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Meet the Therapist
Esther Dale MA, LPC, RPT-S is a self proclaimed psychology nerd. As such, she has spent her educational and professional career continuously developing her clinical skills, in order to offer a wide range of services to her clients. She proudly works with children, youth, and adults. As well, fully believing that everyone deserves the benefits of therapy, she has also specialized in working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
Therapy. It's all about you.
And that's okay.
1) Relationships: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. For most people, relationships are the main thing, and if they’re going sour, life goes sour. Therapists are expert relaters, skilled at treating all varieties of relational problems. Marriage, parenting, siblings, bosses, friendships, frienemies, we’ve got you covered.
This is one area where therapy has Big Pharma beat hands down, by the way. Sure, meds can help you think or feel better, but they can’t teach you who or how to be in relationships, how to deal with conflict, or how to forgive. Medication treats the symptoms, therapy treats the problem.
2) No Relationships: Despite the ease of connection through social media and apps that make coupling appear as simple as buying a couch on Craigslist, many believe we are lonelier than ever. Why is this?
Much of the time technology enhances our intimate relationships, helping us connect more frequently on a variety of levels, but for some technology is a substitute for intimacy. Therapy is a weekly 50-minute face-to-face intimacy workout. Regardless of the subject matter that brought you into therapy, this regular practice can’t help but boost your ability to connect with another.
3) Work: Studies show that 70% of Americans are unhappy with their job. If 70% of the nation is dissatisfied with a primary part of their identity where they spend ¼ to ½ of their time, is there any question why we have a few depressed, anxious, and addicted people floating around?
At some point, every therapist helps people explore their career choice, alter their approach to their work or co-workers, and either accept or change their circumstances. For example, I’ve seen some clients realize that they don’t really hate their work, they just like to commiserate with their co-workers. For them, work no longer feels like a burden as they accept that they bond through talking with others.
4) No Work: An all-too-common problem in the past few years, unfortunately, I’ve seen far too many people in my practice who lost a job and can’t find another. They suddenly find themselves at a self-esteem low point as they embark on a demoralizing and crazy-making job search process.
While therapists aren’t headhunters and our fees present a drain on a dwindling severance package, many people find therapy very helpful at this time. The non-judgmental support is welcomed, as well as the place to vent without repercussion. Many people also find that this “between jobs” time is a good time to evaluate many areas from career path to self-care to the very meaning of life. Most therapists live for these kind of talks.
5) Poor Physical Health: The connection between emotional health and physical well being made the leap from myth to fact long ago. The most obvious is when we are confronted with experiences and feelings, make choices based on those feelings (e.g. comfort food, drugs/alcohol, inactivity, etc.) and our physical health is impacted. People with serious medical conditions now include psychological treatments along with their physical, pharmaceutical, and nutritional interventions. Overall health requires balance, and the psyche is key to that balance.
6) Mediocre Physical/Mental/Social Health: Many people are reasonably healthy but have dreams of living long healthy lives that near the century mark. Others aspire to peak performance in their chosen field but find themselves wallowing in mediocrity despite opportunities for advancement. Therapy is not just for treating disorders, it’s also available to help good lives become great through removing unnecessary blockage, expanding limiting beliefs, and encouraging healthy risks.
7) Overwhelming Emotions: Trauma, sensitivity, loss, fear, and anger can feel incredibly huge at times. So huge it seems unmanageable. Therapy can help you make sense of the emotion, contain it, and point you to the deeper issues that are stirring up such a reaction. People can make some regrettable choices and say some hurtful things when overtaken by emotion.
8) No Emotions: There are many people who suffer from the inability to access and express emotion. They know they should feel sad, happy, angry, or scared, but they can’t. Other people in their life often say they’d like to connect with them, but the lack of emotion makes it difficult to relate. I’ve grown to understand that the inability to access emotion can be the most debilitating force in a person’s life. Emotion causes people to hold a grudge for years, suffer for months to avoid a 10 minute conversation, or fail to be truly present at meaningful moments. Therapy can help people work past the blockage and access that important component of life. But be warned, it's not always a fun journey. Those emotions may be blocked for a reason.
