FAQ About Our Work
An Integrative Approach to Therapy
What is integrative psychotherapy?
Using an integrative approach means that we blend diverse methods in the way that we work in order to help you feel more integrated and whole as a person. We use holistic and body-mind interventions and collaborate with you to provide therapy that best fits your needs.
Why is the mind-body connection important in therapy?
The brain and the body communicate through the nervous system. They are connected in much the same way as two people running a three-legged race. The connection is always there, but the cooperation can vary greatly.
Imagine one person pulling the attached leg forward while their partner is trying to stand on it to move the other leg. This often ends up with both sprawled on the ground!
This can happen between the brain and the body too. If you’ve ever tried to override your body’s signals by thinking your way out of them, this is what’s happening.
For example, maybe you are really tired and your body just wants to go to sleep, but your brain says you must finish that project before tomorrow! Or maybe you “know” you should yell less at your kids, but the shouting comes out of your mouth before you can stop it.
Your brain and your body always affect one another. When you talk about something stressful, this causes a response in your body, and when you think about something pleasant, this is reflected in your body relaxing, feeling calmer on the inside, or shifting positions.
If we leave out the body in therapy, we are leaving out an important part of you.
When the brain and body work together, things work more smoothly and you feel more harmony in your life. By learning to pay attention to what your body has to say and discovering how your brain and body are either in sync or at odds, you can work on ways to foster more cohesiveness and cultivate peace within yourself.
How do you use mindfulness in therapy?
People often ask if we teach mindfulness practices in our work. And yes, we do. We value mindfulness and meditation practices highly and see that they help people in many ways.
But most of the time in therapy, we use mindfulness as a part of how we actually approach the session.
We focus on helping you make changes that go deeper than problem-solving a particular situation or developing insight. We want to help you to be aware of what feeds the cycles that you get stuck in or the habits that you resort to that get in your way.
So, when we are exploring issues with you, we are often going to ask you to stay focused on your experience in the present moment at it unfolds and to be curious about it rather than just tell us about it.
We may ask you to pay attention to what you’re thinking or notice your emotional state or sense what’s happening in your body. By focusing on the present moment, we get more information about your experience, learn what’s going on underneath the words, and help you make change right at the source.
How do you use movement in therapy?
This might be our most frequently asked question, and it’s also one of the more challenging ones because the answer varies so widely!
Movement is a fundamental part of the human experience. It is how we experience the world and how we express who we are; it shapes our sense of ourselves and it is how we interact with others. Movement is a part of ritual and celebration and community.
Using a mind-body approach, we are always curious about what is happening on a body-level in therapy. Because humans are literally moving all the time, we are always including movement in our approach.
We might begin simply by working on helping you to notice what your body has to say to you and how it can benefit you to listen to it.
Sometimes we might use gestures or small movement while sitting down to explore what that feels like in your body or how it affects the issues you are working on. Examples include working on letting go of tension in the jaw, practicing a relaxation technique, putting out a hand and saying no to make a boundary, or noticing what happens when you sit differently or look around the room.
Movement can be something that we use to explore something symbolically, like walking away from something. It might be used to practice embodying a change, such as reaching out more for help or turning toward a new path. There are times when movement becomes an abstract expression or a way to play with creativity.
We might use movement to celebrate a change. For example, after you realize that all that tension in your shoulders comes from a feeling that you aren’t supposed to speak up for yourself or take up space, and you get to explore what it’s like to relax that tension and stand taller, you might have a natural impulse to want to shake off the old feeling, move more fluidly, and move through space with a new sense of yourself.
Different clients have varying interests and backgrounds in relation to movement. Clients may have a yoga or dance background, or love to hike or paddle board. We honor and value your unique experience and comfort level with movement and encourage you to bring whatever movement background you have to working with us if that feels right.
How do you use creative arts in therapy?
Using the arts in therapy opens up new possibilities for expression and self-discovery. Similar to the ways that we incorporate movement, the options vary widely, and most definitely take into account your interest and comfort with the approaches we use. Using art in therapy is not about being an artist or about working on art skills.
Creating art might help you to become aware of elements of your experience that you have a hard time understanding or expressing. It might helps you cultivate mindfulness or help you tap into your own imagination or creativity.
Some of the ways we use art don’t even involve you making art, such as when we use printed images to help you identify a feeling or represent different parts of your experience.
We might encourage you to experiment with different types of art materials and see what you like or what helps to enhance your process of healing and growth.
Some clients do a lot of art in therapy and some do none at all.
You talk about using insights from neuroscience. What does this mean?
Right off the bat we will let you know that we are true neuro nerds. We love learning about neurobiology and the ways it connects to human relationships and experience.
The nervous system is the link between the brain and the body and understanding how the human system works as a whole provides an invaluable perspective in therapy.
For example, understanding how the fear and pleasure centers of the brain can dominate our experience or how trauma disrupts a person’s ability to accurately perceive threat are incredibly important in forming useful therapy interventions.
One of the most compelling aspects of neuroscience is the growing understanding of how our nervous systems are shaped through interpersonal experience and how this is critical to wellbeing even before birth and throughout our lives.
In therapy, we use neuroscience insights to help us understand your experience, to form a strong working relationship with you, and to inform the therapy choices we make in working with you.
