June’s Featured Therapist, Kathy Meline
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists on the blog. This month’s Featured Therapist Kathy Meline, MEd, MFT, joined our staff in early 2019. Get to know more about Kathy in the interview below!
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
My journey to become a therapist has had some twists and turns. I graduated from college with a degree in communications – I was in my early twenties and thought I wanted a career in journalism or television. After a long and frustrating year of searching for a job I was hired by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to be an advertising sales clerk. After some time, I was promoted to advertising salesperson and then accepted a position in the Promotion Department writing advertising copy for both newspapers.
I learned a lot from each of those jobs, especially the importance of a good work ethic and being a productive and positive employee. What I also discovered after some time is that I wanted to do work that felt more emotionally meaningful and rewarding. I wanted to use my skills of being a good listener and problem solver, as well as fulfill my desire to help others who are struggling with life’s challenges. With the encouragement of some close friends, I decided to enroll at Temple University to pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. It was one of the best decisions of my life. It put me on the path to a career I love and eventually led me to the Council for Relationships where I recently completed the Post-Graduate Certificate Program in Marriage and Family Therapy!
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy?
For me, the goal of therapy is to help my clients increase self-awareness and improve mental well being. Therapy is an opportunity to gain a more accurate understanding about who you are and how you relate to the world. I understand that the decision to seek therapy and the process of developing a relationship with a therapist may feel intimidating. That’s why it’s so important to me that my clients feel safe and respected in the therapy room. Forming a bond of trust with my clients allows us to define goals that are mutually agreed upon. Therapy can provide many benefits, including support, hope, and guidance through difficult times. The key purpose of therapy for my clients is to take what they learn about themselves in our therapy sessions and apply it to their lives – in a sense, becoming their own therapist.
What does a first session with you usually consist of?
Everyone has their own unique set of struggles, so there is no one-size-fits-all first session. Because each client is different, I will tailor my sessions around the person’s needs and personality. Generally, though, the first session is all about laying the foundation for what will hopefully be a productive and meaningful relationship. To develop a connection with new clients, I will spend some time exploring the issues that brought them into therapy, as well as their history and background. I will also want to learn about their expectations of therapy to help me understand how I can best support them. And since therapy is a two-way relationship, I allow time for clients to ask questions about us working together, as well as questions about my experience and therapy style. Although every first session will look different, the goal I have going into these sessions is that my clients walk out feeling safe, respected, and heard. The decision to go to therapy requires strength and courage, and I want every client to leave the initial session hopeful about the future.
What kinds of clients do you work with?
As a therapist, I’m constantly inspired by the strength and resilience of my clients. Some are going through a major life transition, while others struggle with low self-esteem, relationship problems, stress, depression and/or anxiety. Many of my clients grapple with addiction issues and are in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol. They’re in therapy because they have enough self-awareness to know that they need support. To stay clean and sober, most of these clients have a sponsor and are active in a recovery group (Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous). They understand that lifestyle changes, such as changing the way they think and changing behavioral patterns that have developed over the years, help with recovery.
I have great admiration for clients who are open to examining where they are in life and are willing to make a commitment to personal growth. Clients will benefit most from therapy if they actively participate in the process. That means working collaboratively with the therapist, being open to new perspectives, and making positive changes. It also means doing work outside of our sessions, such as journaling, going to support groups, reading helpful books/articles, or tracking goals. I appreciate working with clients who value personal responsibility and accountability and strive to reach their full potential.
If you’re interested in therapy, request an appointment today!