9) For Your Loved Ones: If you are an altruist, focused on the good you can do for those around you, maybe you can start with yourself. Would improving your communication, your boundaries, your sense of responsibility, your empathy, and your capacity for intimacy impact those around you? Sure it would. You may even lead by example, helping others become curious about themselves and taking the leap into their own therapy. You are the common denominator in all your relationships, and improving yourself is bound to enhance the lives of everyone you meet as well.
10) For Yourself: I hate to have to trot out an overplayed quote, but I feel I have no choice: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What are you doing with your life? Is it the best life you could live, or are you hindered by old injuries, relationships, roles, or habits that weigh you down? We only get so many trips around the sun, isn’t it time you followed through on your 2006 resolution and tried out some therapy this year? Pick a good one, follow some tips, let yourself fully engage. It could be one of the best decisions of your life.
Courtesy of Ryan Howes, Ph.D
To Give Therapy a Try
How's it going?
It's a simple question you hear everyday.
Though in therapy, this question becomes so much more.
You are free to answer, absolutely 100% however you like.
No judgements. No expectations. No hidden motives.
No right or wrong answer.
As a therapist, I start out each session with this one question,
and so I would like to ask you...
"How is it going for you?"
Tips for Getting the Most out of Therapy
Take the Whole Hour: We call it a therapy hour but it's only 50 minutes. Get your money's worth by arriving 10 minutes early to catch your breath, collect your thoughts and prepare for your session.
Forget the Clock: Show up early, but let the therapist be in charge of ending the session on time. You've got enough to think about during the session, the therapist can be responsible for wrapping up.
Make it Part of Your Life: Therapy works best when you take what you've learned and apply it to the rest of your week. Between sessions, notice areas in your life you'd like to explore. Maybe you'd find it helpful to engage in...
Journalysis: Use a journal to reflect on your sessions and jot down things you notice about yourself during the week. It doesn't have to be the "Dear Diary" of your youth, just a place to record a few thoughts or feelings. It may help to bring it to session with you.
Business First: Take care of payment, scheduling and insurance questions at the start of the session. Nothing's more awkward than ending a session with a big revelation or emotional breakthrough followed by three minutes of check writing and calendar navigation. Get all those logistical issues out of the way at the beginning.
Relationship Next: Following those business items, issues regarding the relationship with your therapist (if there are any) come next. This could be anything - you're thinking about termination, you felt angry after the last session, you're worried what she thinks of you, you had a dream about him, etc. These relationship issues take top priority because they will impact all other areas of your therapy.
What do I Want? How do I Feel? These two questions are home base for clients who feel stuck. If you find yourself lost and don't know what to talk about, revisit these questions and you're bound to find material to discuss.
Ask Anything: Clients sometimes censor their questions because they believe asking is against the rules. You're allowed to ask whatever you want, let the therapist explain their boundaries. Want to know a personal detail, professional opinion or an explanation for something she said or did? Go ahead and ask. You might not get a straight answer, but you should get a reason why not, and you might learn something about yourself in the process.
State of the Union: Check on your status any time during your therapy. How are the two of you working together? How well do you understand each other? Is therapy helping or hurting at this point? This is ideally a two-way discussion, with both of you sharing your thoughts.
Try New Things: Therapy is a great place for thinkers to try feeling, listeners to practice talking, passive people to be assertive, etc. Want to rehearse confrontation? Practice asking someone out? Let yourself cry in front of someone? Therapy is a great place for this.
Learn to Fish: A lot of people want advice from their therapist. Therapy is more about helping you come to your own conclusions than having the therapist make decisions for you. This benefits you in the long run but may seem disappointing at the time.
Challenge Jargon: Some therapists have been doing this work so long they assume everyone knows what they're talking about. If the therapist says some gibberish you don't understand ("this boundary violation exacerbates your abandonment issues and fixated Oedipal complex"), ask him what he means.
Say the Odd Thought: Therapy is one place where strange thoughts are acceptable. In fact, the odder the better. Have a sudden impulse? Say it. Flash to a certain memory? Talk about it. The phrase some things are better left unsaid doesn't apply here so speak freely and you might learn something interesting.
Be Aware of Your Therapist: Not just who she is, but who you imagine her to be. And how you imagine she feels about you. Talk about your relationship to see how your projections influence this and other relationships.
