Therapy with Tracey
1. From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is an opportunity for reflection and growth in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment. Expressing yourself openly to a professional who is trained to hold space for you, your thoughts, and feelings can lead to transformative personal growth and healing. Therapy can help us tap into our innermost thoughts and feelings and how these impact our self-image, attitudes, and our relationships with others. Oftentimes, we will discover patterns of behavior that seem automatic, and talk therapy can help you to identify and alter these thoughts and behavior loops that you’ve found yourself stuck in. That is when true emotional healing can occur.
2. Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
Sessions can look very different depending on the client, as each session is tailored to each person. For clients who have expressed repeated negative thought patterns such as “I am not good enough,” I tend to ask probing, yet gentle questions to help them to see the possible flaws in their logic and gradually take on a different perspective. Through this approach, one client discovered how much a negative self concept interfered with areas of her life including her work, love life, and friendships, and with support was able to gradually chip away at this by proving to herself over time that this simply was not true.
Another client came to me expressing concern that her romantic partners tended to be emotionally unavailable. Through our discussions, we discovered that many of her partners’ traits mirrored her father’s. Through therapy, we were able to explore what attracted her to these partners and the impact her relationship with her father had on her.
I have also had clients express that they wanted to try mindfulness exercises to reduce their anxiety, but expressed difficulty finding the time to do so. In cases like these, I suggested that we incorporate a brief mindfulness practice into our sessions to see if they found it to be beneficial. In guiding them through this practice, we were able to talk about what aspects they found useful or not, and we made a plan for future sessions based on our findings.
3. Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I believe there is a strong connection between the mind and the rest of the body, and while talk therapy can be extremely helpful, sometimes other interventions that incorporate the whole body, like mindfulness, can also be beneficial. Slowing down our breath, for example, will send a signal to slow our heart rate down, which in turn can help us feel less anxious. If you are interested in trying out some of these techniques, we can certainly explore them in session.
I also practice unconditional positive regard, which is a fancy way of saying that I respect your free will, and I believe that you are trying your best given the resources and tools you have now. It means that I accept you now as you are. I believe that this therapeutic relationship can lead you to heal and grow on your own. It is not the therapist’s role to change you. You must do the growing, but I will be there to support you through your transition.
4. How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Everything we talk about in therapy has a reason. I may share feelings that come up for me in session or experiences I have had if it serves a clear purpose and is beneficial for your healing and/or growth. It is natural to be curious about your therapist, and, at the same time, the focus of therapy should be on your needs.
5. How participatory are you during sessions?
Sessions with me are different depending on you and your goals. Generally, though, you will find that sessions with me are dynamic and highly participatory.
6. Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I like to say that therapy is practice for real life. Because of that, I may offer clients suggestions for activities, tools, or tasks as a way to further progress towards their therapeutic goals. The purpose of these suggestions is to build confidence in practicing some of the work that we have done in session. These suggestions are discussed and agreed upon in session and deemed feasible by the client.
I prefer to offer suggestions rather than “assigning homework,” because I have found that clients can experience shame if they did not complete an assignment, which is counterproductive and detrimental to our relationship. It’s important to note that these are suggestions and that this is your personal journey. You have agency in this, and I am not here to judge you if you are unable to complete a task.
7. If I have never been to therapy before, what should I expect? How do I know if I should go, and how do I start?
Therapy is a form of self-care and can be helpful for anyone. Just like how some people work out to strengthen their physical bodies, therapy is a great way to strengthen our emotional selves. Therapy can help us to better understand ourselves and others, improve our relationships, and to emotionally grow and heal through reflection.
If you are wondering if you should go to therapy, the answer is most likely yes. Everyone can benefit from therapy at some point in their lives, and if you are considering it now, then chances are you are at a point in your life when you could use some support. Some people come to therapy because they are experiencing a specific concern like relationship issues, low mood, or are feeling stressed, lonely, or disconnected. Others are going through a transition in their lives or have recently lost a loved one. Some people feel stuck where they are and are looking for a different perspective and tools to change how they are currently operating. And still other people choose to come to therapy to gain more insight into themselves and their behaviors. All are valid reasons for starting therapy.
8. How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
It is a wonderful thing to have friends and loved ones to share intimate details of your life with, and while you may discuss similar topics with them, your relationship with your therapist will be very different.
