Ask an Expert: Sheri Flaherty

December 19, 2023

Written by: Elisabeth Hutchins

Interviewed: Sheri Flaherty

What made Sheri decide to become a therapist?

Stemming from one of the core attributes of a therapist, empathy was the backbone to Sheri’s why to become a therapist. Empathy in brief, is one’s ability to put oneself in another’s shoes regardless of differences. Through her work with clients, Sheri supports clients in understanding themselves and navigating the world and relationships that surround them.

What types of clients does Sheri love working with?

While this question was challenging for Sheri, since she enjoys working with a wide variety of client populations, she was able to pinpoint the populations that she loves the most. Sheri enjoys working with adults who are dealing with life transitions and grief, and children/teens who are dealing with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Sheri believes the most important aspect to support the overall therapeutic relationship and client growth is the client making the choice to be in therapy.When clients choose therapy to help themselves, they are open and engaged in sharing their thoughts and feelings.

What is Sheri’s methodological approach to therapy and what does Sheri like about it?

Sheri mainly works from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach. The CBT approach as a therapeutic foundation works for Sheri because she feels the approach gives the functional control to the client. The client is empowered to change and is credited with the progress in therapy, not the clinician. The client is challenged to make changes in their thoughts that will ultimately support them in reaching their personal goals of improving feelings and behaviors.

What is the biggest concern Sheri hears from clients regarding going to therapy/getting therapy? How does Sheri help clients overcome this concern?

Sheri feels the biggest concern she hears from clients is how difficult it was to ask for help. Sheri finds she can overcome this challenge by affirming that asking for help is a strength, and she feels reviewing key take away messages at the end of session is key. Through these steps Sheri helps clients identify their progress.

What does Sheri wish society or clients understood about getting therapy or working with a therapist?

This question came with a heavy discussion and heavy-heart from Sheri regarding where mental health stands today and where she hopes it becomes in the future. Sheri wishes mental health to be a valued part of the social ideology and for clients to focus on their mental health issues rather than overcoming the stigma of attending therapy in the first place. In addition, Sheri wishes mental health medication to be less feared and more accessible to clients who could benefit from their mechanism of action.

What is the one piece of advice Sheri would offer about mental health?

Sheri answered this question without hesitation. Her advice would be for clients to view therapy as part of their self-care. Many people look to societal norms for self-care such as exercise and spa treatments but therapy is just as valuable. Mental health, much like exercise, is a lifelong journey. One does not get stronger or faster after one personal training session, and the same is true in regards to therapy.

What strategies or things does Sheri do to support her own mental health?

Strategies Sheri implements to support her mental health are to have enough down time to feel emotionally rested, obtain plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, ride her Peloton several times a week, and stay involved with family and friends. In this list Sheri highlighted the importance of taking care of her mental AND physical health.

What is one thing Sheri wishes clients understood about the grief process?

While Sheri felt she could not share just one thing that she wished clients understood about the grief process, she did share her passion for working with this population. Sheri made it clear the process of grieving is different for every client due to the complex nature of the events surrounding the death and relationships prior to the death. Many know that there are stages of grieving, though Sheri notes that clients move through these stages at their own pace and move fluidly between and within stages. Lastly, Sheri notes the pain that overcomes a client during the grief process. Sheri encourages her clients to go through the pain to allow their future selves to begin living again. This approach allows the client to not get stuck in the pain of grief and move forward towards a path of healing.

12 Days of Relationship Connection During the Holidays – Adrienne Dwyer

December 11, 2023

The holiday season can seem like a whirlwind time to be in a relationship. Between the normal work/life balance, family get-togethers, ‘friendsgivings’, and trying to create traditions of your own while in a partnership…the weeks can go by quickly. That is why it is important to take time to be present and grounded, both in yourself and in your relationship.

These are some tips for mindfulness and grounding activities to do by yourself or in a relationship during the holidays:

  • Day 1: Breathing: If you and your partner are finding yourselves having a particularly draining day, try the ‘4, 7, 8’ technique. Begin by holding hands, then inhale for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, exhale for the count of 8. This can be a quick way to re-center.
  • Day 2: Self Reflection: If you and your partner are finding yourselves having a particularly busy day, try to take a moment to reflect on your emotions, as well as your needs. Remembering these things, and then communicating them, can lead to intimate moments between partners.
  • Day 3: Set Boundaries: If you and your partner are finding yourselves in conflict with either each other or extended families, remember that setting clear boundaries about wants and needs during the holiday season can be the best way to achieve the most satisfaction and mindfulness during this time.
  • Day 4: Go For a Walk: If you and your partner are finding yourselves stagnant, try changing the scenery with a walk.
  • Day 5: Volunteering Your Time: If you and your partner are needing a change of perspective, try volunteering at a local organization. There are many that are in need of extra hands during the holiday season, and this can be a great way to give back…together.
  • Day 6: Try Something New: If you and your partner are needing a change of pace, try looking into some local activities (holiday related or not!). A favorite of my own is a holiday light show.
  • Day 7: Attend a Spiritual Gathering: If you and your partner are in need of re-centering, try attending a spiritual gathering together. This could be a prayer group, congregation, yoga, and more.
  • Day 8: Get Creative: If you and your partner are feeling depleted, try being artistic together. Whether it be painting, drawing, or origami…art can be a great way of reconnecting.
  • Day 9: Traditions: If you and your partner are in need of remembering why the holidays are special to you, try carrying out one of your favorite childhood traditions together. My personal go-to is decorating holiday ornaments.
  • Day 10: Movement: If you and your partner are in need of some extra movement, try taking a work out class together. This can be a fun way to ground, and there are many options such as Zumba, pilates, hot yoga, and more.
  • Day 11: Physical Touch: If you and your partner are feeling disconnected physically, try slowing down and recentering by going back to basic touches such as rubbing each other’s back, or laying together, somehow intertwined.
  • Day 12: Plan: If you and your partner are feeling particularly lost in all the holiday chaos, try planning some kind of post-holiday activity to look forward to. It could be as simple as an advanced reservation at your favorite restaurant, or a weekend getaway in late January. Having events (especially events that breed connection) to look forward to is a piece of advice I give to couples (and to myself) all the time.