Do you use talk therapy?
We sure do! We see talking as a very important part of the therapy process, even when we use other approaches.
Some of our clients mostly sit in chairs and talk with us. We do want you to know though that whenever we are talking with you, we are also using a holistic framework that takes into account the interactions between your mind, emotions and body.
About Individual Therapy
Do you offer phone or video sessions? Can they still be creative?
YES! During the COVID19 pandemic all of our sessions are currently offered by video or phone sessions. We are keeping our work innovative, using creative and mind-body approaches.
What are therapy sessions like?
Since we integrate a variety of approaches in our work, there are many ways sessions can play out.
It is very common for us to begin sitting in two chairs talking. Some people like to sit on the floor or big yoga balls, and for some people it’s helpful to begin with a moment of mindfulness or movement to get settled, focused, or shake off the day.
We spend a little time checking in about how you are and what’s going on to help us decide what to work on during the session. Then we begin to dig in with more focus. Some sessions may involve a lot of talking and others more body-centered or creative exploration.
We work on trying to discover something new in every session that is helpful in transforming your life. This may be a very tiny new insight, developing a coping resource, or discovering a different possibility for change.
We work on stringing together the work of each session so that over time the pieces of the puzzle evolve to make a truly new picture.
At the end of sessions, we talk about what you want to take home with you and practice how to put it into real life.
What happens in the first session?
We do a lot of the up front paperwork through your client portal online so that when you arrive for your first session, we can focus on getting to know one another and beginning to dig right into helping you. We do a little bit of paperwork, and then we get to look at why you came to therapy and what you want to get out of it. We begin to support your vision for how you can heal, change and grow.
Do I have to come with an agenda?
You can if you like, and many people do, and this can be very helpful, particularly if are aware of things between sessions that you really want to bring into therapy.
But you certainly don’t have to. In fact, sometimes it’s better to just show up and see where things go.
We are looking for the stories underneath the words and the ones that keep showing up as themes in your life, so you really don’t need to worry about forgetting to work on important things – they will keep letting you know they’re there.
If we can be curious together about your experience and start from where you are when you arrive, we will discover plenty of important material to work with.
Can we just sit and talk?
Absolutey. You can make a cup of tea in the waiting room, curl up in a blanket or lay down on your back and let go of the weight of the world. When you are here, our offices are your space.
And our services are for you. If you just want to sit and talk, then we can just sit and talk. And if you want to use other more active methods, we are happy to guide you through them in ways that feel right for you.
But you should know that for us, there really is no such thing as just sitting and talking because all the time, as humans, we have thoughts, emotions, and physical experiences that are connected and part of the greater whole. Working with all parts of you is a foundational principle of our work, even when we are “just sitting and talking.”
Is therapy ever fun?
We are happy to tell you that yes, it is. Of course it certainly isn’t all the time and there are many other words that describe it: challenging, interesting, very very hard, supportive, confusing, meaningful, surprising….
But it really can be fun and light-hearted, full of humor and warmth and play. These qualities help to balance the difficult parts of the work. They also come from the joys and successes of making positive change.
How long do I need to be in therapy to see results?
Five minutes or a lifetime. Which is to say that there are many benefits that you can begin to experience right away even when therapy is brand-new and that it can also take time to integrate therapy and make larger shifts in your life.
Therapy results depend on so many factors – the reasons you are coming to therapy, how long you have been dealing with a particular issue or problem, what kinds of resources and supports you already have, and how much you put into it.
If you think of therapy like gardening, the process includes planting seeds, giving them what they need to flourish and tending to them once they have grown.
Our goal is to help you take something useful away from every session and cultivate your own change and growth over time.
How long you stay in therapy is up to you. We collaborate with you to assess your goals, your progress and what feels right for you throughout your experience in working with us. Most clients we work with participate in long-term therapy, which can mean many months to a number of years.
How do you figure out which therapist I’m going to work with?
We start with a complimentary phone consultation that is usually with our director, Annabelle Coote. When you have that call, one of the things you’ll talk about is which therapist you might work with. This is based on availability and a good therapeutic fit.
How do I get started?
The first step is a complimentary 30 minute phone consultation that gives us a chance to talk about what you’re looking for and how we might help. We’d love to talk with you to see if we’re a good fit.
Services for Therapy Professionals
I’m a therapist. How can I expect you to approach therapy that takes that into account?
Therapists have unique needs when it comes to receiving therapy. It can be very important for you to know that you are working with someone who is seasoned and can work very collaboratively, who takes into account your own knowledge and experience and helps you feel totally good about being in the other chair. We place high value on therapists doing their own personal work.
Do you offer therapy for therapists via phone or video conference?
Yes. We make phone or video sessions available to therapists who reside in MA or VT. First we’d talk with you to make sure this felt like a good fit for your needs.
What other services do you offer for therapy professionals?
At Fire Within we offer creative professional development services including supervision, consultation and training for therapists who want to lean into sustainable self-care, creative clinical approaches, and the support needed to do good work that is also energizing and fulfilling.
I Want to Know More
I have more questions. How can I get answers?
Great! We are happy to answer your questions. Please call 413.644.0171, use the message form below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.