Therapy with Stephanie Gold, PhD

Stephanie Gold is a Psychologist in Colorado specializing in anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. We asked Dr. Gold more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Dr. Gold's background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

I decided to become a therapist when I was in college. Growing up, I had always been interested in the way people operate, how people develop, and relationships. I majored in Psychology, and loved my psychology classes. At that time, I also had my first experience as a therapy client. I was having some depressive feelings so I went to speak with someone.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy hiking, playing with my dogs, hanging out with my family and friends, and seeing live music. I also practice Ashtanga Yoga 4-5 mornings per week.

Dr. Gold's specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

The guiding principles that inform my work are curiosity, compassion, truthfulness, and teamwork. I think it is important to maintain a stance of curiosity; I want to understand my clients on a deep level. I want to know how my clients experience living in the world. It is important to me to have compassion for my clients, and to help them develop compassion towards themselves.

Truthfulness is also high on my list. Many of my clients come to therapy with beliefs about themselves and the world that simply aren't true. I discuss with my clients what is true and what is real. Finally, teamwork is key. I work collaboratively with each client to help them make the changes they want and reach the goals that they have in mind.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I enjoy working with people who need help with anxiety and with relationships. Many people want their relationships to be different but they don't know how to make that a reality. For example, I work with many people who avoid conflict and consider themselves to be "people pleasers." I help these clients learn how to take care of themselves, stand up for themselves, and have healthier boundaries.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in anxiety?

Anyone can experience anxiety. Often, a person who has anxiety has been through a difficult experience or event and has not had an opportunity to process their feelings about the event. Examples of a difficult event could be anything from growing up with a verbally abusive parent to getting a diagnosis of cancer and going through cancer treatment to starting a new job. The range of experiences that can cause anxiety is vast, and the common factor that causes the anxiety is that there are feelings in the person's body that need to be discussed and processed with a therapist.

For client's with anxiety, I ask questions to learn exactly how they experience anxiety (there are many possible symptoms). Then, we talk about the client's experience, thoughts, and feelings and try to make sense of why they feel the way they do. When people feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and feelings with their therapist, their symptoms of anxiety begin to lift.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in depression?

People who are depressed can experience a myriad of symptoms. For example, they may feel tired, sleep too much or too little, feel worthless and hopeless, have negative thoughts about themselves, and feel unmotivated to take part in activities that used to bring them joy. People who have symptoms of depression frequently experience some level of anxiety as well. I believe that the root cause of depression can be similar to that which causes anxiety, in that it is the inability to identify, experience, and express feelings that are inside of the body.

Client's need help to learn what the underlying cause of their depression is. Perhaps a client has been abused, been involved in an unhealthy relationship, or has experienced a significant loss and has not had a chance to process strong feelings. I help my clients understand why they are depressed, discuss their feelings, and figure out what they can do to help themselves feel better.

Can you tell us about your work with clients on relationship issues?

Relationships have the potential to be one of the most fulfilling and meaningful aspects of a person's life. When children grow up in families in which their primary caretakers did not model a healthy relationship, they grow up to be adults who (surprise!) do not know how to have healthy relationships. So many of the clients who land in my office come from families with dysfunctional relationships. Even worse, because this is the only thing the client grew up with and they have nothing to compare it to, they have a belief that the dysfunction was normal (e.g., all father's come home drunk sometimes and rage at their wives and kids, right?).

If other people make you feel drained, and relationships bring you more stress than joy, these are signs that your relationships need work. I help clients examine their relationships with their primary caretakers, their current relationships (romantic, friendships, work relationships) and together we uncover patterns of who the client is in relationships. In therapy, we go on a deep exploration of who you have learned to be in relationships, and figure out what you want to be different.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The thing I find most rewarding about my work are the close relationships I develop with my clients, and the feeling when a client succeeds in making the changes they want in their life. When a client tells me that I have helped them, and that they feel better, I am reminded of how amazing my job is and how lucky I am to do this for a living.

Therapy sessions with Dr. Gold

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

In the first session, I will ask you questions and also do plenty of listening. I want to hear about all the aspects of your life. What is it like to be you? What are the areas you most need help with? And what do you want to get out of therapy?

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

I don't assign homework per se. Sometimes client's ask me what they can do in the time between sessions. To that question, I may suggest that they write down their thoughts and feelings or jot down anything that comes to their mind during the week that they want to discuss the following week with me.

I may also suggest that if a certain aspect of what we are working on comes up during the week, that they notice it and tell me about it in the next session. For example, if the client wants to work on not being a people pleaser, to notice when they see themselves doing it during the week and tell me about it in the next session.

How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?

If you want to understand yourself on a deeper level, if you are not feeling mentally well, if your relationships feel difficult and stressful instead of providing a sense of ease and joy, these are reasons to seek therapy.

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

When you feel better, your anxiety has lessened or gone away, your depression has lifted, your relationships have improved, when you feel more confident, it may be time to reduce the frequency of sessions or stop therapy. Another reason you may decide to end therapy is if you want to work on something in which I am not an expert, you may decide to see someone with a different area of expertise or get a new perspective from a new therapist.

Some people are nervous to tell their therapist that they want to change therapists. Your therapy is not about my feelings, it is about your feelings. In the case that you want to try a new therapist, I will do my best to help you find someone great. Additionally, many people who stop therapy may decide to come back when life throws a challenge their way. Some people never come back. Whatever you do is ok. Therapy is a choice and you decide what and who is right for you at any given time in your life.

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

Partners, friends, or other loved ones may care about you and want to help you. When people in your life give you advice, while they mean well, this advice tends to be based on their own experience. Your therapist will be interested in YOUR experience and help you feel empowered to make changes and redefine your life on your own terms. Therapists are trained to help you in a very different way than a friend or family member is able to do. A friend or family member can give advice, but a therapist actually helps you change yourself in a deep and meaningful way.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

The relationship between the client and the therapist is one of the key ingredients in a successful therapy treatment. It is very important that you find a therapist that you like, you feel comfortable with, and that you grow to trust. This is a big decision. Take your time and interview a few therapists until you find one whose personality you like. You should feel confident that your therapist has the expertise and training to help you with your issues.

Visit Stephanie’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and contact her for an initial consultation!