No matter how supportive your relationships are, there will always be some level of unconscious bias when offering support or advice because they will be impacted by your choices. While your therapist cares about you, there is no emotional stake in whichever path you choose, and so they will be able to offer more unbiased guidance or support to you. They will help you come to your own conclusions.
9. Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
Everyone is different in this sense. When you feel that you have achieved your goals, you may feel like you are ready to leave, in which case I support you in this decision. Depending on your circumstances, I may encourage that we “check-in” on a less regular basis (bi-weekly or monthly) to see how you are progressing. Some people find that while they have achieved their initial goals for therapy, they want to work on other concerns or continue self-exploration. This, of course, is also completely fine.
10. Where did you work before going into private practice?
In graduate school, I worked as a therapist for undergraduate and graduate students in the Counseling and Wellness Center at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Prior to becoming a therapist, I worked in educational nonprofits and college access/success organizations. In addition to providing counseling services and program planning, I also provided crisis management to young adults when needed.
11. Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have completed certificate based courses in Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) and Interpersonal & Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) for Bipolar Disorder. Additionally, I have completed coursework in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness in graduate school.
12. Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have extensive experience in counseling young adults, in particular ages 18-30, in college or graduate school. I have specific experience with individuals who are the first in their family to attend college and the pressures that may come with that. I also have experience working with individuals as they navigate general life transitions, are juggling a work/life/school balance, or dealing with stress and anxiety.
13. What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Empathy and compassion are vitally important to me, and I realized that in much of my adult life I was already counseling others, particularly in my work in education. Anyone who has worked in education already knows that counseling is part of the role, and so working as a therapist felt like a natural progression. Here, I get to do what I loved most about my work in education–working one on one with people to help them realize their potential.
14. What is the best part of the work for you?
I am continually inspired by my clients’ resilience and honored by their willingness to be open and vulnerable with me. The most rewarding part of this work is watching my clients’ personal growth and seeing a positive shift in their perception of self and their capabilities.
15. What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
My approach uses empathy, warmth, compassion, and when appropriate, I bring humor or a lightness to session. I pay attention to my client’s patterns of thought and behavior, and how these impact the rest of my client’s interactions and experiences. I use validation when appropriate and emphasize a client’s strengths and autonomy.
16. How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
Part of my graduate training included paying attention to and critically reflecting on my own background, identity, and positionality, and how this impacts the therapy space. As we begin building rapport, I will ask about your identity and your pronouns, and I encourage you to share with me about all aspects of yourself. I aim to cultivate an environment where you feel safe expressing yourself freely and authentically.
17. How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
You will start noticing your thoughts more and how they are impacting the rest of your life. You may find that you feel calmer or more hopeful, and better able to engage in positive self-talk. With time, your relationship with yourself and others may improve as you become more self-aware and accepting.
18. How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
Your body language and nonverbal cues are key here. If I see you withdraw physically or become less engaged, I will ask you about it. If you are feeling frustrated or stuck, I encourage you to speak with me about it so that we can work together to see what is and is not working and try a new approach.
19. How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
The length of time spent in therapy really depends on what your goals are. In general, I recommend that you commit to meeting weekly for a minimum of 6 months. Within this timeframe, most clients can experience major shifts. To receive the most benefit, I usually recommend a year.
20. How should I prepare for my first session with you?
Before the session, I will ask for you to complete a client intake form with your contact information and general information about you. This is very similar to an intake form you would receive at your doctor’s office. In session, I will typically start off the session by asking two questions: What in your life made you want to set up an appointment? And why now?
21. Do I need to bring anything with me?
22. What forms of payment do you accept?
Credit card or debit card are preferred as payments will be taken using Square.
23. Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
The entrance may be a bit difficult to see, but it is located right between the Potbelly Sandwich Shop and AnTalia Turkish Restaurant. Our sessions will either be on the 7th or the 9th floor depending on scheduling.
“Having worked with Tracey for one year, I was very impressed with her warmth, empathy, and ability to problem solve. She is extremely approachable and has the ability to build solid relationships. Tracey is a caring listener, with a very solid ethical core. Her cross cultural sensitivity enables her to work with all populations. She is a solid team player in the office and is a pleasure to be around.” – Michael Schneider, Director of Counseling and Wellness, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)