Wendy Pinder is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Danville, NY specializing in PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance use, and chronic illness. In sessions with clients, she often incorporates humor, music, and poetry, as well as mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral approaches.
Wendy brings nearly two decades of experience in social work/mental health to her work and is dedicated to providing an inclusive and nonjudgmental environment to meet a diverse range of client needs. We asked Wendy more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Wendy’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I decided to become a therapist when I was in my 40s and returned to graduate school. I have always been the person family and friends came to with their problems and concerns. A grad school professor suggested I go into mental health counseling so I thought, "Why Not?" I'm so glad I followed the suggestion!
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I've held many different jobs in my lifetime. I worked in daycare, and public schools in special education classrooms. I was an executive assistant for many years. I even worked for a television station where I produced a live TV program, did camera work, and did floor-directing. I was a medical assistant and an Emergency Medical Technician.
When I went back to grad school I started working in hospitals and mental health clinics. I worked on a mobile crisis team in a large city, as well as being the psychiatric assessment officer in a hospital emergency department.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and my dogs, gardening, reading, and I love to sing!
Wendy’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
My guiding principle is that no one is better than anyone else. No one has all the answers. We are all equal. We all struggle with the problems of being human. Whether it's finances, addictions, grief, health, employment, relationships, etc. As a therapist, I can create a safe, non-judgmental space where we can learn what helps you realize whatever it is you need to make life better for you.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I love working with creatives, actors, musicians, artists, dancers, and people who can think outside the box. I am drawn to these folks because I use a lot of creative thoughts and ideas in therapy. Years ago I was told by an employer that I didn't even know there was a box.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is more common than we think. We often live with symptoms of having nightmares, flashbacks, extreme anxiety, panic attacks, etc. but don't realize these symptoms appear from physical or emotional trauma that we may have experienced years ago. PTSD can be diagnosed in adults and children alike. I use mindfulness, guided meditation, and a skill called STOP, which is very simple yet effective.
Can you tell us more about your experience working with clients with major depression?
Major depression can feel like you have fallen into a deep, dark hole that you can't find your way out of. This can feel lonely and scary. It can feel like you will always be this way, but there is help. I use a combination of treatments for depression depending on each client. I may refer for medication if the client does not respond to emotional support and skills therapy.
Can you tell us about your work with clients on grief and loss?
Everyone will experience grief at some point in their lives. It's the culture in America to avoid speaking about death entirely. We stick our heads in the sand and make believe we will never experience grief. In the long run, denial makes it more difficult to deal with. Grief is not only about death. We might experience grief over the loss of a job, a child going off to college, or a new physical illness.
Often, I will simply sit with the client and listen as they talk about their loss. Dealing with loss is sometimes about being heard. I teach the client different skills and helpful techniques to gently guide them through this difficult time.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
What I find most rewarding about this work is seeing my client's lives change for the better. I have worked with those who have serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and folks with multiple personalities, and I have watched them blossom into happier people with a better understanding of their illness, and new ways to take care of themselves.
Therapy sessions with Wendy
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
In our first session, I will ask about your mental health and developmental history, who you live with, which medications you're taking, and what you do for a living. We will discuss your current symptoms and whether or not you have had mental health therapy in the past. All of these answers help me to create an individualized treatment plan for you. In ongoing sessions, you will learn new skills and new perspectives to help you achieve your treatment goals.
How long do clients typically see you for?
That depends on the client. Some people only need 5 or 6 sessions. Others stay with therapy for many months or even years.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
I often recommend:
- What Happened To You by Bruce Perry MD
- The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk MD
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
These authors all discuss overcoming physical and emotional trauma, as well as how to be in the moment, and how to love ourselves, warts and all.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
I will usually suggest reading certain books or practicing techniques learned in our session. There are therapies where a large part of the process is keeping journals, writing down emotional responses that occur during the day, and noting how you reacted to them.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I will occasionally ask you to fill out formal assessments ( PHQ-9 or GAD-7) to manage your progress. I will ask you to rate your symptoms at each session.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
It's time to seek therapy if your anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms become troublesome, keep you awake, cause nightmares, or otherwise disrupt your day.
How can I prepare for our first session?
The only thing you would need to bring is your insurance card if you're using it. Some folks bring fidget toys or comfort items to the first session, but there is nothing else you need to bring.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
When you feel that you either no longer experience your symptoms or you feel strong enough to handle them on your own you will be ready to leave therapy or reduce the session's frequency. You can always return to therapy or increase the frequency of sessions whenever you need to.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
Mental health therapists have many years of training and experience in proven therapies for treating symptoms. Also, It's nice to be able to have someone to work out your problems with who can't share them with someone else.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Try requesting a consultation with a few different therapists to see if you make a good match for therapy.
Visit Wendy’s profile to read more about her and book an initial call!