Go Deeper: If you find yourself running through mundane details of your week or hitting awkward silences, maybe there's a deeper issue you're avoiding. Ask what it is you're not talking about and talk about it. Discuss what you're discovering about yourself. Take the time to explore who you are, what you feel and why you do what you do. Push beyond it is what it is or whatever and tackle some deeper questions. Try: "I wonder why I ___" or: "Deep down, I really feel ___".
Allow Change: Some people ask for change but feel uncomfortable when it actually happens. Accept that if you're seeking change, things will probably change, and it might require more change than you thought. An eating disorder, a sexual problem, interpersonal conflicts, an addiction - these may require a major life overhaul, not just a little tweak.
Engage and Enjoy: Therapy is like enrolling in a course where you are the subject matter. If you're curious, teachable and motivated to do some work, it can be one of the most challenging and rewarding courses you ever take.
Being a Parent is never easy...
Child Therapy isn't about judging you.
It's about another caring adult,
being in your child's corner.
So bring the Child, but leave the Guilt.
5 Signs Your Child Might Need Therapy
1) Sudden Changes in Behavior and/or Emotion: If your kid is usually very outgoing, and suddenly becomes withdrawn or distant, if your child is normally very calm though has taken to bursts of anger and rage, this is usually a good indication that something more is going on in their world, and may need addressing in therapy. Maybe it is nothing more than normal childhood fluctuations in mood and behavior, or maybe it is something more serious. Early intervention has proven to be most important in addressing mental health concerns, especially in children. So erring on the side of caution when it comes to addressing the unique mental health needs of children and adolescents is vitally important.
2) You Find Yourself Saying, "My Child Used To Be...": "My child used to be so happy," is a phrase I have heard from parents countless times when explaining past and present functioning. If you find yourself as a parent worried about how your child used to be, in comparison to how they are now, it might be time to seek treatment. Maybe it's just a sign of their personality evolving, or maybe it is a symptom of something else.
3) Major Life Events: Just because your kid might appear to be okay after a major life stressor (i.e. divorce, death of a loved one, illness/injury), does not necessarily mean that they are okay. Many children don't have the emotional, physical, mental development in order to adequately express to adults that something is wrong in their mini-universe. It does not hurt to have your child checked out by a mental health professional after these big life transitions. After all, major life events send countless adults into therapy. Why should a child be any different?
4) "That Sounds Like My Child": Either through swapping stories with other parents, or maybe after watching a tv show or news story, parents often have an "Ah-Ha!" moment. They realize that their child seems very much like this other troubled child, for X, Y, or Z reason. It can often lead to parents second guessing or denying the comparison they just made out of fear, "Oh no, that kid I just heard about, read about, or just saw, isn't anything like my child." You intuition made that connection for a reason. Try not to dismiss those moments.
5) Your Parental Instinct Is Telling You Something Is Wrong With Your Child: You can't quite put your finger on it, though something just "feels off" about your child. Many parents will report that something felt off with their child, sometimes months, and even years, before they sought therapy for their child. Those parental instincts are not to be ignored, though should be honored and respected. In therapy, your gut instinct will be honored and respected by me.
Why Play Therapy?
Play is the language of your child. Adults most often use words to express themselves. Children use play, toys, symbols, and metaphors. It is the means of self expression they are most comfortable with, and as such, becomes the preferred counseling method to help children with their problems.
Will 'Just Playing' Really Help My Child?
Yes! Whether you realize it or not, your child is continually working through their feelings and concerns through play. So the act of playing is in itself healing. But to play in the presence of someone who is totally attentive to their stories--who witnesses their pain and concerns and sometimes verbally reflects their feelings and fears--is especially healing.
What will my child do in the play room?
The play room is carefully stocked with toys such as: a doll house, puppets, stuffed animals, markers and crayons, fidgets, and a sand tray with miniatures where your child can create a reflection of their own inner world.
Sometimes a non-directive play therapy approach is used where the child chooses all play materials and the therapist reflects the feelings and themes present in their play. At other times, a more direct approach is taken where the therapist chooses games, activities, and projects that she believes will be helpful. Often a combination of these two models is used.
Will I know what goes on in the play room?
That depends. Generally speaking, the younger the child, the more you may know. Children 7 or 8 years are generally less concerned about confidentiality and are even eager for their parents to know about their sessions. Usually however, only general themes and comments are shared with parents unless the child's permission is granted to share specific information. There is much in their world that children cannot control. The play room is a safe place where they can be in charge.
