Tabitha Ford is a New York City-based Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) also licensed in the states of New Jersey and Florida. Tabitha most frequently works with young adults facing major life transitions, such as graduating college, navigating the workforce, grieving a recent relationship, or recovering from various mental health challenges. As a new mother herself, Tabitha also enjoys working with new mothers and couples on topics related to parenthood and marriage. Regardless of presenting concern, however, Tabitha strives to create an equitable and inclusive practice rooted in humanistic and client-focused therapeutic principles.
We asked Tabitha more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Tabitha’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
People don’t usually grow up saying they want to work in the field of social work. It’s sort of a career that finds you. In my own journey toward self discovery and healing, I stumbled upon this field and fell in love. I chose the social work field because of how versatile it is. You can work at a not-for-profit, in schools, in hospitals, or you can run a private practice, do administrative work, etc. Most my experience has been with the homeless, which involves working many different types of people from all walks of life. I was most drawn toward working with at-risk youth in this work, since this is often a time of great transitions.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I worked at a not-for-profit as a Program Director for a program that serves runaway and homeless youth (16-24 years old).
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I'm a new mom, so what free time? In all seriousness, though, I enjoy spending my free time with my daughter, my pets, and my partner.
Tabitha’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Coping mechanisms are a huge part of our ability to adapt to change and deal with life stressors. However, ways in which we find to cope can sometimes be more or less healthy. My job is to help you identify which coping skills you developed are actually benefiting you and which ones are creating unnecessary barriers for you.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I most frequently work with young adults, new parents, and couples. I love working with individuals who are experiencing varying degrees of transition. As a therapist, who has also been in therapy, I think it is important that I have similar life experiences.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with young adults?
Much of my experience has been working with at-risk youth. Often those who have experienced significant trauma have experienced such due to other people's choices in their life. However, young adulthood is when you have the ability to make your own choices and can begin to heal from the trauma.
Can you tell us more about your work with new/expectant moms?
As a new mom myself, I know being a mom can be hard. You're faced with pressures from your family, from society, and even from your own expectations of what constitutes a "good mom." Often during this period you are also struggling with changing hormones, little sleep, and receiving constant unsolicited advice. My job is to provide a safe space for you to navigate this new responsibility and work on changing the dynamics of your relationships with others.
Can you tell us about your work with couples?
I love working with couples simply because there are often issues we are not able to work on alone. In couple's therapy, you can begin to identify your contribution to the conflicts in the relationship and get the tools you need to help you not repeat similar patterns. These can be powerful tools to help you grow as a person, even if the person you are in couples therapy with doesn't end up being your "forever" person.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I love being able to help people discover their strengths and abilities. I also love being able to witness and be a part of people's journeys to self discovery.
Therapy sessions with Tabitha
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
Choosing to seek out therapy can be a very scary decision. After all, you’re expected to pour your heart and soul out to this complete stranger, and you're left feeling vulnerable. However, sometimes not having an emotional investment in someone allows you actually be more open and honest with both the therapist and yourself.
Even though there are usually many reasons why we need to be in therapy, usually there is one event or thing that makes us pull the trigger and finally sign up for therapy. Therefore, the first question I usually ask my clients is: "For you, what was that one thing or event?"
How long do clients typically see you for?
It depends. Some people come to therapy with one or two issues that they can resolve in a several months. While others come into therapy with one presenting issue, but they begin unpacking several layers of complex trauma that take some more time to work through.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
I often recommend say Courage to Change. It's a reading often recommended for individuals who are friends, family, or partners of people with substance abuse issues. It's a good book to read if you are struggling with codependency and emotional regulation.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
I don't assign the traditional kind of homework like in traditional therapy settings, but I do like to end therapy sessions by giving you something to work on during the week. This will usually entail addressing an identified problem from the therapy session. Depending on how comfortable you are with change, your "assigned task" could be something as simple as just getting out of bed or showering for the day.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
Change and progress does not look linear, so we often take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. However, as long as we keep taking steps forward, we will eventually find ourselves in a better place than we started. Progress, not perfection.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Simple as that.
How can I prepare for our first session?
Just bring yourself.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
When topics brought up in session become more routine and less chaotic, it may be time to reduce sessions. Also, sometimes therapy may run its course with one therapist, but you can benefit from different perspectives and insights when transferring to a new therapist.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
Your partner, friends, or other people who care about you often have an emotional investment with you. They might even need their own therapy, so their advice—while well intentioned—may not be leading you to a path of self-improvement. It can also be difficult to hear certain things from loved ones, which can make us become defensive, even if they are only trying to help.
Sometimes life can get hectic and you can be pulled in a million different directions, that you neglect your own well being. Choosing to go to therapy is choosing to focus on yourself for 45 minutes each time you go. I’ll be honest, working on yourself is not always pretty, but it’s worth it. You’re worth it. And it doesn’t always have to be delving into the depths of you childhood, therapy can be done through typical conversation of your daily life.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
It's okay to reach out for help.
Visit Tabitha’s profile to read more about her and book an initial call!