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.