Introducing Featured Therapist Sarah Epstein, MFT
Sarah Epstein, MFT is a graduate of our Master’s in Family Therapy Program in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University, and a part time staff therapist at Council for Relationships Center City. Learn more about Sarah in our brief interview below.
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy?
The goal of therapy depends on the client, of course, but many come in for one of two reasons: Something is changing or something needs to change.
The something is changing category means coming to therapy to manage stressful transitions (and transitions are almost always stressful, I find). They may be starting a new job, engaged, starting graduate school, retiring, moving, or changing life paths. In those cases, our work is focused on processing that change, learning to manage the stress of the transition, understanding what it means in the context of their life, and smoothly moving into the future.
The other half come in because something needs to change. These clients feel stuck in a life they didn’t think they’d be living. They’ve been struggling with the same feelings and thoughts for months or years. They may be overcoming grief or a past trauma. They may feel like their relationship (family or romantic) has gotten stuck in an unhealthy cycle with seemingly no way out. With these clients, our work combines strategic discussions of the past and what this stuckness means and looks like. It involves working through the things that keep clients and helping them see things in new ways while making different choices.
Change is messy but it’s really the only choice.
What is something your clients would say about you?
My clients would probably say that I combine compassion and empathy with active engagement in the process. I always strive to both support and challenge clients.
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
I didn’t start my career in therapy. I lived abroad and worked in corporate America. But becoming a therapist was always in the back of my mind, but I took the plunge when it became clear that I couldn’t spend my life doing a job that didn’t suit me and I didn’t care about. I haven’t looked back since.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give people who may be struggling emotionally and would like to seek to counsel but may not be ready?
Many people decide that therapy should be a last resort- something they try only if they’ve reached absolute ‘rock bottom’. Others decide that as long as they can point to somebody else who is worse off, they aren’t entitled to therapy. In reality, therapy can be a way to prevent hitting ‘rock bottom’ and there’s always somebody you can point to that seems worse off. That doesn’t mean therapy isn’t for you.
My advice? Give it a go. At worst, it will be a poor fit and you can feel good knowing that you’ve tried one more thing to make your life better.
What does a first session with you usually consist of?
First sessions are a chance for the client to get to know me and for me to get to know the client. It is vitally important that the client feel like it’s a good fit; therapy doesn’t work if the relationship doesn’t work. I’ll ask questions to get to know the client, hear more about what brought them in, and discuss goals. I’ll also answer any questions you may have about the process and my training.
If you’re interested in therapy, you can request an appointment here.