The therapist will always notify you if there are any concerns regarding the safety of the child: whether it be self harm or concerns over potential risk of suicide, safety concerns at home or school, or concerns over the child acting out towards others in a harmful manner.
Will I ever be involved in play sessions?
Generally, the therapist will meet with the parent or parents for an initial intake interview. During this session, the child's family, developmental, birth, educational, and health histories are gathered; parents are asked to express their concerns about and for the child; the child's strengths are assessed and a tentative therapy plan is developed. Occasionally, parents or siblings are invited to be involved in a play session. Sometimes the therapist will meet with the parents alone to provide education about child development, parenting skills, or individual therapy.
Should I ask my child about the play sessions?
Although this can be very difficult, it is strongly advised that you resist the urge to ask kids about their play sessions. Children have very few places of privacy. Furthermore, questioning can push the child to analyze a primarily spontaneous process. Some children also feel pressured to give the answer they think you want to hear. You might want to greet your child after session with "It's nice to see you," or "Let's go home and eat--I'm hungry!"
Will my child have to clean up the play room?
That depends. Therapists make decisions about this issue based on what they feel will be the most therapeutic for a child after each session. Sometimes children do not want their sand tray creations or other play enactments taken apart before their eyes. At other times, the therapist may feel that a child needs to clean up their toys as a way of bracketing their intense feelings as they prepare to re-enter the ordinary world.
When will I know my child is done with therapy?
In the best of all worlds, parent, therapist, and even the child will agree that it is time to stop coming. Depending on the presenting problem, parents will see several things such as improved self-esteem, elevated mood, decreased anger and sadness, better school performance, age-appropriate behavior, and better social skills. The therapist will see similar signs as well as healthier themes in the child's play. It is most important that you discuss with the therapist any urge to terminate treatment. This allows the therapist to give input about the child's progress and plan for appropriate closure to the relationship.
Courtesy of Betsy Craft, LCSW, RPT-S
If you are someone with Autism, or you are the loved one of someone with autism, you are aware of some of the common treatment lingo: Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis.
Most health care professionals will agree that traditional psychotherapy can help the family to cope with the special needs of their loved one. Though outside of strict behavioral therapy interventions such as ABA, children/adults with special needs often don't find a place to explore their emotional needs we all have. Every individual deserves the chance to learn and grow, within the healing relationship of therapist and client.
I have spent a decade of my professional development expanding my therapeutic skills outside of simply traditional talk therapy. Play Therapy and Sandplay therapy are recognized nationally and internationally as a treatment approach for both children and adults. As a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, both children and adults with disabilities are able to benefit from therapy.
Along side my training as a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, I received certification in Aut-Play Therapy.
AutPlay® Therapy, created by Dr. Robert Jason Grant, is geared towards with children and families affected by Autism, ADHD, dysregulation issues, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. It is a collaborative model based on play therapy and behavioral therapy along with relationship development, in order to assist children and adolescents in gaining necessary skills and abilities for their mental health.
AutPlay Therapy has Shown Effective Treatment Outcomes for the Following Areas:
Increasing Emotional Regulation Ability
Improving Social Skills and Functioning
Improving Relationship Development and Connection
Reducing Anxiety Levels
Improving Sensory Processing Challenges
Increasing Concentration, Focus, and Attention
Reducing Unwanted Behaviors
Improving the Parent/Child Relationship
Everyone has their own unique life story. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, it has been my honor over the past decade to not only be a witness to countless life stories, though to also be granted the opportunity to positively impact lives. This honor I am entrusted with in my role as a counselor, to assist in molding a life more authentic to the specific desires and needs of my client, is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
My approach to counseling will always revolve around you, the client. Each person’s journey through life is different. As such, I have felt a personal and professional obligation to have a vast array of therapeutic frameworks in order to provide you with the best customized services. In addition to my person-centered background that reflects the vital importance of a collaborative, trusting, compassionate, and respectful relationship between counselor and client, I utilize additional approaches when deemed therapeutically beneficial to treatment.
