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Your Therapist – on the Journey as Well

The “therapeutic relationship” refers to the relationship between counselor and client in therapy.  Therapy is a kind of human interaction and relationship that is different than most.  When we engage in therapy, we are engaging in a kind of contract that outlines the roles of the Therapist vs. Client. What is expected of each is entirely different and without the kind of reciprocal expectations one might find in that of a friendship or relationship with a family member.  The therapist provides the trusted ear, the safe and confidential place for change, and the knowledge/perspective gained from years worth of education and experience.  The Therapist is the provider – the one meeting the needs.  The Client, on the other hand, (aside from the fee) is free from the expectation of meeting the needs of the provider. It’s a relationship that includes a framework, and appropriately so, certain boundaries.  Client and Therapist, for example, keep the relationship in the room where the session takes place.  This means that other than the possibility of an email or a phone call/text to sort out scheduling details, interactions don’t take place outside of therapy.  It’s personal, yes – but also professional.

This concept – and unique kind of “relationship” – can feel unnatural or imbalanced to some. You spend an hour in session, pay, and then depart for a week until your next visit. It brings about curiosity and questions about the experience of the Therapist during the process of therapy.  What does my Therapist think about me?  Do I matter to my therapist? Is my progress important to my therapist? Or is it simply a professional fee-for-service interaction? I have one Therapist but my Therapist has several Clients. Am I just another client? Forgotten about until the next time we meet?

Because questions like this are so common, I wrote this to give you (past, current, or future client) a glimpse into the process from my perspective and to answer a few of those common burning questions that are rarely directly asked.

One of the things I value so much about the work I do, is the privilege I’m granted from my Clients to be allowed in.  The privilege to get a glimpse into their lives – to hear their secrets, their struggles, their wishes, and their dreams.  To be allowed in to their lives and into their personal unique personal experiences, fully.  This is something that I take very seriously and something that I aim to engage in fully.  Just as I hope you are able to present to the session fully present, honest, and transparent, I strive to do the same. Below, I outline a few of the things I want you, my Client, to know about how I experience the process and what I do to ensure not only the best possible experience for you, but one that’s personalized and one that fits for you.

1 – I’m clear on the kind of people I want to work with. If when reading my website or a directory listing, you thought that we might be a good fit for working together, it is because I was aiming to speak to you and the issues you’re wanting to resolve.  I don’t claim to be able to work with all individuals or all presenting issues or problems.  I have passions and preferences and try to be clear about what it is that I’m able to help people work on.  I do this because it is important that I not only work within my area of expertise, but because it’s important to me that you find the right fit for therapy.  If we have already talked/emailed and set up an appointment, it’s because what I’m hearing indicates that the fit is probably good for both of us.

2 – I don’t overextend myself.  Balance is important.  In order for me to be fully present for therapy, I can’t be overextended with my workload or schedule. This means If I’ve we’ve arranged to work together, that I’m not taking on more than I am able to do.

3 – I do work between sessions, too.  It’s not uncommon for me to reflect on sessions after you’ve left.  Sometimes I think about things we’ve talked about and things that I want to talk about next time we meet.  I occasionally do research and explore resources that might be helpful for you.  I’ll either bring in what I’ve found or email you between sessions to review before we meet again.

4 – I appreciate the uniqueness of the individual. Because everyone is different and because not all in-the-box approaches are helpful for everyone, it’s important for me to individualize the process.

5 – I look forward to meeting with you.  One of the greatest benefits of having my own Therapy practice is that I get to do the kind of work I want to do with the kinds of people I like working with.  Because of this, I really like what I do.  Sure, it’s my career and a way to “make ends meet”, but it’s also a passion.  This means I look forward to my sessions.

6 – I think it’s awesome when you’ve made progress.  When I start to see you making strides towards your goals, I get excited for you.  I genuinely love to see when the work you have been doing is paying off.  When it’s time for people I have worked with to finish therapy, it’s bittersweet.  I value interactions and time spent in session with clients, but know that in most cases, the goal of therapy is to eventually complete therapy.  So when you reached a point of satisfactory progress, I see that as success! You and your progress matter to me.

7 – I aim for honesty, authenticity, and transparency.  In our interaction, I try to be as authentic and human as possible.  This means that I won’t only tell you what you want to hear. If you have a question, I’ll answer it. I’ll use our interactions as a way of exploring how it impacts other areas of your life. Although therapy is for and about you, not me, I am open to sharing aspects of myself and my life in ways that might help provide some perspective.

8 – I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of your journey. As your therapist, I’ll probably hear about highs and lows, struggles and successes.  It might be the case that you’ll share information with me that other people in your life are not privy to.  I understand and appreciate the trust that goes into being able to share personal details and I do not take that lightly.  When given the opportunity to take part of the journey you’re on, it’s one that I feel fortunate to participate in.

If we have yet to meet and if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to send me a message or to call/text 727-258-5231.

You can also see rates, services, and frequently asked questions.

Office location is in the Carrollwood Area of Tampa on North Dale Mabry Hwy.

Joel Schmidt, MA, LMHC




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