Dr. Cristina M. Andriani, PhD, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Serving the greater Worcester area

ONLINE COUNSELING AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE







Hello and Welcome

If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering taking a step towards reaching out for help to get through whatever it is that you are going through. I am here to help. I can be that support, that sounding board, that coach, that person that has no ulterior motives, or vested interest in anything other than helping you get to a better space.

If you do decide to seek help, this does not mean that you are crazy. Approximately one third of people in the US will turn to counseling at some point in their lives. Most of these people are “normal” people, struggling with “normal” life stresses, who would like the support to deal better with these things. Sometimes it’s relationship problems, sometimes it’s life transitions, sometimes it’s career, or parenting issues. For others, they want to change a specific behavior, or want to gain insight into specific thoughts or feelings that are troubling to them. Sometimes, people just want to get an outside perspective on a difficult situation.

Therapy is different than talking to friends or family. My job isn’t to give you advice, but rather to help you figure out what is right for you in a non-judgmental, safe, and confidential environment. What is right for you will vary from person to person, so there is no cookie cutter approach to the therapeutic relationship and the counseling I provide.








Four metaphors: The purposes of counseling:

Therapy can be useful in different ways. I use four metaphors to describe the most common approaches people take to counseling:

1. The emergency room: Some seek out therapy when there is a crisis, in order to get through the crisis in the best way they can, the same way you would visit the emergency room to receive emergency medical services. Typically this type of counseling is problem-focused and solution oriented.

2. Physical therapy: Some people see counseling as a way to help you heal after a crisis. Counseling is used to work through the repercussions of the crisis in order to avoid the development of permanent unhealthy behaviors or thoughts, the same way physical therapy is used after an injury has occurred to allow the muscles to redevelop and strengthen adequately.

3. Chiropractic care: If you have ever worked with a chiropractor, you would know you may start with a fairly regular set of visits to adjust your back, but as your back improves, the visits become less and less frequent, until they are only on an as needed basis to fix minor slip ups. Counseling can serve that function as well: it can help you change things (thoughts/behaviors) that need to change until you only need to check in once in a while to sustain the level of wellness you have achieved.

4. Personal trainer: For some, counseling can be a tool for personal growth. You could work in counseling towards becoming a better version of yourself, to reach a certain level of wellbeing or to learn a specific set of skills that will help you in the future. A personal trainer works with you on a regular basis to help you challenge yourself to achieve the health goal you have set for yourself or to prepare for a sports event.






Individual (Adult and child)

Individual counseling is a personal opportunity to receive support and experience growth during challenging times in life. Individual counseling can help one deal with many personal topics in life such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage and relationship challenges, parenting problems, school difficulties, career changes etc. (American Counseling Association)


Couples

Every couple experiences ups and downs in their levels of closeness and harmony over time. This can range from basic concerns of stagnation to serious expressions of aggressive behavior. Marriage counseling or couples counseling can help resolve conflicts and heal wounds. Overall, couples counseling can help couples slow down their spiral and reestablish realistic expectations and goals. (American Counseling Association)


Family

Family therapy is often sought due to a life change or stress negatively affecting one or all areas of family closeness, family structure (rules and roles) or communication style. This mode of counseling can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it is best to see an entire family together for several sessions. Common issues addressed in family counseling are concerns around parenting, sibling conflict, loss of family members, new members entering the family, dealing with a major move or a general change affecting the family system. (American Counseling Association)






Positive Parenting Program (Triple P)

The Triple P — Positive Parenting Program is for parents of children from birth to 12 years. It is delivered in 4 individual sessions over a 4-6 week period, each session lasting 30 minutes to an hour. Sessions can include your spouse, partner, or co-parent — that is up to you. It is an international program that has helped thousands of families worldwide and across the US by making parenting easier and more enjoyable. Triple P helps take the guesswork out of parenting by offering strategies to help parents handle challenging behaviors (such as temper tantrums, bedtime/mealtime struggles, homework and chores, lying and swearing, disobedience, aggression and more). Triple P also helps parents learn new skills to reduce the stress of parenting, set realistic expectations, balance work and family, feel more confident, and take time for themselves.

For more information, you can call me or visit (612) 677-2040.


Online counseling/coaching

Research suggests that online counseling is at least as effective as traditional in-office therapy. Some of the benefits of online counseling (in this case, specifically video conferencing) are the ability to attend sessions from the comfort of your home, no travel time or concerns with location, and more flexible hours. In my experience, video-conferencing clients are sometimes able to open up more because they are in their safe space, sometimes talking to me in their comfort clothes, from their favorite chair, with pets nearby, with coffee and snack in hand. While there is no in-person contact, this is compensated for by people being able to share more of themselves and virtually having the therapist “in-home”.

There are a few limitations to online services. Online counseling is not adequate for those in crisis, and insurance plans frequently will not cover it (however I do work on a sliding fee scale).


Services also offered in French and Italian.







Dr. Cristina Andriani

When looking for a counselor, it is important that you find the right person for you. Ask yourself: How do I feel about this counselor? Do they seem comfortable and compatible? Do they have the experience and training to work with my specific problems? I am more than happy to have you call and ask me the questions you have to figure out if I am the right counselor for you. In the meantime, let me offer you some information that may be useful to you.