Some of my approaches include:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which embraces the importance of both insight and change in the healing process. I have been trained by the founder of DBTNCAA, Dr. Lane Peterson, in order to effectively implement DBT into my clinical practice.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) which utilizes specific techniques to aide in unhealthy, debilitating “stuck” memories to become “unstuck” and reprocessed within a more adaptive healthy framework. I have received Level 1 and Level 2 training through the EMDR Institute, which qualifies me to utilize EMDR as needed with clients I deem EMDR would be beneficial to treatment.
Play Therapy provides a therapeutic environment that does not rely solely on verbal communication to impact positive change in the lives of children and adults. I have received the highest level of credentialing in the play therapy field. As a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, I have mastered hundreds of hours of training and thousands of hours of hands on experience, within the Play Therapy field.
Sandplay Therapy is a reflective-based modality regarding underlying thoughts and feelings that reside outside a client’s immediate conscious awareness, which is utilized by therapists nationally and internationally with children and adults alike. I received a two-week intensive training, from Dr. Barbara Turner, who was an original pupil of Dora Kalif, the recognized founder of Sandplay Therapy. This training, in conjunction with my Play Therapy training, allows me the necessary expertise and qualifications to implement Sandplay Therapy in an effective manner.
Mindfulness is a therapeutic framework that allows the individual to focus on the day to day moments of stress and relaxation, in a non-judgemental, self-reflective framework. As well as being trained in Mindfulness in my professional development in EMDR, DBT, and Play Therapy, I also attended a semester long Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the University of Massachusetts.
So if you are seeking services for a child, or you feel you are a child at heart though your adult life is weighing you down, or you are wishing to rediscover the child within, I would love to play a part in your life story. Or if you would simply like to sit down and talk with a counselor, I am here for that too.
On a personal front, my life just like countless others, has been impacted by a loved one’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum. I have a deep love and respect for the Autism community, and as such, I do my part in providing counseling services to children and adults with Autism.
My Approach to Therapy
The Benefits of Traditional Talk-Therapy,
For Non-Traditional Individuals...
I firmly believe, that no matter what an individual's disability, anyone can benefit from the caring relationship that exists in therapy.
No language required.
5 Reasons Online Therapy Might be the Right Fit For You
1) The Weather: Let's face it, between snow storms and rain fall, sometimes Mother Nature makes travel difficult. Why not come into the office when the weather is good, and stay in the comfort of your own home when weather is bad? With my online therapy services, you can.
2) Scheduling: Schedules can change all the time. Whether it is work, home, or family, that you are constantly juggling, it is sometimes difficult to plan ahead. With online therapy, non-traditional hours and scheduling options become more feasible.
3) Illness: Maybe you or a loved one has fallen ill, and it is not as easy as it once was to travel. There is no need to stop therapy if you have already began, or there is no reason not to start therapy if you hadn't been able to do so before!
4) Children: Let's face it, children are wonderful, though working around their needs, can keep parents from meeting some of their own needs. So even if you can't find a babysitter, or it's difficult for you be out of the home, or away from work more than you already are, you can still get the treatment you deserve.
5) Convenience: Sometimes you can't leave the office. Sometimes you don't want to leave home. Maybe you would like a mixture of face to face therapy as well as online. Maybe you travel a lot for work. Things that once would have made consistent, beneficial therapy near impossible, are no longer road blocks.
Molding future generations of therapists.
I provide a laid back, caring, educational approach to supervision. If you are a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan, I have undergone the necessary additional hours of training in order to be recognized by the State of Michigan as a supervisor. Proof of training hours can be provided upon request. Also, as a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, I am also able to provide the necessary supervision hours for individuals pursuing the RPT credential.
As a supervisor, I strive to be the combination of several mentors that helped mold me into who I am today. Here are some of the advantages of working with me:
Perspective and Experience: I can give you the benefit of learning from my own personal journies of blood, sweat, and tears.
Think Outside the Box: I can help you look at situations in new ways and can ask the hard questions to help you solve problems.
Define and Reach Long-Term Goals: I can help you define your career path and ensure that you don’t lose focus and continue down the road even when you become distracted or discouraged by day to day pressures.
Trusted Colleague to Discuss Issues: I can be a great sounding board for all issues – whether you are having difficulty with your immediate supervisor, an ethical dilemma, or need advice on how to tackle a new project.
Champion and Ally: I can be a strong champion of your positive attributes and an ally during any bumpy spots in your career.
Expand your contacts and network: I can help expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances.