Featured Therapist for October, Daniella Bonhomme
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Daniella Bonhomme, MFT. Learn more about her in the below interview!
What makes you unique as a therapist and as a person? Feel free to share hobbies and interests a client may find relatable.
I come from a big family and am the “baby” of the family, which has been a huge part of my identity and development. Coming from a large family, I’ve learned to balance multiple personalities in a room. I’ve learned to cultivate relationships with each of my siblings, unique to their own perspective personalities. This ability also translates to how others often experience me as easy to talk to. As a therapist, I can utilize the same attention to care and detail in the therapeutic setting by incorporating aspects of my client’s interests and hobbies into the therapeutic space.
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy? How do you help your clients achieve their goals?
I think the goal of therapy is to help clients feel confident in themselves and their self-development. Clients come to therapy with issues they’ve been dealing with for a long time. It can often feel hopeless and frustrating to be in cycles of distress. Whether it’s a couple, an individual, or a family, helping each person at the end of therapy, I seek for my clients to feel that they have some control over their emotions and situations. I like to help them feel confident in their ability to handle any situation outside of therapy.
I help clients achieve this goal by using their interests and hobbies to make therapy and the process of change relatable. I also check in with my clients on their treatment experience and their view on their progress toward their goals. I co-create the therapeutic space and treatment with the client to give them a voice and allow them to lead therapy in a meaningful way. I offer support, encouragement, and warm accountability in their healing journey.
Describe the type of client and issues with which you work best.
I enjoy working with individuals, families, and couples. In part of my work, I work best with issues related to grief & loss, life transitions (i.e., divorce, job transitions, moves, etc.), depression, self-discovery, and anger management. I enjoy working with children and helping them learn to identify, regulate, and communicate their emotions while supporting parents in strengthening their relationships with their children. With couples, I work best with situations related to rebuilding intimacy and connection and enhancing communication.
How would your clients describe you? Feel free to share issues and aspects of therapy where you excel in helping your clients.
Clients often describe me as an active listener, funny, warm, empathetic, encouraging, and honest. In therapy, I enjoy leaning into clients’ experiences by being curious about their emotions. I also enjoy gently challenging clients’ thoughts, experiences, and perceptions to help them identify their own patterns, encourage self-development, and assist them with becoming confident in their ability to change.
I often lean on helping clients understand how their attachment styles influence how they experience themselves and others in everyday life. I challenge ambivalence and feelings of stagnancy by identifying the parts of themselves, their experiences, and the narratives that reinforce these patterns.
Describe a specific tool or exercise that you share with your clients.
A tool that I will often recommend and share with clients is an activity called a truth letter. I provide it as a homework activity. In this activity, you write a letter to yourself, reflecting on a feeling or behavior of yours or another person, and you are honest with yourself about the core root of your feelings and experience. I enjoy using narrative prompts and journaling to encourage self-reflection and acknowledgment, which is used as a tool in the following session to co-create a plan for change.
What advice would you give someone who may be struggling with the decision to start therapy, but may not feel ready?
My advice to someone who may be struggling with the decision to start therapy but may not feel ready is that therapy is an investment in yourself and that you don’t have to settle with the first person you find. You can take your time to search for a therapist that you feel will be a good fit. It’s okay not to feel ready, but when you’re ready, remind yourself that this is something you are doing for you.
Describe a first session with you.
A typical first session with me will often feel like speaking with a distant friend. It will feel like a relaxed environment. I typically ask questions, there will be moments to laugh and moments of vulnerability. Clients often feel nervous and are worried about having an experience in therapy where the therapist will ask, “how does that make you feel?”. I try to alleviate that by letting clients know that this session will feel like a conversation and that they can let me know anything that they do not feel ready to speak about. I remind clients that it’ll feel like getting to know each other, as opposed to a one-sided conversation.
Daniella Bonhomme, MFT, is a Staff Therapist in our University City and Center City offices and also provides online therapy. She is also the Community Partnerships Initiative (CPI) Project H.O.M.E. Onsite Therapist. To set-up an appointment, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 4337