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COUNSELING & COACHING

MY APPROACH

I integrate the foundations of counseling psychology with the action-oriented approach of coaching. The most common complaint that I hear from clients and friends is that previous professionals did not provide specific feedback and strategies. In a survey of people with high achieving personalities, respondents noted that progress and results were especially important to them. Thus, I strive to maximize my clients’  investment by providing specific action recommendations.

Providing specific strategies and feedback is only one of the ways my approach differs from traditional psychology. My personal pet peeve is the view of psychology as useful only for fixing what is broken. I argue that psychology should be used proactively to promote resilience and optimal functioning (If you look at the tiny words in my logo, they say Heal, Change, Conquer. This is the PC version of Heal, Change, Kick Ass). Traditional psychology assumes mental illness; I assume health. My clientele are mentally stable, high functioning and generally well-adjusted. They are also highly motivated, big picture thinkers, generous, funny, and strong-willed.

 “FIT” 

Potential clients should screen myself and any other psychologist/coach with these questions:

“Is he/she competent?”        “Is it a good personality fit?”       “Do I trust him/her?”

stock-photo-52945770-new-mindset-new-resultsOn trust: I have found that strong interpersonal trust combined with appropriate strategies helps people achieve goals much more quickly. Similarly, I take on clients who I genuinely like and respect. I cannot imagine working on important personal or professional goals with someone who did not truly value and believe in me; thus, I extend the same dignity and respect that I would want by ensuring that there is a good interpersonal fit before we commence working together.

On honesty: I try to be as straightforward as possible in our interactions. Some people see me specifically for objective feedback or because they feel others will tell them what they want to hear. I ask my clients to let me know what strategies resonate. If someone says “that’s a great idea, but it doesn’t fit for me,’ it allows us to move on to another solution.

On confidentiality: As a licensed psychologist, our communication is privileged. This means there is an extra level protection on your privacy such that our communication cannot be used against you in court. Your privacy is also protected by the HIPAA privacy rules. Additionally, both the ethical code of psychology and my personal code of conduct is to ensure confidentiality. Because I have worked with a number of sensitive issues, I tend to go beyond the letter of the law on privacy. This is one of the reasons I prefer not to work with insurance companies. Additionally, I am careful about anything that I put into writing. If I have concerns, I discuss the options and their potential impact with the client.

On Spirituality and Christianity: Some people want to a see a counselor-coach with a similar spiritual perspective. At this point about 30% of my clientele identify as Spiritual, Non-Religious, 30% identify as Christian, 10% identify as Jewish, and 30% identify as Agnostic. My personal background is Judeo-Christian, and I strive to be a non-freaky, open-minded, Jesus-loving person. There are many different world views, even within a specific spiritual belief pattern. I strive to integrate each client’s uniquely personal beliefs. Some people do not care about spirituality and it never comes up–that’s fine too. Overall, my primary focus is to assist clients in achieving their goals using whatever tools are available, including their own belief system.

TECHNIQUES

I draw my conceptualization and strategies from the fields of individual psychology (personality, motivational, mental health, behavioral change), social psychology (group dynamics), neuropsychology, career psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, and health psychology. Below are the specific techniques that I frequently use to maximize success with clients. They include Cognitive-Behavioral, Solution-Focused, Sand Tray, and EMDR.

Regardless of the specific techniques, my focus is strategic and action-oriented. Underlying the process is a constant assessment of the variables that are contributing both to progress and to stuck points. Both the client and I assess the strategies that are implemented in order to arrive at the best solutions for long-term success. I do realize that there are times when someone needs my assistance because life has exploded around them. When this happens, goals and progress take second place to survival and basic health maintenance (see the Please Just Keep Me Sane approach below).

COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL

The cognitive-behavioral approach integrates strategies for changing the way we think and changing the way we act. It is useful for a wide spectrum of difficulties and goals. For example, a person can use cognitive-behavioral strategies to decrease anxiety in social situations. Cognitive-behavioral strategies are also used in optimizing productivity and peak performance. I use cognitive-behavioral strategies on myself every day. They help me to declutter my brain, change my perspective and act on my most important priorities. The technique works really well for highly motivated, self-aware clients as it requires one to tune in to specific thought patterns and actively work to challenge and change them.

SAND TRAY

Sand Tray is a therapy technique that is especially effective for visual/creative people and for promoting progress on issues that are difficult to verbalize. It is literally a tray of sand in which a person places objects that represent the topic at hand. Sometimes, highly intelligent people tend to intellectualize situations to the extent that they have difficulty processing emotion; Sand Tray circumvents this problem. Just as we have information processing preferences in terms of whether we prefer to read a book or listen to it, sand tray allows us to choose between a verbal or a non-verbal way of processing emotion.

SOLUTION-FOCUSED

The solution-focused approach is a concise and future-oriented perspective that works with well-defined, discrete goals. Both cognitive-behavioral and solution-focused strategies are frequently implemented in both coaching and counseling. One of the fundamental principles of the solution-focused approach is the emphasis on success. I frequently ask clients “what worked?” or “when did this go well for you?” When we focus only on times of difficulty, we lose half of the information. My other favorite aspect of the solution-focused approach is its focus on one’s ideal future. Even though we know that life is not completely predictable, it is helpful to align present goals with a larger vision of what we want for our lives.

EMDR

EMDR is a technique that combines aspects of cognitive therapy with bilateral stimulation (sets of eye movements or hand tapping). The approach is often used in the treatment of trauma. Of all change techniques, EMDR is the one that has most surprised me. I was extremely skeptical about it in the beginning, and it is now a preferred techniques in achieving rapid healing and change. Its premise is neurological, which resonates with my previous specialization in neurology. Within the scope of my clientele, the people who have had the most success with EMDR are those with a generally positive self-image who are highly motivated to succeed.

PLEASE JUST KEEP ME SANE

“I feel like I’m going crazy.” “I don’t want to turn out like my mother.” Sometimes life hits, hard. During these times, people often need someone to walk beside them and reassure them. I focus on providing support, relevant information, and assisting with basic health maintenance. High stress, especially over an extended period of time, tends to destroy people physically. When a situation is going to be a marathon, rather than a sprint, our strategies shift accordingly. Thus, we work on stress management and integrating as many factors of resilience as possible to shield a person’s physical well-being. This may involve coordinating care with a physician or just monitoring basic wellness factors. A frequent question I receive from high achieving personalities is “am I handling this right?” or a statement “I’m not handling this well.” In these instances, I simultaneously reinforce the positive aspects of their approach while looking for areas that can be adjusted.

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1717 East Bell Road
Suite 9
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480.382.0383   .  
dr.tricia@drtriciagroff.com

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