“All clients deserve an understanding of the problems that are being addressed, the approach the therapist is using to address those problems, and a systematic way to understand if they are making progress towards their goals.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
From the age of 9 I had a natural desire to help people in my community. Over 20 years ago, I began working at a residential treatment facility, and became aware of the limitations of helping people. One of the major challenges I saw was that the treatment staff very often did not have a therapeutic approach that was conducive to a feeling of safety or confidence in their care. These limitations caused further challenges for these individuals to achieve their highest potential. To address these challenges, I began developing a model that I believed would create not only a cohesive and consistent approach to healing, but would also track whether or not these clients were making progress. Over the years, I’ve realized that all people in a helping field are in need of a model to provide care in a way that is self-aware, in alignment with the clients values, while also systematically tracking progress. Our model is called C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I work with the C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes model to equip organizations and my clients with a therapeutic approach that is conducive to a feeling of safety and confidence. This model tracks their progress as they work through different areas of their life, including their personal goals, relational goals, and professional goals. In addition to in-person sessions, I am able to offer video sessions to my clients using a secure online therapy service. This allows my clients to have the flexibility to travel or have sessions from the comfort of their own homes.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
The biggest barrier to care is that people do not know when they are making progress. They often do not know the therapist’s plan for treatment, which leaves them feeling that the therapeutic process is a mystery and they feel in the dark about how long their treatment will last. All clients deserve an understanding of the problems that are being addressed, the approach the therapist is using to address those problems, and a systematic way to understand if they are making progress towards their goals.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Ego States by John and Helen Watkins has influenced my approach to therapy and the way I conceptualize personality and pathology. Ego states are the parts of our personalities that cause us to act different ways in different situations. Understanding the parts to oneself is a holistic, non-pathologizing way to understand problems that come up in our relationships with ourselves and others. This book guided my understanding about how to make effective, long-lasting changes in personality over a short period of time while still using a psychoanalytic framework.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
Both my thesis and dissertation examined the decision making process of staff members in residential treatment facilities. What I found is that these staff members would consider several sources of information when making decisions about how to intervene with clients in the moment. However, they would most often rely on their personal experience rather than clinical expertise or training. I found that the most effective source of information when making decisions regarding intervening with clients came from information that the client shared about their own personal history. Therefore, my work is always guided by an in-depth examination of my own biases and judgements, and how to avoid clouding my understanding of the client in front of me and the clinical expertise that is necessary to help them.
“My work is always guided by an in-depth examination of my own biases and judgements, and how to avoid clouding my understanding of the client in front of me and the clinical expertise that is necessary to help them.”
Allyson practices at Alma