January’s Featured Therapist Sara Samuels
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists on the blog. This month’s Featured Therapist Sara Samuels, MFT joined our staff in the fall of 2018. Get to know more about Sara in the interview below!
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?
Hi, I’m Sara Samuels and I am a staff therapist at the Center City office for Council For Relationships. I was an intern at Council For Relationships for two years during my graduate school training at Thomas Jefferson University for my Master’s in Couples and Family Therapy before becoming a staff clinician. Becoming a therapist has been my dream since I was in high school. It was during this stage of my life that I went to therapy and soon recognized how life-changing therapy can be. I decided to become a therapist when I was in high school. Ever since my own therapy experience, I knew that I wanted to help people better themselves and work through whatever they are going through.
What is the goal or purpose of therapy?
Counseling, to me, is a way to make real positive changes and growth that can last for a lifetime. As someone who was hesitant to start therapy, my one piece of advice is it is okay to ask for help. Asking for help shows a great sense of courage and strength. Struggling emotionally is exhausting and scary, but no one has to struggle alone. Even by deciding to come to therapy that is a big step in alleviating some of the pain and difficulty. My goal for therapy is to create a safe space to work collaborative to relieve issues and work towards the clients’ goals.
Therapy is an individualized process and each case is unique and therefore therapy becomes personalized. That is part of the beauty of therapy, that each case is different and that not only can a client learn but I can learn from my client. The bittersweet part of therapy is that there is no “cookie-cutter” way for therapy to work; it is an organic and fluid experience that is particular case by case. I aspire to make therapy a collaborative experience; I want to work with my client on equal ground, I do not pretend to be an expert on their life. Therapy should be a comfortable and safe space and it is my goal to do whatever it takes to create that kind of environment.
Therapy is where clients can practice using the tools provided to be able to apply them to their outside world and see positive changes in their lives. I love seeing clients improve and giving them the credit they deserve because therapy is hard work and they deserve to be praised. Clients have the power to change, if they want to, and I am here to help facilitate that change.
What does a first session with you usually consist of?
A first session with me consists of multiple components. The key “ingredient” to a first session with me is building rapport. Therapy does not work without building rapport with a client and turning that rapport into trust. It is important for me to understand what therapy means to my client and how the client believes therapy can be useful. It is also essential to me for clients not only to tell me about themselves, but to also get to know me.
Therapy is teamwork and it is important for myself as well as my client to feel like there is a mutual understanding and knowledge of each other. I always ask my clients if they have any questions for me, no matter what it is, and that I will always do my best to answer honestly. I also make a point to tell my clients to always correct me; I am human and won’t always be right or accurately interpret things and it is important for my client to correct me.
My goal for a first session is to set the stage for the collaborative process and to establish therapeutic goals. In thinking about the therapeutic process, one useful tool I use with all of my clients is the use of “I statements”. I have found that language and word choice are crucial to change. By using “I statements” the client is accessing a deeper feeling and more intimate conversation. While it can bring vulnerable emotions up, it also helps to create deeper connections and less blame.