Dr. Bell-Pringle works with adults and adolescents who are at least 15 years of age. She uses different formats (i.e., individual therapy, couple's therapy, group therapy, or family therapy) depending on the specific needs of her clients.
Individual Psychotherapy: In individual psychotherapy, I meet one on one with a client. That person usually chooses a standard time during which we can meet. This time is reserved for that person weekly until he or she no longer needs the appointment time. Weekly appointments are often ideal for individual work because consistent contact allows the person to get connected and feel safe to address the issues at hand. Sometimes an individual client will be given "homework" or things to practice in between appointments. I work with both men and women and have expertise in working with anxiety disorders, depression, relational problems, addictions, childhood abuse, family of origin issues.
Couple's Psychotherapy: In couple's therapy, I meet either weekly or bi-weekly with two people who are in an intimate relationship with one another. I work with all couple relationships (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, married, live-in, dating, divorced) in which two people are interested in creating a positive path together. People choose their partners based on their own values and their history in prior relationships. All people have experienced wounds as a result of negative interactions with people in their lives such as family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. These experiences help influence who we choose to connect with and what expectations we have regarding our partners. Pairing-up in this fashion can be healing, but can also accidentally re-create some unpleasant relational dynamics. When this occurs, couples need a working system that allows them to identify the negative patterns, understand how each personí»s history may influence the pattern, and how to respond in such a way that promotes closeness rather than distance.
Substance Abuse Treatment: I work with clients who are wondering if they have a substance abuse problem; clients who know they have a problem, but are ambivalent about abstaining from substances; people who are interested in abstaining from substances, but are having difficulty doing this; and people who have been abstinent from substance use, but want to work on relapse prevention. I view substance abuse issues from several angles (e.g., attachment issues, behavioral contingencies, biological factors, emotional influences). My goal is to understand each individual's set of influences and help the person see how the use of substances is affecting him/her. This approach includes the exploration of the positive aspects of substance use as well as the negative aspects. My job is to help clients see the reality of their substance use, while also respecting each person's right to decide what is best for him/her regarding this issue. For those who are contemplating giving up their substance use, I recommend attending organized groups to help with this (i.e., treatment groups in private practice, inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment, church groups, 12-step groups like AA or NA). These groups can be helpful in supporting you in your goals and you do not have to agree with every aspect of a group format for it to help you.
Adolescent Psychotherapy: Adolescents are in a time of transition and fast-paced development. During this time in their lives, they are busy studying for school, creating their identities, forming friendship groups, becoming more adult in their activities (e.g., driving, working, caregiving), planning their futures, and entering into intimate relationships. At the same time, teens must cope with their bodies changing, which results in mood swings, needing more sleep, and having a lower tolerance for frustration. What can be difficult for parents during this time, is that teens often are trying to show their parents that they can do things on their own and do not need you. This makes it difficult sometimes for parents to get through. Sometimes it helps for an adolescent to have a place to process all that is happening away from their parents and their peer groups.
I often meet adults who went to psychotherapy as adolescents who said that it was a negative experience. After talking with many people who had a less than positive experiences, there were some clear themes. It turns out that people who were "forced" by their parents to go to therapy as adolescents often rebelled by not really talking in therapy about what was troubling them. In addition, all people who told me that they had a negative experience said that it was partially due to the therapist telling the parents what the teen was talking about in therapy. Those who reported a positive experience said that the decision to go to therapy was partly their decision and that the therapist maintained a boundary between the teen and his/her parents.
When I work with adolescents, I meet with their parents/caregivers first in order to gather information regarding their perspectives and their backgrounds. I do this so that I can understand some of the dynamics at play in the family and also to articulate the caregivers' perspectives at times with the teen. After this initial meeting with the parents, I meet with the adolescent alone. From then on, I do not talk to the parents without their child present, and I do not break the adolescent's confidentiality with me unless there is a danger to him/her, a danger to others, or reports of child abuse. Both the caregivers and/or the adolescent are able to call a family session if there are questions or problems that need to be addressed. I have found this approach to be very helpful to adolescents and caregivers alike.
Group Psychotherapy: Two of the main organizing themes in psychotherapy are:
(1) The majority of problems people have come from difficulties in relating to others.
(2) For therapy to be useful, it needs to be applied outside the therapy room.
Group therapy offers one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to learn and practice new ways of relating to yourself and others. Plus, participation helps remind people that they truly are not alone in their struggles. People join therapy groups for a lot of reasons. Some may be experiencing difficulties, while others are looking for personal growth. Group therapy provides a unique way to learn about oneself and one's relationships, and to give/receive support and feedback from others. For many types of problems, group therapy is the treatment of choice. Groups provide the opportunity to observe others solving their problems. Groups provide the advantage of a network of support. Groups are also especially helpful in building trust, self-acceptance, intimacy, communication skills and empathy.
Two published research articles combined the results of 32 studies that assessed the effectiveness of group therapy in comparison to individual treatment. The authors concluded that group therapy is either equally or more effective than individual treatment.
Tillitski, C. J., A meta-analysis of estimated effect sizes for group versus individual versus control treatments. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Vol 40(2), Apr 1990.
McRoberts, C., Burlingame, G. M., & Hoag, M. J. Comparative efficacy of individual and group psychotherapy: A meta-analytic perspective. Group Dynamics, Vol 2(2), Jun 1998.
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