We at Health and Healing Therapy want to give you the opportunity to get to know our therapists, what their clients struggle with, how they help, and who they are. We believe that connection and comfort with your therapist is vital to growth and healing, so we hope that knowing more about us can put you to ease and assist you in making a decision about whether we are the right therapy practice for you. To do so, we have interviewed each of our therapists about themselves, their careers, and their thoughts around therapy.

Next, we want to present Salena Pesch! In the first half of her interview, Salena discusses her client-focused approach to therapy, the need to sometimes “walk through the mud,” and more about how she supports and cares for her clients.

Why do you think it’s important for people to participate in therapy?

For me, it’s mostly because it’s their story. I really find it important in the therapeutic process for therapy to be helpful to them, so whether that’s finding who they are, thinking of new ideas and how to respond differently, or to heal from past hurt, it’s important for it to be their process. I’m big into feedback in therapy, too. I want to make sure that it’s helpful for them and that they’re getting out of it what they need.

What does a therapy session with you look like?

First, it’ll be building a relationship. It’s really important to me for them to feel comfortable in the therapy session, so I like to start finding out about them, how we can work together to make things better, what they like, what they don’t like, and also why they’re there. Basically, what led them up to this point in seeking out therapy and seeking out help. They’ll get to know me, too! Most importantly, I want them to feel comfortable. I want them to feel like it’s just another relationship and that I’m another support to them. I think sharing your life can be a very vulnerable experience, and especially if they’re new to therapy it can be a new process, so I want them to be comfortable in that process.

What is the best advice you’ve given in a therapy session?

Actually, I try not to give advice too often! I really like to come at therapy from a collaborative perspective, where it’s me and them working together on what brought them in. I think that’s when the best change occurs — when it happens together with them, and also when they’re coming to these realizations organically. Often, I will just help clients make connections. I think that’s what I do a lot in the therapy sessions — make connections between different parts of their lives or something that they may have said before. If anything, they will often hear me ask in the therapy session, “where do you think that belief stems from?” So, I do that to get to the core of where those thought processes are coming from, and that leads us to draw further connections. We figure it out together.

What is one of the hardest parts of being a therapist?

I think that seeing people in pain and really having to come to terms with some hard truths in their life is probably the hardest part. I often tell clients that it gets hard before it gets better and to hang in through the process, because sometimes they have to really look at themselves and at their pain points, as we say, and figure out where those thoughts or beliefs originated before they can really get to the core of why that happened, and then to get to how they can change it. But, you have to go through the mud before you get to the other side. I think that’s probably the hardest part for me — helping people and walking with them as they go through the mud.

What do you like the most about being a therapist?

The other side of that, really! Seeing the change once they come through the other side and they start to make changes and think differently. All of that is rewarding for me, to see people just respond differently, react differently, and think of things differently. The change that I see in clients is really the best part. We don’t always get to see it, because sometimes the change can happen ten years down the road after they’ve seen you, but every once and a while we get to see that glimpse live.

What are common challenges that your clients face? What is an area or are areas of specialty you have?

I like to see teens and early adults, and some common challenges that they have are anxiety, depression, phase of life transitions, and trauma. I find that especially with trauma, people have gone through trauma, but sometimes they don’t always realize that’s what it is. And so, in digging through some of those hard feelings, I think that in therapy we give context to what some of those feelings are, and then they can work through it. Those are some of the common issues.

What do you want/is your hope for your clients?

My hope is that when they look back on their time throughout therapy, that they won’t remember me or anything that I said in particular, but that they will act differently and think differently. I hope they will have that change still with them, but that they won’t necessarily remember me or the therapeutic process. I hope they’ll be more confident in who they are and what they’re looking for, and be strong and a good advocate for themselves. That’s my hope for all of them.

Why is it that you hope they won’t remember you?

Again, it goes back to the fact that it’s their journey. I think of myself just as kind of the medium to get them to their point of change, and so I help them get along in that process. That’s my whole context in how and why I approach therapy — that I want it to be their journey. So, I hope they remember the journey, how they got there, the things they had to dig up, and what they had to go through and think through rather than remembering me as a person or things like that.

What do clients say about working with you?

I’m not sure! I would hope they would say that I made them feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. It’s important to me for therapy to be their space and that they feel comfortable in it. I like to have a conversational tone so we can just talk very comfortably. So, I would like to think that’s what they’d say.