About Psychotherapy

I can find no better words to describe the essence of the psychotherapy work that I do than those an artist friend of mine used to describe himself:

“I embark on a quest to find and connect with pieces of the heart, some battered, some lost, some hidden deep within. Embracing them I discover treasures.”

We are here to live with fullness and to thrive. With this belief in mind, as a psychotherapist, I strive to help you uncover what has been misplaced, misdirected or wounded in you; to find what lies in the corners of yourself and create a better relationship with the self and consequently with others. Therapy is a process of self-reflection and exploration that can be rich with struggle, challenge, and curiosity and rewarded by release and wonder.

The better you know yourself, the more you can choose what you want for your life. Without a strong insight into yourself, your life decisions are made according to unconscious patterns, faulty belief systems and past psychological wounds. The greater the insight and the stronger your understanding of you, the more you can choose what you want for your life, instead of life choosing for you.

Healthier mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical living comes from choice, healing, and greater awareness of self. I offer in-depth, insight-oriented, compassion-based psychotherapy with individuals, couples and groups that will help you achieve a greater self-awareness and help you determine what you want for yourself in your life.

As a therapist, I am committed to authentic, honest and compassionate support through your journey to a greater understanding of the self. Let’s open the door to possibility together and see what we can find, create and inspire inside of you. Feel free to call me to talk about how we may be able to work together in therapy.

How Therapy Works

Therapy is a thoughtful, mature, open dialogue between you and me. The intent of therapy is to enhance your life, to provide you with greater clarity, to arm you with the skills to face challenges — to open the doors to possibility.

Studies show that regular therapy sessions, either combined with medication or alone, greatly improve your mental health and your ability to identify and cope with life’s toughest situations and experiences.

Your journey in therapy may likely be filled with joy, frustration, anger, success, sadness, and just about any emotion possible. It is not easy, but the outcome of self-acceptance and greater happiness is worth the emotional experiences.

I am confident that therapy can help:

  • Increase your confidence
  • Provide a sense of peace and well-being
  • Improve how you manage stress and anxiety

And, our conversations are always confidential.

The First Therapy Session

The first time we meet—our first therapy session, or consultation—will take place in my office and lasts 50 minutes. After completing a short, basic form where you will provide your name and contact information, we will then discuss the events that led you to seek therapy.

Throughout our discussion, I will ask you a variety of questions that will help me to know more about you and what you are wanting to explore in therapy. Through this discussion, I will share some initial observations and thoughts about the potential for self-discovery and healing.

Our discussion is organic and each discussion with each client is unique. Because of this, your treatment will be as unique as you, your goals, and your situation. Before the hour ends, we will come up with a beginning game plan for our future therapy sessions and I will then briefly discuss my office policies, cancellation policies and fees.

Choosing a Therapist

The relationship with your therapist is unique to any other you may have. Feelings of trust and comfort are paramount and like most interactions between two humans, much of your choice will come down to “feeling right.”

If, after our first session, you feel good about our discussion, interaction, and our time together, I recommend an additional four to five sessions to see how our relationship continues.

Do I Lie Down?

My office includes a variety of seating options, from chairs to sofas. You do not, contrary to what you may have seen on television or in the movies, have to lie down during our sessions.


Sometimes the benefits of therapy are augmented by the prescription of medication to help manage anxiety, depression or other mood issues. The decision to include medication as part of treatment is a joint one between you, me and your psychiatrist. (To understand the difference between a psychotherapist, a psychiatrist, and a social worker, see my blog entry on the subject.) Sometimes medication is prescribed for a short period of time and other times, it is part of a long-term solution. Every situation is unique and the inclusion and duration of medication in your treatment will be considered individually.

Duration of Therapy

Each person’s length of time in therapy is different. Some people work on issues for a shorter period of time and cease coming; others find that one circumstance uncovers another situation and choose to do deeper and longer work. There is no one right answer.

The First Step

You have made a brave decision to even consider seeking therapy. Take the first step and either contact me, Susan Berlin, or call my Washington, DC office (202-333-1787) to make an initial appointment.