Hi, my name is Saima Shaik, LPC and I am a staff therapist at Shift Counseling, PC. You may be wondering what it would like to meet with me for individual therapy. Through this post, I am hoping to answer some of your questions, and give you an idea of what to expect.
The purpose of my therapy room is to be a space that helps to empower and heal. It’s meant to be a space where you can feel understood and able to let go of shame, resentments, and judgments. As a therapist, I can say that my therapy room is a safe space for emotional expression; however, until you feel it those words are meaningless. Knowing this, I have taken several intentional steps to make my therapy room a comforting place.
If we are meeting online, I will use a secure telehealth platform to keep your information safe. I have multiple options for secure platforms, so if we are having problems with one platform on any given day, we have a back up plan. You can be sure that I am meeting with you in a quiet, confidential space that is cleared of distractions so I can focus on you.
If you come to your appointment in person, you will get to experience the physical space of my therapy room. I am a therapist at Shift Counseling, PC, which is a small counseling practice. Our office is in a private building, and there are only four offices here. While we don’t have our own parking lot, there is free, close parking available on the street near our office.
When a client walks into our waiting room, they will notice a quiet and warm ambiance that will help in calming their nerves. Because we stagger our appointment times, you will experience minimal interaction with anyone other than your therapist. There is no receptionist. You just check in for your appointment using a tablet in the waiting room. There is a restroom, comfortable seating, and free drinking water available while you wait. Your therapist will come to the waiting room to greet you after you have checked in.
After I greet you in the waiting room, I will walk you down a short hallway to my office. I use white noise machines in the room to help keep our meeting confidential. Inside my therapy room, you may perceive an earthy and peaceful environment. There is interesting but soothing art on the walls. The sound of the outside world is muffled. Some natural light is available through a window in the office. Our office doesn’t use a lot of air fresheners, but I do have an air purifier running during the session, so the room should smell pleasantly neutral.
The emerald green, velvet couch may be an attraction for you. There are also pillows on the couch to help you get comfortable. You are welcome to hug or knead one of the pillows during the session. You may find the couch comforting and pleasing to the eye. Stroking the velvet couch can be a soothing tactic if you are feeling anxious. It can help ground you into the present moment and allow you to detach from the intrusive thoughts entering your mind.
Who Do I See For Therapy?
So, you may be wondering, what kind of people do I see in my therapy room? I work with adolescents and adults ages 15-65. For many people, my therapy room is the first therapy room they have been in. Many of my clients are young adults struggling with depression or anxiety. Others are going through a divorce or another life transition. Some may be struggling with work stress or relationship stressors. Some are specifically seeking to work with me because of my cultural background.
What is it like sitting in my therapy room, especially the first time? If you are seeking therapy for the first time, you might be skeptical of the process, and rightfully so. Your reservations may include fear of being judged, the stigma towards mental health in the community, difficulty being vulnerable, and overall questioning the therapeutic process. I believe that confronting the potentially awkward nature of an intake session can be beneficial in calming your nerves. We do not have to pretend like it’s fine when it’s not.
The intake session can be nerve-wrecking, but it’s okay. I will help bring your anxiety to awareness and take it slow. The first ever therapy session doesn’t have to be a full disclosure of your life traumas. It can simply be an opportunity to see if you connect with me enough to trust with your vulnerable side. Trust can be built slowly over time and doesn’t have to happen in the first session.
Finding the Right Therapist is Key
One of the most important factors for success with counseling is rapport between you and the therapist. I like to call it the vibe between the two individuals. If we are on the same wavelength then a successful therapeutic relationship is likely. If the connection is not present, then it would be best to seek a different therapist.
Not every therapist will be the right fit for you. This is something I fully understand. If you do not feel a connection, I am not offended and I would be happy to help you find other resources that may be a better fit. A vibe is a subjective feeling that cannot be controlled.
You Are my Focus
What might be going on in my mind when I sit with you in my Therapy Room? When you are in my room, whether it is their first session or your fiftieth session, you can expect my full attention. My open-ended questions come from a place of curiosity and desire to understand your worldview. Every bit of information you share is helpful to me for developing a treatment plan that is best for you. It’s courageous of you to share your life experiences, the pain, and the trauma. I appreciate you for opening up to me… It’s not an easy thing to do.
The process of sharing is also a form of reliving the experience, which is not easy, but the difference is this time you are not alone. You are meeting with someone who is solely focused on understanding and helping. The therapy room offers a space to process the emotions that are brought up. While you are expressing yourself, I am listening while also thinking through different frameworks to present a perspective that may help you. Sometimes a shift in perspective can make all the difference.
