Individual Therapy

Individual Therapy

Within a structured session, it is possible to address barriers and develop a realistic plan for creating desired changes. Individual sessions are weekly. Meeting twice a week can be done during times of a greater need for support. Meeting every other week or monthly sessions are also options when less support is appropriate. At the initial session and ongoing throughout therapy, it is important to determine how understood you feel. On the one hand, it impossible to get help with something without the needed disclosure, however, not everything has to or even can be covered in one initial meeting. The key is to take risks with disclosure, but still be aware of how you are feeling, and gauging what you share accordingly.

Photo of runners at New York marathon
"It's not where you start, it's where you finish"
- Tony Bennett

Assembly Line Approach

Every therapist has a personalized style that they blend with their clinical orientation. I call my style the Assembly line approach. This is my way of mapping out the beginning therapy process of intake – assessment, (all the questions to be asked and answered from the start) the ongoing work (with momentum) in therapy, and the revisiting of these sections (which I think of as stations).

Knowing about these stations and how therapy is often structured, may be helpful. You may decide to print the stations and make some notes.
Here they are:


Station One

Immediate problem and current circumstances - what motivated you to schedule?

Station Two

Assets - Social support, sources of happiness, resources, the specific goals, hopes and dreams that prevent you from giving up.

Station Three

Liabilities - any source of pain, frustration, abuse, barriers/preventions of living life fully. Barriers include relationships, patterns, physical limitations, finance, and addictions.

Station Four

Recent history - this oxymoron sounding phrase expands on station one. This includes what has been going on lately within relationships, physical health, finance, memories, changes in those around you or in your environment, patterns or changes to routines.

Station Five

History - childhood and onward - as much as you feel comfortable discussing.

Station Six

Goals in therapy, goals in life. What would you like to accomplish?

Writing Exercises

Writing exercises are often helpful for expressing emotions and creating clarity.

Below are three writing exercises:

1. Job Description Exercise

Many aspects of your life can feel like a job. Even with your actual job, there is your job description and then there are the responsibilities you have that fall outside of your contract.

List each relationship or commitment as if it were a job. Then, create a job description for each.

2. REBT Worksheet

Ration Emotive Behavior Therapy – is the original form of CBT. This worksheet provides a format for you to map out:
  1. The Activating Event – what was the environment and circumstances in which you experienced a problem
  2. Beliefs – what did you tell yourself, what did you say to yourself about A.
  3. Consequences – what changes took place (both externally and internally)
  4. Dispute – How can we argue against B
  5. Effective New Philosophy – What can you put in point B now

3. Playing the Tape Exercise

Think of the old term of playing the tape where you mentally see something through from start to finish before acting on it or not. Here you watch Gene visualize his day into a relapse of addiction and then his strong resolve to continue abstinence. Think of your own playing the tape moments and write down your own struggle. Your moments can be completely different than Gene’s. Addiction is the perfect metaphor for all types of undesired-harmful behavior. (also see questionnaire and workbook)

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