First Psychotherapy Appointment with Joanna Poppink
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Your emotional waves are rolling in, but what is the shore you seek? If your life looks good, great or enviable to others, who can you trust with your vulnerabilities and secrets?
You don’t want to take medication. You don’t want to be told what to do. You certainly don’t want to isolate, or use food, drugs or alcohol to soothe yourself. Yet, you know you need help and hope that help exists.
Suppose your inner waves reach the shore of my practice. What happens?
After a phone call or an e-mail with me we set up a free telephone consultation. If that seems promising, you come to my office for a person to person appointment.
You park in my driveway. You walk to my garden where you wait on a cushy couch with a view of grass, honeysuckle and, if you’re lucky, hummingbirds.
In the Room
At our scheduled time I invite you into my consulting room. You sit on the couch. I sit in a chair. We have a coffee table between us. Two clocks, on either side of the room allow us both to share responsibility for the time. You fill out a few forms that take about five minutes to complete.
This experience so far gives you a chance to breathe and fill in the unknowns you had about being here. You know what the place looks like and more importantly, how you feel in this place. You see what I look like and how you feel in my presence. You also are alert to how you experience my responses to you.
Whatever fantasies and fears you had fade with the reality of being in the room with me.
Now the paperwork is done. We sit face to face. Perhaps you don’t know where to begin. Many people don’t. They know what they want to address, but that seems too personal or too wild or strange or too something to talk about with a stranger. Still, that is part of the reason you came.
I might say, “You can start anywhere. You can talk about what happened this morning or last week or in your childhood. You can talk about a dream, a book you are reading, a situation with family or friends or work. You can start anywhere. Eventually what is important for us to look at will emerge.”
That’s when people relax a bit more with me while at the same time feel relief that no rules exist about how to be right or wrong in therapy.
You’re hopeful, anxious, testing, have doubts about how being here could help you, yet, perhaps feel that what you haven’t been able to say to anyone else, maybe even yourself, could roll out here.
Part of psychotherapy is for me to tolerate your tension, anxiety and your sense of the unknown along with you so your inner world calms enough for your own solutions to emerge.
Another part of psychotherapy is for me to be alert to what emerges in you. I can help you identify what might be pulling you back to old frustrating ground and what might hold positive direction for you now.
What Brought You Here?
People who want to explore their lives and live beyond the limits they are feeling seek out psychotherapy. Another way of saying this is that they seek out understanding and clarity so they can sort through what is causing pain and suffering in their lives. Bumping into limits, otherwise known as feeling stuck in a pattern you want to change, is what pushes people to call me.
Perhaps it was my picture, or an article I wrote, or my book that seemed inviting and hopeful to you. Or perhaps someone you respect told you about me. Often, it’s not even a topic that invites a person to my practice, but a sense, a feeling that here is a chance to be understood and move into new psychological territory.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Once you are here and we discover invisible and visible aspects of each other you may feel this is a place where you can be appreciated and respected as you explore your inner world and your life.
My goal is for you is to find support as you discover inner guidance that comes in light but surprising ways. In this way, working together, you move past your existing limits and into the better life you feel in your bones is possible for you.
From the waves to the shore is the beginning. What follows is our journey together.
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Los Angeles psychotherapist in private practice for adults
author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder