The Drawbacks of Online Scheduling

by Sherry Katz Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The obvious value of online scheduling is efficiency and convenience.  Therapist and patient do not need to talk with each other to schedule their appointments.

Since our entire method of professionally offering service relies on talking to people, what, if any, areas of our work are affected by utilizing online appointment scheduling? 

The initial phone contact from the patient was once referred to as an “intake”.  

This was a chance for the therapist to assess an overview of the case and whether they or their agency, would be able to handle the level of care required.

This was also a way for a prospective patient to get a firsthand feel of working with either the particular therapist or the overall view of how the agency would address their matter.

The question for therapists to consider is whether the demographic and “check the box” information of online scheduling, is an equal substitute for a phone assessment intake.

Maybe in fact the first in person session has become the former phone intake. 

Only now we have a hopeful new patient sitting in front of us who may not be a good fit for the type of therapy work we do.

What if, when scheduling an initial appointment, instead of prioritizing time efficiency and convenience only, we limit our online scheduling gadgets to situations which do not actively require our professional skills?

Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome

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Surprise! They’re Not Changing. How About You?

by Sherry Katz Friday, June 12, 2015

Is one of your reasons for starting therapy because every approach you’ve tried in a particular relationship increases your frustration, hurt, and sadness?

And after explaining your outlook and reasoning to this person many times, the relationship patterns are still the same?

Therapy will give your sincere and heartfelt effort and concern, a new direction. 

Step One is accepting the profound realization that you are only able to change yourself. 

Despite your many good ideas and earnest care, the other person in the relationship, whether partner, sibling, adult child, any meaningful family member, may not want to understand your point, or want to agree with it.

The deeper problem is not necessarily that you have bad ideas or that the other person is intentionally being difficult.  

The discontent you are facing in the stressed relationship, is a pathway to knowing more about your own standards and satisfactions in relating.

If you are upset because the other person does not accept your suggestions, instead of inwardly disapproving, utilize this feeling of rejection as a sign of how highly you value that your advice is followed. 

If the other person criticizes what you consider key points in your value system, then allow yourself to appreciate that you have a clear value system.

If the other person dismisses your feelings, then this is your moment to be even more aware that your emotions are a way to express yourself.

All of these interactions are painful and tiring to some degree. 

Your reason for talking with a therapist is to stabilize and ground your perspective, believe in your right to be who you are, and strengthen your confidence in handling your part in a relationship that is currently stressed, and any relationship that develops in your world.

Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome.

Unfolding the "Magic" of Therapy

by Sherry Katz Tuesday, January 7, 2014

While often people acknowledge professional therapy creates gains in self-awareness, more confidence handling relationships, and improved ability to manage stress, how these results are achieved appears mysterious. 

What key factors in the conversation happen during a therapy session,  which inspire confidence and awareness in the patient, which were previously either weak or lacking?


From years of clinical practice, I summarize the way a therapist listens and responds to a patient, as “bi-lateral listening”. A therapist who helps you reach desired change, listens with both their mind and their heart. 


Hearing past the words, gives your therapist a read on your emotions.  If someone tells a story that includes major life shifts, and is matter of fact while doing so, a therapist may ask a question that lifts these shy emotions into the therapeutic dialogue. By giving more attention to emotions and identifying and elaborating on them during a therapy session, the patient learns how to know and explain their feelings.


The flip side usage of bi-lateral listening is if a patient during a session talks almost exclusively about their feelings and has little understanding of when feelings arise and how they are effecting both the patient and people in the patient’s life. In this case a therapist most likely would hear the emotions and speak to the cognitive processing of the patient. Your therapist may ask questions that help you collect information and theorize on how you are responding to the ways you express yourself.


As you and your therapist repeat this basic listening process during your therapy sessions, you’ll notice greater balance in your own approach and dialogues in your everyday repertoire with others. What starts developing and strengthening is your awareness of the vastness and complexity of your emotions and thoughts, and your ability to moderate when to express your emotions and when to express your thoughts. You may surprise yourself one day with how naturally you articulate feelings in situations you did not know you had any!


You may notice as well, yourself taking a new path in conversation rather than a debilitating emotional rerun. This will be your magical moment of recognizing the rewards of working with a professional talk therapist.


Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome.


Trust and Power in the Therapeutic Relationship

by Sherry Katz Monday, May 16, 2011


The relationship which you and your therapist develop as you talk about the stresses, disappointments, frustrations of your inner life is itself a tool for life learning. 

Besides the content of your session talks, the way in which you and your therapist interact is one important way for you to see yourself handle two of the main factors of any relationship. 

The first relationship factor is trust. 

The second relationship factor is power. 

Think about how in all relationships we are in a continual shuffling, trying to find balanced ground of whether we can trust someone. 

  • To what degree is the person with whom I would like a relationship trustworthy? 
  • What can I safely talk about with this person? 
  • How will I know within myself that I am in a place of where I can give my trust? 

Therapy is a professional service by highly trained, licensed professionals who are required to continue their education. Their job is to create a safe, uncritical, humanistic care environment just for you, the patient. 

Therapists are trained to keep their personal ways of interacting out of the relationship with you. The therapeutic relationship protects what you talk about; all sorts of laws and ethical codes exist to ensure this. 

You are safe to use the therapy space as the playground and sanctuary it is. Allow yourself new modalities and methods of recognizing and sustaining trust in a relationship. 

Similarly, in therapy you will have lots of opportunity for seeing the way you respond and utilize power, both your own and in response to the authority of the therapist. 

  • Do you believe close to every word the therapist tells you? 
  • Are you willing to ask questions of the therapist? 
  • Are there times you feel afraid of directly stating your thoughts? 

These are a few of the key areas of a relationship in which the patient's personal power is stuck. The further you can bring yourself to releasing from what traps your power inside, the better you will be able to do your share in building healthy relationships with others. 

Remember, because the therapeutic relationship is in service to your interest, growth, healing and development, you can expect to feel safe in trying new ways of doing your part in a relationship. 

Sherry Katz LCSW


Sherry Katz, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who received her MSW degree in 1981. She completed her advanced clinical training in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She specializes in systems/relational work with individuals, couples and families. The focus of her work is supporting each client toward finding their hidden strengths and applying these newly discovered views for good growth and balance. Ms. Katz opened her Ridgewood, NJ practice in 2000. Her website is



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