The Counseling Relationship

Working with a therapist for the first time can be an uncomfortable experience. Unlike going to the doctor’s office, where you are given a diagnosis and medicine to get better, in order for therapy treatment to be successful, your active participation is required. Research and clinical experience have confirmed that people who fully participate in the process make the most rapid gains. Therefore, in our counseling relationship, I will be asking you to work in partnership with me, to think about your problems in different ways, and often, to work at self-help assignments and activities on your own time in between sessions.

Furthermore, it is important that you understand that therapy is not a guarantee that your problems will be resolved. At times, it may be advisable to consider taking psychotropic medications prescribed by an M.D./D.O. psychiatrist, or to consider attending a support group, or seek alternate or additional resources, at which point I will help you find what seems most suited.


My counseling approach

I am eclectic – I use a variety of approaches. I don’t believe any one approach is best, but rather that the approach is determined by the type of problem or concern a person presents with and personality. I tend to use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (targeting specific problematic behaviors and thought patterns and emphasizing concrete techniques to change behaviors and thinking patterns) with children and adolescents because their thinking is usually very concrete. Cognitive Behavior Therapy also works well for depression, or adults that are looking to do brief solution-focused work. I tend to take a Psychoanalytic approach when working with trauma, families, or adults who are looking to understand themselves better, because it allows for an exploration of how the past impacts the present and interpersonal relationship dynamics. My training in conflict analysis and resolution is particularly helpful when I work with families or couples where we look at improving communication patterns and reducing conflict. I frequently introduce psycho-education into therapy when it seems that a new skill is needed for clients to achieve wellbeing. Finally, I use hypnosis on occasion, particularly with anxiety-based disorders. When appropriate, I will also use creative art therapy techniques.

My personality and style

I was born in the United States, grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and my family is Italian. My multi-national background has made me particularly sensitive to people’s cultures and value systems. I have lived in a variety of communities which has equipped me with the experience and knowledge to work comfortably with both “mainstream” and “alternative” people, whether it be in terms of culture, religion, or sexual orientation. I give credit to my Italian heritage for my warm and welcoming personality. I am expressive, empathic, funny (because humor does have a place in therapy), and creative. My counseling philosophy is that clients need to be understood as whole people within their context, and that their healing is a combination of teaching them the tools for a healthier life, honoring their strengths, empathizing with the difficulties they encounter, yet challenging them to grow in spite of obstacles.







Experience

I have been working as a counselor since 1997. I have worked in a variety of settings (inpatient, outpatient, residential, private practice, teleconferencing) and with a mix of populations (multi-cultural, LGBTQ, children, adolescents and adults) dealing with a multitude of issues (depression, anxiety, bipolar, substance abuse, anger management, trauma, adjustment stressors). I have a specialization in trauma-based disorders (PTSD, Dissociative Disorders, and Dissociative Identity Disorder). I have experience doing individual, couples, family and group therapy.

I currently work both in private practice and in a community clinic. Through the clinic I work in local schools, as well as providing consultations and speciality mental health services at a family medicine practice.







Education

PhD in Psychology (August 2013)
Clark University, Worcester, MA

MA in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (May 2009)
Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

MA in Marriage and Family Therapy (December 2000)
BS in Child and Family Studies (May 1998)
Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY


Credentials

Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor #8707 (January 2014)
Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor #8252 (March 2005)
Certified Hypnotherapist (May 2002)







Is therapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek guidance as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges and issues. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards personal change.


Do I really need therapy?

There’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it, even if you find that you have handled past difficulties without help. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.


How can therapy help?

Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values.
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships.
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy.
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety.
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures.
  • Improving communications and listening skills.
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones.
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage.
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence!






What is therapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. Usually we would discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. We would normally schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around forty or fifty minutes (depending on insurance coverage). Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth, and while we usually start with weekly sessions, sessions may eventually be spread out to every other week or monthly, depending on need. There may be times when you are asked to do ‘therapeutic assignments’ outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors, etc. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change, and create greater awareness in their lives.


Ok. I’m ready for therapy. How do I get started?

There are a few ways to go about setting up counseling. If you choose to go through your insurance, you may want to start by determining if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier. You will need answers to the following questions:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • Is there an out of pocket deductible?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • Do I have out of network benefits, and if so, how much does my insurance pay for an out of network provider?
  • Is approval or a referral required from my Primary Care Physician?

Once you have this information, you can obtain names of therapists in your area through your insurance by contacting member services. This will not usually provide you with a lot of information on the therapists themselves. There are also several web sites that advertise counselors, such as psychologytoday.com, where you can see profiles of counselors in your area, and the insurances they accept, as well as private pay rates. You may want to evaluate the counselor’s experience and training, their availability and schedule, the convenience of the location, and it is ok for you to contact them and ask questions to get a feel as to whether they will be a good fit for you or not.


Wait! What about confidentiality?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client. However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule: If I am a defendant in an action filed by the client or otherwise court ordered; when there is a clear and immediate probability of physical harm to the client or other individuals; and in cases of child abuse and neglect or in cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation of aged or disabled adults. If your insurance is being billed for sessions, then the information necessary to process claims and obtain authorization is disclosed to them.



Let's work to make things better!

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Call Dr. Andriani today!




Contact Address

Dr. Cristina M. Andriani, PhD

80 Worcester St, Suite 6

North Grafton, MA 01536

Phone: (774) 420 6808

Fax: (888) 974 1012

Email: c.andriani.lmhc@gmail.com