How I Define Therapy

A view of my office.
A view of my office.

How I define therapy: Effective therapy is a collaboration between the therapist and client working together to identify what is preventing the client from progressing toward his/her goals. The intent of therapy is to alleviate or heal emotional pain caused by habitual thinking patterns, distorted beliefs, environmental and/or relationship stressors as well as biological factors such as illness, a lack of movement, poor diet or insufficient sleep. Every person’s situation and story is unique. I consider it a privilege to assist individuals in their personal explorations.

Therapy is not magic. It is hard work—some of the most difficult, bravest work you can do. Therapy may not eliminate your stressors, but it can give you strength and skill to manage them. Like treatments for physical problems, therapy can sometimes hurt before it feels better. But I have faith in human resiliency. I have witnessed courage, tenacity, creativity and growth from clients in my office.

I did not always plan to be a therapist. My path here was circuitous, yet rewarding. As a military spouse for twenty-two years I recognized that the families of active duty soldiers could benefit from nonjudgmental therapeutic support for dealing with the unique stressors of military life. Some challenges we faced as a military family were cultural adjustments to overseas duty assignments, frequent moves, and long separations due to deployments. My spouse and I saw many relationships fail and families torn apart that could have been saved with better support for the soldier’s family. This is where my interest in therapy first began. I enjoyed being a military wife and wanted to pay-it-forward to military families in the future. Our travels eventually led us back to West Virginia where there is no active-duty military base. So I looked for different ways to serve and pay-it-forward.

I believe there comes a time in most our lives when we could use a helping hand, an empathic heart. My mother’s death was that time for me. I hit an emotional wall. Her death brought up a cauldron of emotions that was overwhelming. Therapy helped me through it. My therapist had skills and tools to make the experience of my mother’s death more manageable. He assisted me in finding new perspectives that eased my pain. Most important, he did not judge me for my thoughts and emotions. He simply walked with me as I reviewed the narrative of my life and helped to make healthy adjustments. This experience helped me know for certain that I wanted to be a therapist. It has been a remarkable and rewarding journey every day since. I look forward to walking with you in turn.