Get to Know Your True Self
Through my clinical experience of working with people who are struggling with anxiety and depression, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people have had a chance to truly get to know themselves. This is your chance to start getting to know yourself if you have not had a chance to do this already. Self-awareness is a life-long journey and it has to begin somewhere. Through the process of becoming self-aware, you are building autonomy, identifying triggers, and exploring your strengths and weaknesses. I am thinking about ways that I can understand why you are stuck, and how I can provide something different that can help you get unstuck.
What kinds of interventions do I use to help people in my Therapy Room? In my therapy room, I am drawing from my own perspective and training. Mindfulness is a concept that is a foundation of my practice. It allows me to incorporate unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and appreciation for the present moment. I can teach you these skills as well. Many times the reason for common issues such as anxiety and depression is the fear of uncertainty.
Lack of control can cause you to feel powerless, but there are ways to regain that control. In each moment, the one thing you can definitely can take control of is your present state of mind. The fear of uncertainty is one of the realest fears to exist, but the reality is that you are focusing on a future that doesn’t even exist yet. It is best to break the habit of giving an intangible future the power to control your tangible present.
If you are seeking therapy, there is a good chance that you are finding yourself struggling with daily life skills such as time management, sleep schedules, maintaining a healthy diet, or managing their stress. Regardless of your age, it is beneficial to develop and maintain healthy coping mechanisms. It is important to set realistic standards for yourself. If you do not manage our expectations that feed into perfectionist tendencies, then burnout is common. My motto in my personal and professional life is to be consistent, but with flexibility; It makes the consistency more sustainable.
CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a common approach that I might use to help you learn how to manage irrational thoughts. It is the process of identifying core beliefs and potentially changing them by challenging the thoughts they enforce. An important factor of this process is acknowledging the origin of the core belief and empathizing with the version of yourself who continued to believe it. A few common thoughts can be “I am not good enough” or “I am not worthy of good things, such as love, success and happiness”.
My goal is to help you widen your perspective by re-framing thoughts from negative to positive. I prefer to combine CBT techniques with acceptance-based approaches taken from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I can teach you to embrace acceptance in order to move forward in life. You don’t have to be okay with your circumstances to reach acceptance, but you do have to come to terms with the reality of the situation.
I also find that teaching skills for self-regulation is an essential part of the healing process, especially for individuals dealing with trauma. When unresolved trauma is triggered, you may have a trauma response that could be physical,emotional, and/or mental. In that moment, self-soothing can be very beneficial.
One technique is to use your senses to escape what is happening in your mind, such as smell, touch, taste, sound, and sight. Self-regulation can also be a form of emotion regulation, which requires one to be able to label their emotion and be intentional about the action that follows. Through self-exploration, you will find some techniques beneficial to soothe their symptoms.
Inside my therapy room, there is space for calm and relaxing guided meditations. We tend to forget that in moments when it feels like nothing is in our control, it can be helpful to focus on the one thing that we can control, which is our breath. I can teach you how to regulate your breathing patterns to relieve panic, anxiety, and manage stressful moments.
How does my Personal Background Influence What Happens in my Therapy Room?
Cultural competency is another very important part of my therapy practice. I know that every therapy approach and every intervention may not work for all my clients. They belong to different cultural backgrounds, different religions, different socioeconomic statuses, and most importantly they all have different life experiences. As a therapist, it is necessary to be mindful of other narratives and open to learning about other cultures. Preconceived notions should not be entering the therapy room because it can create an unintentional bias towards the client.
A Multicultural Perspective
My personal experience as a first generation Muslim American therapist allows me to be more aware of multicultural perspectives, which can be beneficial when a client is searching for a therapist from a similar culture or religion. Ultimately, it all depends on what you feel is best for you and what I can do to provide the best care. Your healing journey does not define who they are, it is simply an ongoing process of building and maintaining an empowering relationship with life itself.
I appreciate you taking the time to read what it is like sitting in my therapy room. I hope you were able to get a sense of the warmth and ease we have tried to incorporate into your therapy experience.“Sometimes you find calm for the first time in a therapy room. Once you know how to find it, this becomes a skill that you can take with you outside of the therapy room and into your life”
Begin Counseling with Saima, Chicago-Area Therapist
Getting started with your new therapist, Saima, is easy. Our North Riverside, IL counseling practice is convenient to multiple areas of Chicagoland including Riverside, La Grange Park, Brookfield, Broadview, and Saima offers telehealth options as well. If you’re ready to begin, simply follow these steps:
- Reach out to schedule an initial therapy consultation.
- Begin working with Saima, as your skilled, caring therapist.
- Feel more confident in navigating life’s transitions!
Other Mental Health Services Offered in Chicago, IL
Shift Counseling, PC specializes in treating young adults with mental health concerns with a variety of techniques. In addition to therapy for depression, we also offer Adjustment Disorder Therapy, Multicultural Counseling, PTSD and Trauma Therapy, Young Adult Focused Therapy, and Anxiety Therapy online or in person.