My Way of Being

By Joanna Barrett, LMHC

Back in graduate school, I wrote a paper called “My Way of Being,” which explained the importance of having a warm, caring, and empathetic demeanor in therapy sessions.  

Still true many years later, I try to relate to clients’ struggles and offer guidance in an easily digestible, down-to-earth way.  

My Way of Being encompasses empathetic listening, compassion, and a calm manner.  I model what is possible for communication while encouraging clients to think of possible ways to make changes in their lives.  

I encourage my clients to speak their truth, and I model this through speaking my truth and sharing authentically with them, deeply relating to and seeing the human that is in front of me.  Isn’t authenticity and honesty part of a trusting relationship?

I have always believed that above all else, the counseling relationship is the fundamental aspect of effective mental health care.  Trust and comfort is foundational in the client/clinician relationship.    

However, this isn’t my original idea.  As American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic approach in psychology, Carl Rogers is often credited as an early advocate of the counseling relationship and an empathetic way of being. 

I utilize, (what I call), a “conversational approach.”  Clients find that conversations with me are beneficial for sparking new ideas for making changes in their lives.  I offer an environment for client growth by seeking to genuinely understand my clients’ experiences and express what is needed for positive change and healing.  

Though I would not say that I strictly follow one theoretical approach (though I do greatly appreciate Rogers), I do resonate with a few different approaches.  With training and experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), as well as Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness techniques, and Internal Family Systems (IFS), I pull from what is needed for each client.  I utilize various approaches and adapt what is needed to suit the needs of each individual.  

But above all else, it’s My Way of Being that clients relate to and appreciate most, not the years of training or expertise in various modalities.  Clients have told me that they find our therapy sessions to be unique, healing, beautiful, powerful, and healing.  More than anything, it’s the therapeutic rapport and our genuine relationship that promotes great change and healing.

If this sounds like the type of therapy you’d like to explore, please feel free to learn more at my website at and complete a New Client Inquiry Form to set up your complimentary consultation call.  

January 18, 2023

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