A note from Dr. Lisa Terrell about her specialty practice
I have noticed over the years that my clients comment about how different our work in session is to what they expected. Especially if you experienced therapy before, the first few sessions where you are introduced to the structure of our work and the new skills that will help you—may be surprising!
I am strongly “Process” oriented. This means that I believe that to help people I need to help them see patterns and create new patterns. Our personal patterns show up when we talk, when we argue, when we are doing normal life, in crisis and when we tell our story. Another way to put this is that my therapy is not just “talk therapy”. Sharing your story and your experience and emotions is an important part of therapy. Please know that I will guide you to share your story in a specific way by asking some important questions to get me the information I need to begin to help you right away. These questions come from the stories of many couples and individuals, and therefore you get the benefit of those who have come before you. You may wish you could talk more at the beginning, but I promise that if you hang in there, you will feel thoroughly heard.
Here are a few ideas from Process therapy:
• Process therapy doesn’t necessarily need a detailed history to be effective. The therapist is listening carefully for patterns and your viewpoint about those patterns.
• An issue that affects the couple, will resolve much more quickly and completely if addressed in Couple’s therapy. Although one partner’s issues may be harming the Couple, both partners “work” in therapy.
• An individual’s issues will tend to be resolved much sooner if they are worked on in conjunction with Couple’s therapy.
• If you were harmed or betrayed by your partner, you— as a partner will have hard work to do too. It is likely at some point to seem harder for you than your partner and the work very unfair to you (as in “I didn’t choose or ask for this").
• The Process oriented couple’s therapist is always advocating for the partnership—getting the partnership functioning and healthy. Don’t worry about being right or justified or winning the therapist over. Experience gives a Process therapist a laser focus to pick up the imbalance in patterns and function. Both partners’ must function for the partnership to work. You will feel the difference when you are functioning—no need to worry that things are unfair— defensiveness, anger, and volatility go away with emotional function.
• Interpersonal Function is the most valuable commodity in Process therapy. Function means that you feel you have a “say so”— that your thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and desires matter and you articulate your “say so” clearly.
• Sex Therapy (“process” oriented) is largely about learning to be profoundly (intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically) intimate with your partner.
• Therapy for highly distressed couple’s in crisis will tend to feel like slow motion.
I insist on my couple’s learning to function together before we try to fix or decide anything. I attribute this “boot camp” approach in emotional function as largely the reason I am successful with critically distressed clients. I hope this gives a glimpse into my therapy sessions.
The work is life changing and transformative. It will help you get the relationship you want.
Courage to you as you begin!
Dr. Lisa Terrell