Introducing April’s Featured Therapist, Martha Rinehart
Every month, Council for Relationships highlights one of our Staff Therapists on the Expert Voices blog. This month’s featured therapist is Martha Rinehart, MA, LAC, MFT permit, NCC. Learn more about Martha in the quick introduction below. If you are interested in therapy with Martha, request an appointment today.
Tell us a little about what makes you unique as a therapist and a person.
I have always been interested in transitions and have made them the focus of my practice. My own life experience helps me tremendously in my practice. It provides me a wealth of understanding about life cycles, transitions, and resilience. Life’s crises often occur around transition points in our lives. Transitions were the central theme of my Ph.D., which focused on both personal and organizational Rites of Passage within large corporations. Observing how we and our containing systems respond to change fascinates me.
My hobbies include reading (I’m in 2 book groups), travel, and gardening!
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy? What do you help your clients work towards?
If I had to sum it up, I’d say the goal of therapy is fulfillment. Many folks lose track of who they are or what their purpose is. Others are stuck in a bad place—a bad marriage, a soul crushing job, or just feeling stuck with no clear explanation. Then there are those who are in crisis, usually at a transition point in their lives that makes them fearful, anxious, or depressed. I see therapy as a process of self-discovery, and sometimes a rediscovery, of what motivates a person to make a purposeful change and improve their lives.
Who is your ideal client? What concerns are you most experienced with?
My ideal client is someone who is ready to put in the work. It doesn’t matter if they even know why they are seeking therapy; if they are ready to talk about their life and explore their inner voice, I’m happy to help them on that journey. It also helps a lot if they are able to be fully present during our time together in session.
Describe a useful tool or exercise that you like to share with your clients.
I always do a Genogram with my clients. A Genogram is a glorified family tree that lists all family members, and other important people in the client’s life. It covers at least three generations and may include all sorts of added information: family relational ties (close, cut-off, in love, etc.), religion, culture, country of birth, sexuality, dates of birth, death dates, dates of marriage and divorce, history of substance abuse, and more. I use it both to gain an understanding of the family system and relational affiliations, but also to get the stories (the very personal, idiosyncratic take on one’s life) that inevitably come out of the information gathering exercise.
Other than Genograms, I don’t really use tools or exercises; I prefer talk therapy. However, I often suggest that people spend time outdoors in nature, try to get exercise, and/or go to yoga to develop meditation and breathing techniques. All of these things loosely fall under the heading of “mindfulness.”
Why did you decide to become a therapist? What drew you to counseling as a career?
As the youngest of four, it was in my nature to watch the interactions of my family members to learn how to best understand them and, in retrospect, help them. No one in my family was surprised by my choice to become a therapist.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give people who may be struggling emotionally and would like to seek counseling but don’t feel ready?
I’d say come talk to me and see what you think; take a chance that it might just help. If it’s not for you, no big deal! I usually tell prospective clients to come to the first session prepared to ask me questions, so they can judge if we are a good fit. It also has the added benefit of demystifying both the environment and the experience.
What does a first session with you usually consist of?
First off, I ask my new clients if they have any questions for me. Then I talk a little about my approach to therapy (Structural Therapy with Bowen’s Multigenerational Therapy) and I explain Genograms like I mentioned earlier. I tell them that it our sessions are really their time to talk about whatever they want, and that I will try to reflect back what I see and help them to clarify their situation. But, more often than not, new clients come in ready to get something off their chest. So the first session begins with the clients talking about what brought them to therapy and how they hope I might help them.