happiness. Know what they found about what humans need to be happy? Good relationships. Can we create good relationships without being honest about what we feel or what we want? Doubt it.

The good news is that it’s not too late and you’re not too old. You can always try again.

I am here to support you to find your voice, clarifying your needs, and discerning what relationships truly nourish your soul.

Let’s figure it out together. We can take as much time as you need.

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
I Want A Therapist to Call Me on My Shit… Will You?

I Want A Therapist to Call Me on My Shit… Will You?

“It’s for you!”


Over the last ten years in my private practice, I occasionally hear this request from new clients.


“I want a therapist to call me on my shit…”


“Are you the kind of therapist who will call me on my shit?”


“Yes, I am,” is the short answer. But how I do that may not be exactly what you have in mind. The longer answer includes a few variables that I’ve learned really matter in this endeavor, such as:


  • how long we’ve been working together
  • how strong our therapeutic alliance is
  • whether or not you are in a crisis or you’re in a more stable place in your life


As someone who has a semi-objective (I mean, who can really be fully objective, in these human bodies with all of these accumulated experiences, anyway?) point of view, I may be able to sense some of the patterns you’re perpetuating or some of the defenses you’re displaying more easily than you can. As your therapist, it’s my job to take note of these and to reflect them to you in a way that is empathic and understanding. It’s also my aim to provide you with some alternatives.


What Does Calling You on Your Shit Look Like?


For different people, the answer may look very different. If being “called out” is important to you, are you specifically looking for one or more of the following from me?


  • Tough questions
  • Specific coping skills
  • Help with identifying the problems (the pattern of thoughts or behaviors)
  • Highlighting inconsistencies in your values and actions or reflecting “bad” choices
  • Challenging the excuses or justification you typically use
  • Help developing a plan of action


The Issue of Accountability


Sometimes, when we rely on others to keep us accountable there may be some challenges with our own responsibility-taking. Strengthening this personal challenge to step up to the plate and take accountability on your own is a perfectly worthwhile therapeutic goal.


Developing your own sense of insight, or an understanding of how or why you’ve chosen (often unconsciously) the actions or patterns in your life is an important aspect of any therapy.


I am here to support and guide you in this process, and until you are able to do that work on your own, yes, that may look like me, calling you out, on your shit. 

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!
Therapy for Depression in North Carolin

Therapy for Depression in North Carolin

Seeking out therapy for depression in North Carolina can be challenging, but finding the right therapeutic fit can be a transformative experience.  

I provide support to many people suffering from low-grade, chronic depression. When it comes to the individual factors that contribute to depression, however, people can find themselves at a loss for how it originated with them. Let’s look deeper at the roots of depression. 

Where does depression come from? 


Depression is an incredibly challenging state of being. It drains your energy, takes pleasure out of everything you do, and convinces you that there is no point in anything.

While it sometimes seems that depression arises out of nowhere and slowly takes over our psyches, the true roots of depression can come from a number of places. Let’s look at these three common sources:

  • Unresolved Trauma
  • A harsh, demanding or punitive Inner Critic
  • Unexpressed anger that has been turned inward on the Self.

Unresolved Trauma

I recently listened to an Attachment Theory in Action podcast in which Howard Steele Ph.D. provided some phenomenal definitions for trauma. He says:


Trauma is an experience that occurs when there is a gap between the demands of a situation and the resources available to handle that situation.


Traumatization is when children are overwhelmed with information or experiences they cannot understand. When this occurs, their self development suffers and they are traumatized.


Steele goes on to talk about how the most vulnerable years of life are the first 18 years. That children are really the most vulnerable population in need of advocacy and protection.


When we, as children, have experiences that are overwhelming and incapable of being fully understood, processed, and integrated, we are susceptible to traumatization. When this happens repeatedly, we are left alone to make sense of our experiences and, due to false attribution, we tend to misassign ourselves the blame. This alone can cause depression.

Trauma can be healed. It takes time to unpack and explore the many layers we’ve built over it, but it may be the most important thing you ever do.

A harsh, demanding, or punitive Inner Critic

How you talk to yourself is everything.

Do you realize that you talk to yourself? Because we all do it, all day long and even (or, rather, especially) in the wee hours of the night. There are many people for whom that idea is foreign, but once we start to get quiet and bring our attention inward we can hear the stirrings of a voice that is always there, just below the surface.

This is why mindfulness is such a powerful practice. Because it gives us a structure and a way to gently “drop in” on our own self-talk and be curious about it.

Once we’re there what we sometimes find is a relentless authority figure whose mission is to keep us in line, prevent us from making a fool out of ourselves, or keep us small and unnoticeable. That voice is generally negative, demeaning, or cruel.

Hearing how you speak to yourself is sometimes a shock, and often a revelation. If you had an actual nay-sayer following you around 24/7, it’d make sense that you generally felt down.

Since this part of you never leaves (and often exists beyond your conscious mind) it can be incredibly challenging to change what is causing your pain. The good news is that Inner Critics are capable of being tamed and transformed from masters to servants with clear intentions, guidance, and practice. Getting the right therapy for depression is possible.

Unexpressed anger that has been turned inward on the Self

We all get angry. It is part of our evolutionary design. When we feel that an injustice has occurred, or that we have been violated in some way, our adrenaline starts pumping to mobile us so we can take action. We are supposed to take action.

However, for those of us who have been conditioned to not take action, for example, those of us with a Subjugation or Self-Sacrifice schema, we do not express our anger. We pretend that everything is fine, and our anger gets swallowed down deep inside of us. It lives there, inside our bodies, and festers. It often changes form from anger into resentment and sometimes, it becomes depression.

The good news here is that it is never too late to express what has been unexpressed. The rage from the injustices you saw or experienced as a child, or at any point in your life is still there. Expressing it can be an important part of your healing journey. As you release the pent-up energy and make space for something new, you may find that there is a world of sadness, grief, or creativity that awaits.


If you are seeking therapy for depression in North Carolina, reach out to me today if you’d like to get support.

Sharing is Generous. Thank You!