Therapy with Kimberly Schmidt Bevans, LMHC

Kimberly Schmidt Bevans is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist in Brookline, Massachusetts. Kimberly works college students and adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship challenges, life transitions, and difficulties with stress management and communication. She specializes in using mind-body and expressive therapies to help clients resolve trauma, heal difficult experiences held in the body, and feel more at peace.

We asked Kimberly about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Kimberly’s specialties and therapy philosophies

1. What guiding principles inform your work?

I come from a belief that everyone's core self -- everything they need to be their best selves -- is already inside them.

My perspective is that over the course of living life, we have all made adjustments and compromises to get by. Noticing and understanding our patterns of behaviors, movements, and thoughts -- both the ones that serve us and those that don't -- opens doors to heal, make different choices, and strengthen patterns that work well. By turning our attention to the body and creativity in psychotherapy, we get a fuller sense of ourselves and more opportunities to make change.

I believe that everyone is trying their best and everyone's story has elements that are unique and elements that are universal.

2. Can you tell us more about your work with young adults?

A lot of my patients are in college or are in the early stages of their careers and living on their own. Our American culture has placed a lot of pressure on young people to be "productive" all the time, know exactly what they want, and know how to get there. This results in an increase of anxiety and depression, among other diagnosable problems. Within that, I have found that it can also make people trust themselves less. They are less familiar with and less willing to have periods of life to explore, try new things, to be in touch with their own drives, talents, and skills. I find that this pressure can greatly divorce a person from themselves.

In my sessions, we do a lot of work of slowing down, identifying the belief systems that a person operates from, and taking a look at how these things may be "working" and not working for them. Slowing down in the body, through movement, creativity, and meditation, gives a framework to both listen and identify patterns, explore how to make new patterns, and listen to what is really needed in life.

3. Can you tell us more about your specialty in trauma?

All of us have experienced trauma, from smaller stressors to life-threatening experiences. When an experience of trauma and stress has gotten us stuck in the past, when we live from a place where it feels like the event is happening over and over, we carry out ways of coping that don't align with what life is like right now.

With deep, ongoing, or very impactful traumas, I take the utmost care to honor how the traumatic coping behavior plays out for someone, and slowly start to bring attention to it (the behavior, not necessarily the trauma itself). We have to transform how we remember the traumatic or stressful experience and make new meaning of the coping behaviors.

4. Can you tell us more about your specialties in anxiety and depression?

Anxiety and depression are rooted in stress and trauma. Anxiety is a way of coping that results in a nervous system that is on high alert, hyper-aroused, and often with a thinking mind that is difficult to reign in. Depression is a way of coping that responds with a withdrawal from life. In both cases it is important to find the root cause and identify new ways of coping.

5. What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Therapy is not all "a-ha" moments, but when they happen, when I see a spark of life in someone's eyes and in their movements, that is heartwarming and inspiring to me. I love building to these moments, knowing that they will come, whether in the first session or many months into therapy. From there, it is rewarding to hear how a person has translated their healing and self understanding into meaningful and wanted change, living their lives with more ease.

6. What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I generally work with college students and adults. In either category, I tend to work with a lot of people going through big changes. I love the very powerful place where change has been forced upon us or we decide to make change. That place holds great opportunity for us to grow and become closer to the very essence of ourselves.

Kimberly’s background and personal life

7. How did you decide to become a therapist?

As I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I came across an article in Dance Magazine about Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT). I don't remember the exact words, but a Dance/Movement Therapist talked about expressively about integrating the body into everyday life and helping people be more nurturing and playful in their bodies. It spoke to me, and I wanted to know how one could encourage more energy and vitality both in individuals and in larger cultures, such as a workplace.

8. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to read, dance, be outdoors, play with my family, practice yoga, spend time with friends, and volunteer in my community.

9. What was your previous work before going into private practice?

I have worked in opioid treatment and community mental health.

Therapy sessions with Kimberly

10. What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?

Before our session, I send you electronic forms to review and sign, and we square away insurance and payment.

In the first session, I try to get to know you. Although I do a lot of work of paying attention to the body, the first session is often very verbal so you can share your history and symptoms.

Ongoing sessions are tailored to your needs. I encourage my clients to pay attention to the moments in their lives where they feel a pull or a “hook;” this may be “my boyfriend and I got into another fight” or “the school year is starting off well but I feel depressed” to “I’m having a lot of anxiety about my friendships.” The places in life that keep snagging you, that you have strong reactions to, or that grab your attention are the ones you should bring to session. I ask you questions about them and over time we’ll start to see what coping skills you are using in life consciously and unconsciously. We may talk about them or-- if you’re comfortable--move creatively to express how, for example, your anxiety feels.

11. How can I prepare for our first session?

12. Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

Generally, yes. "Homework" helps bridge the work in therapy to your everyday life. This homework is often "pay attention to a certain pattern that we've identified,” practicing skills, meditation, reframing thoughts, journaling, or communicating your needs and wants to a loved one.

13. How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?

I have a treatment plan that sets measurable goals around the skills that you are practicing, such as directly communicating your needs, practicing active rest, or journaling. I check in every session to see if life is getting easier for you, if your symptoms are diminishing, or if you’re feeling better.

14. How long do clients typically see you for?

This varies widely, and can range from 6 months to several years.

15. How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?

I find that patients and I can tell when their lives feel easier, that they can go for longer lengths of time without the support of therapy (for example, when they drop from every week to every other week). It's important not to drop too quickly and communicate to me if you feel like ending it abruptly. Ending therapy or transitioning to another therapist works best when planned.

16. Are there any books you often recommend to clients?

I don’t recommend a ton of books, but sometimes I recommend: