Therapy with Sarah Henry, PhD

Sarah Henry is a psychologist in Reno, NV specializing in helping men and women in demanding careers navigate stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or burnout. As a military spouse and a mother, Dr. Henry is also particularly passionate about helping working moms balance motherhood with their career. In sessions, Dr. Henry utilizes evidence-based therapeutic approaches, including CBT, ACT, and mindfulness practices, to help her clients lower their stress and improve their overall wellbeing.

We asked Dr. Henry more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Dr. Henry’s background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

My journey in the field of neuropsychology and psychology began at the age of 15 when I attended my first yoga class. The sensations I felt after my first class made clear to me just how impactful the body can be on the brain and on mental health. From there, I pursued a graduate degree in Psycho-Neuro-Immunology (PNI) where I studied extensively the science behind the "mind-body" connection. I have felt so grateful to be in a field where I get to impact people in a meaningful way to help them find their greatest potential and their highest selves, not only for the betterment of their own families but also for their communities and ultimately, the world.

What was your previous work before going into private practice?

I previously worked in executive coaching and neuropsychology/clinical psychology with the Navy SEAL teams in San Diego, CA. During my time there, I specialized in working with trauma, injury, chronic pain, cognitive performance, and supporting families to help these elite operators function optimally in not only their professions but also the rest of their lives.

Dr. Henry’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

I genuinely believe that everyone is capable of creating a life they are so excited to be a part of and that they can't wait to wake up to. In each of us, there is skill and talent, and that only need be uncovered and reflected back to the individual.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I primarily work with individuals in career fields that are highly taxing and highly demanding, such as healthcare/medicine, law, finance, military special operations, and consulting. The age ranges tend to be 20's to 50's, though I can work with individuals as young as 16 and well into the 90s and beyond.

I love helping people pursue their goals and achieve greatly - not just in their careers but in their entire lives. I particularly resonate with parents who are in the throes of balancing a demanding career (such as medicine) and stepping into the role of parenthood - there is such an increase in demand when "parent" becomes a part of our identity and that can create struggles in every facet of life - career, partnership, and home.

I call this work "the executive home front" and love helping individuals and couples build their home lives with the same care and success as they've built their careers.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with individuals in demanding careers?

There are a number of career fields that, while rewarding both cognitively and otherwise, are highly demanding and generate a massive amount of stress. Persistent exposure to high stress can, over time, erode a person's sense of self and wellbeing and give rise to increased anxiety, depression, and even create chronic physical health conditions that weren't there before.

We provide evidence-based therapeutic interventions for psychological issues that are often related to the stress of high-demand career fields, including anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, chronic health issues, postpartum depression and anxiety, and relationship difficulty - all while having an understanding of and sensitivity to the unique demands of these chosen paths.

Can you tell us more about your specialties in working with couples?

Finding time for your relationship when you're a couple comprised of two ambitious counterparts can be challenging. Over time, the pressures from career stress coupled with the time demands of starting a family can erode the foundation of what was once a thriving partnership. We focus on optimizing partnership dynamics to build a strong family foundation in the context of both persons pursuing ambitious career trajectories.

Can you tell us about your work with working moms?

Every working mom is a superhero, but many of us wrestle with anxiety, overwhelm, and guilt as we struggle to balance the many roles we juggle - mom, professional, partner, and friend. I focus on providing evidence-based, strengths-focused and practical solutions for calming the chaos and finding joy, at the office and at home.

Therapy sessions with Dr. Henry

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

Our first session together is often about gaining an understanding the immediate issues that are bringing you to therapy or coaching, as well as gaining knowledge of the your background to help us see how you have gotten to where you are. This often includes things that are going well and things that you would like to improve. We then work together to try and develop some goals based on your ideal outcomes for the therapeutic and/or strategic relationship. Ongoing sessions focus on barriers and obstacles getting in the way of achieving those goals or the lifestyle that you are hoping for, and tackling those barriers one by one.

How long do clients typically see you for?

I am a firm believer that my role in a client's life is to provide the tools and skills to be able to achieve one's goals and maintain those gains. In practice, this can take many different forms. For individuals who have a very specific and targeted goal with a clear desired outcome in mind, I may only see them for two or three sessions. For those who have broader goals that are less well defined, or perhaps have several goals that need to be addressed sequentially, I can see them for a period of months or longer. It all depends on the length of time that continues to meet their needs and be of benefit for their desired outcomes.

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

I often assign homework in between sessions to aid in the development of new behavioral patterns or to encourage reflection on beliefs that are driving actions and motivations. Homework can range widely and is always tailored to the needs of the individual client; however, some recent examples of homework I have given include 1) track the way in which you spend your waking hours. What are you doing? 2) If you had a magic wand and the things that are bothering you or creating barriers that interfere with you living the kind of life you want to live were suddenly gone, what would an average day exactly one year from now look like? What would you be doing? How, and with whom, do you spend your time?

With 156 hours in a week, maybe only one or two of them is spent working directly with me, therefore homework is meant to maximize the benefits and increase gains made through the therapeutic relationship.

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

As we embark on working together, we will create a clear understanding of what your desired goals and/or outcomes are for the strategic relationship we will form. Together, we will devise ways to measure your progress on those goals. After every 4-6 sessions, we will set time aside to review the initial goals and intentions to see how far we have come since beginning our work together.

Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?

Talking out problems and issues with loved ones and friends who are well-meaning and have your best interest at heart can be helpful and is most certainly an important part of a healthy social life. However, when issues are many or there are ongoing struggles that seem to be repeating, there are key ways that working with a psychologist can benefit you well beyond just venting to a friend.

The first is that psychologists like myself train for years on understanding human behavior and how exactly how best to help with the kinds of challenges you are facing. The second is that the therapy space is absolutely confidential - there is no risk of judgment, shame, or harming any relationships in your life by adding additional emotional weight to them. Lastly, the time is dedicated just for you, with the expectation of focusing solely on you. Instead of harming a relationship by placing too much emotional weight on it, the therapy space can actually be used to strengthen the relationships and friendships in your life.

The benefits of working with a highly qualified, well trained psychologist can be felt in many, if not most, aspects of your life.

Visit Dr. Henry’s profile to read more about her and book an initial call!