What You Can Expect
When You Reach Out:
We will schedule your Curiosity Call, during which we can chat by phone and discuss what you are looking for and whether we are a good fit to work together. I will ask you:
About ongoing issues
Where you are located (I only see clients in Pennsylvania)
A few screening questions
About logistics and scheduling considerations
Before the First Appointment:
I will invite you to sign into Authentic Counseling's HIPAA-compliant client portal. Through the portal, you will complete consent and release forms, including a basic intake questionnaire and demographic information.
Once these forms are submitted, I will reach out to schedule a 1-hour initial intake session.
During the first few sessions:
The first few sessions are a chance for us to get to know each other and to discuss in greater detail the current problem(s) with which you would like support.
We will work together to identify therapeutic goals, including how you will know that we are making progress.
In my work with clients, I integrate and utilize an IFS-Informed approach. I received my initial training with through the IFSCA Stepping Stones course, and then continued my training through the IFS Institute’s Online Circle program.
What is an IFS-Informed approach?
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a relational and evidence-based therapeutic model that views each individual as a system of "parts" or sub-personalities. IFS sees multiplicity as normal, and suggests that becoming aware of, getting to know and understanding our parts is the first step toward healing and getting "unstuck". Richard Schwartz, PhD initially developed this framework in the 1980's, based on his work as a family therapist. As such, IFS is rooted in systems theory, but utilizes the systems approach to understand our internal processes.
Multiplicity can sound strange or even scary to some people at first. Western mental health has pathologized the most extreme (or “split”) expressions of multiplicity, calling it Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder). However, IFS (and extensive brain science) suggests that it is the nature of the mind to be subdivided and, thus, the natural, healthy state of all human beings is multiple. We can often recognize this in our everyday language when we say things like, “A part of me wants to go out for dinner tonight, but another part of me wants to put on comfy clothes and get into bed...” Multiplicity reflects the complex and dynamic nature of human consciousness, and IFS is a very effective modality that can enhance our internal (as well as external) sense of connection, compassion, and confidence.
More on IFS... The IFS perspective believes that everybody has parts and that no parts are “bad.” All parts of us have naturally valuable gifts and resources from which we can draw. However, as we go through life, and experience adversity and trauma, our parts can take on "burdens" and get locked into extreme roles. Therefore, the goal of IFS is not to rid us of any parts, but to release the burdens (wounds) that keep these parts locked in roles that no longer serve us. IFS organizes parts into two categories: Exiled parts and Protector parts. Exiles are usually young parts that carry deep wounds – what IFS calls "burdens". Burdens are often experienced as negative or extreme beliefs and/or as painful emotions such as shame, rejection, etc. A primary goal of IFS is to relieve exiles of their painful burdens, which provides a healing experience and enables an important shift to occur in our system. Protector parts, as their name suggests, work to protect us from perceived harm from the outside world and from being overwhelmed by the intensity of our own exiled parts. Some protectors serve their role in proactive ways (IFS refers to these as “managers”) and some protectors respond in reactive ways (IFS refers these as “firefighters”). The proactive managers are responsible for helping us manage and anticipate day-to-day life and have a “never again” philosophy. Managers are generally focused on trying to keep us in control of ourselves in an effort to avoid the possibility of a repeat painful experience. Some common manager behaviors include criticizing, people-pleasing, obsessive worrying, trying to control, evaluating, caretaking, analyzing, and second-guessing. The reactive firefighters tend to step in when something occurs that causes our exiled parts to enter consciousness, which can feel intensely threatening to our internal system. So, parts of us frantically go on high alert and jump in to put out the (emotional) fires. Some common firefighter behaviors include drug or alcohol use, rage or acts of domination, compulsions, bingeing, stealing or thrill-seeking, self-mutilation, and suicidal ideation. The urgency firefighters have makes them impulsive and unconcerned about the consequences of their behaviors. The “Self” – the part of us that isn’t a part IFS ascertains that the key to mental balance and harmony is to access our seat of consciousness, which IFS calls the Self (capital S). The Self is equivalent to what spiritual traditions refer to as "the soul", and what other frameworks, and therapeutic modalities might synonymously refer to as: one’s Inner Healer, Inner Loving, Wise Adult, or one’s Inner Wisdom or Knowing. IFS suggests that if we can access enough “Self-energy” to work with all other parts of us (exiles and protectors), this leads to transformation toward greater health and well-being.