Abby Irwin, MPS

Abby Irwin, MPS

1 employee
1 years in business

About this pro

I provide individual counseling and art therapy to anyone looking for a path to self-actualization and integration of their inner and outer worlds. I emphasize focus on the individual as a person with strengths and challenges, rather than focusing on pathology. I also have knowledge and training in psychiatric disorders for clients who feel more comfortable approaching their treatment within the structure of diagnostic criteria. I am able to customize my style of working case by case with individual needs and preferences.

I also feel it's important to make therapy available to everyone who needs it, so I work on a sliding payment scale and connect through telephone or web platforms (e.g. instant messaging or webcam).  

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is my main theoretical standpoint. It focuses on behavioral analysis and psychological flexibility. This is accomplished by focusing on strengths, coming to accept and feel in control of life's challenges, by recognizing both negative and positive emotional experiences. This is not in order to eliminate bad feelings, but to acknowledge them for integration so one can move forward constructively. ACT also includes practical aspects of building coping skills and support systems. My style also incorporates techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which are strongly evidence-based approaches. This can include reality checking and verbal processing of everyday experiences, but I also prompt clients to think from a deeper perspective to develop the ability to reframe thought processes. This helps them view issues in new ways and promotes transformations that allow them to form a stronger sense of identity and self agency. 

It is the greatest privilege to be part of the healing process of another person who trusts me when they are feeling most vulnerable. What is most fulfilling is when I can sense or even see the relief in the affect or energy of the client, which can come just from being heard, or from gaining new insights and possibilities through the therapeutic process. I also enjoy when an adult is skeptical about participating in art therapy, but if they show interest in trying, by the end of the session they report that it was the most powerful and cathartic experience they have ever had in treatment. Art is for everyone! 

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Philadelphia, PA 19106
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What is your typical process for working with a new customer?

It's most important to find out about the individual's reasons for seeking treatment in their own words. I want to know the fundamentals like what bought them to therapy, their goals and what challenges they want to overcome. It's also important for me to get a feel for a client's style of communication so I can have an awareness of a person's sensitivities and how to both directly and gently address concerns.

Knowledge of personal history is important, but I also focus on the here-and-now in order to help clients manage the stress of their reality in the moment. This can be especially important when working with clients who are processing trauma.

I also emphasize boundaries in terms of confidentiality and disclosure agreements to instill trust and confidence. It's very important to establish a feeling of safety and open channels of communication in the therapeutic relationship from the beginning.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I hold a Master's degree in clinical psychotherapeutic techniques, with thet unique added focus on Art Therapy and Creativity Development. The creative process is an optional tool based on each client's interests. My training includes intensive practicum and field work in counseling in various settings with diverse populations. My main strengths have been assisting people struggling with mood disorders, anxiety, cognitive disorders, substance misuse/abuse disorders, grief/bereavement, and trauma.

My experience includes working in a psychiatric/behavioral health hospital with people of all ages and all diagnoses. I also worked in a public school setting, counseling students who experience intellectual and emotional challenges and have various trauma histories.

I am experienced in facilitating therapy one-to-one and for groups. I have completed extensive coursework and closely supervised training in psychotherapy under highly regarded, licensed professionals within the scope of mental health counseling theories and practices. The diversity of my training, modalities, and field experience augments my skills and knowledge as a psychotherapist/creative arts therapist. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your services? If so, please share the details here.

My flat fee is $60 per hour for remote services, and I am able to work with clients on a sliding scale based on individual needs. I offer a free introductory call to provide clients with the opportunity to sense if we might be the right fit.

My services are unique because there is so much flexibility with phone and internet counseling, including the ease of making secure payments through venmo or paypal. It also makes it much easier for me to work on a sliding payment scale with people who have tight budgets, so do not hesitate to discuss that with me.

How did you get started in this business?

The lifelong natural traits and sensitivities of my personality simply evolved into a career. I declared a psychology major in college and eventually moved on to graduate school for mental health counseling and art therapy. I could never find fulfillment in a career where I wasn't able to help others in meaningful ways, so working as a therapist is a need as much as a desire.

What types of customers have you worked with?

I have worked with diverse populations of all ages as a psychotherapist and my specialization is in art therapy. I'm especially skilled at working with clients who have mood disorders, struggle with self-esteem, stress or anxiety, ADD/ADHD, body image issues or eating disorders, attachment conflicts, trauma histories, and/or struggle with substance abuse.

I make the tools of art-making available as a complementary means of communication, problem solving, and avenue of self discovery. It works especially well for adults who are unsure how to express themselves in words. Art Therapy is not about being a skilled artist. It is about using the creative process to bridge communication barriers in order to uncover unconscious material to address in the recovery process.

If a client is not interested in the creative process, I am also experienced in traditional talk therapy/counseling and would be happy to work with them from that angle as well.

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

Last year I began volunteering at a farm sanctuary, which I discovered has extraordinary therapeutic effects in similar ways as those experienced in art therapy and traditional psychotherapy.

Nonverbal/intuitive communication with the animals, visual observation, mindfulness and presence, a connection with nature, and sensory experiences all encompass what is involved in art therapy. As a result of this, I have begun to develop a new therapeutic modality which includes eco-therapy, art therapy, and animal assisted therapy. I am excited to see where it leads as the practice continues to develop.

What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a pro in your area of expertise?

Look for someone authentic, honest, and sincere, who lets you feel like you can be yourself. We all have a style and personality of our own which will influence our therapeutic presence, just as you are your own unique person. If you find you are struggling to connect, it is okay to move on and try working with someone else until you find the right fit. I recommend searching for someone who is warm and gentle in their communication style, but also direct and honest so that the process is clear and constructive. It is also helpful if you find someone who can provide psychoeducation along with emotional support.

What questions should customers think through before talking to pros about their needs?

What made you decide to seek counseling? What are your biggest fears aspirations? What do you look for most in a person to help you trust them to give you the right kind of support? What sensitivities do you have that are important for the therapist to understand right away? 

If you are lost and don't even know what to ask, that is okay. It's my job to help you get there!