Amanda Frey, LPC, LMFT

Meet the Therapist: Amanda Frey, LPC, LMFT

In Meet the Therapist, Therapy by Kalamazoo Therapy Group

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in any relationship-related problem or enhancement. That could be couples, families, and even individuals who are wanting help with how to handle another person, or a relationship, in their life. I would also say I sub-specialize with nontraditional relationships, including the queer community at large (LGBTQIA+, nonmonogamy, kink, etc.).

I love working with clients to: make relationships and connections in their lives feel more meaningful and genuine, create healthy boundaries with those around them, find their own inner needs/wants and express them in an effective and healthy way, and release old survival and coping strategies from childhood to create healthier ones for adulthood.

What can clients expect when they first come to therapy? How would you describe a typical session with you?

My first session is unlike the rest, because it’s a true introduction to working with me. Obviously I’ll ask questions to get an overview of what brings clients to see me, but the majority of the session is spent getting to know me, and explaining what to expect working with me. I want my clients to leave their first session with a good idea or gut feeling about whether I will be a good therapeutic fit for them. (With most counselors it takes 2-3 months to figure that out, so I really try to fast-track that process.)

Sessions from there on out really depend on the client’s presenting concern or goal.

  • With couples, I have the next 5 sessions pre-planned with info gathering and lessons to get a communication baseline established (which usually ends up fixing 50% of their complaints). After that, we dig deep into the goals that brought them in, continually learning new things, trying new strategies at home, and making sure we’re on the right path. Although I can meet with couples individually, it’s never something I require, and with 90% of couples every session is together.
  • With individuals, I usually take it one of two ways after the first session: a formal intake to build rapport and get goals established (better for people with mild symptoms looking for life enhancement), or a week-by-week approach where we tackle whatever needs helped in the moment (better for people in crisis or high stress situations).
  • With families, the first month is usually spent getting everyone into an individual session or two, to talk to me about their individual concerns and goals on a deeper level. After I have a good understanding of everyone’s perspectives, and I feel enough rapport has been built with each individual, meeting in smaller or larger groups becomes the priority. Every family situation is different, so “the plan” will be completely individualized based on my evaluation of what will be most beneficial.
What is your personal style as a therapist?

I see myself as a very genuine, down to earth therapist. I’m horrible at being fake and chameleoning, so I really bring my personality and thoughts to the table. I want to be a safe place for clients to express their unwanted thoughts and difficult feelings, but I also want to be able to navigate clients to find their light at the end of the tunnel.

I often tell clients that I’m a “really loud mirror” – I’m not going to put words into people’s mouth or make up what I see, but I will take what clients give me and amplify it right back at them, making it almost impossible to hide from.

How have you seen therapy benefit your clients?

I’ve seen people learn life skills, grow into who they want to be, better understand themselves and others, process trauma, create healthy boundaries, accomplish goals, learn how to manage their mental illness, and make amazing life changes. Those things are made possible, or just easier, with the help of therapy. Whatever you want to accomplish, I’m a true believer that motivation and the right therapist can help you make it happen.

What do you think are the most important considerations when looking for a therapist?

I think there are 2 main things to consider:

  1. Is the therapist interested in working with your complaints/problems? A therapist with a lot of experience or enthusiasm for your concerns is going to really show up and be as dedicated as you are, thus helping you get way more work done. But more importantly…
  2. Do you think you’ll like them?! Unfortunately that can be really difficult to tell until you meet them. But do you like their online “voice” and photo? Do their areas of interest or public presence line up with your values? If you like your therapist, you’ll look forward to seeing them, you’ll trust them, you’ll take them seriously, and you’ll get amazing work done, no matter the topic.

It can take a few tries to find that right person, but it’s worth the energy!

What do you hope your clients walk away with?

I want them to walk away on a better path than they came in on. That doesn’t always mean everything is perfect or fixed, but at least they have more tools and skills to consciously create the life they want, and hopefully a vision for how to get there.

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