Hello, my name is Krystal Smith. Thank you for looking more deeply into my bio! I conceptualize cases from an existential-humanistic perspective, which means that when we have sessions, I will be looking for clues as to what seems to be repeatedly resurfacing for you as being most important at this stage of your life and what barriers might be interfering with that. Once we have agreed on this, we can collaborate to help you articulate goals. What do you want to change by going to counseling? After having this in-depth understanding, we can determine which therapeutic interventions might work well. I tend to use family systems therapy and emotion-focused couples therapy as well as person-centered, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavioral therapy. Each session we have together is a safe space for you to explore your unique feelings and perspectives and to help take some of the weight of the world off your shoulders.
As a child, I was repeatedly drawn to movies and television shows that had stories about counseling. I was fascinated by how talk therapy could help to heal the mind. My friends and I played “mental health clinic” and I got to play the part of the shrink. When it was time for me to go to college, computer science seemed like an interesting newer field and a good way to make a living. Near the end of a 30-year career in software development, my father passed away suddenly. At this existential crisis point, realizing that life is short I thought to myself, “If there is something you want to do, you should do it now.” Since I found myself thinking about how the brain works on most days, I began studying Psychology and after earning my BA decided to study for an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. During another existential crisis that happened when my daughter was accepted to Juilliard at the same time that Seattle was undergoing a homelessness crisis, I decided to add an MS in Human & Social Services to my repertoire. Working in “housing first” in Seattle helped me to feel that I was contributing to a solution and helping those most in need in the community. After several years of counseling and after Covid was ending, I decided to move back to Illinois to be near my family of origin and continue in the field of counseling.
I always ask clients what form of spirituality they learned as a child because this is part of what forms the core of each human being. When clients re-participate in this original form of spirituality from childhood, it can oftentimes be a great comfort as an adult. Sometimes, individuals and couples become involved in newer forms of spirituality that they tend to utilize which is just as effective. During therapy sessions, I sometimes reflect what clients say through their own spiritual lens, and it can help to gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The current standard of practice in psychotherapy today for mental health disorders includes both counseling and medication. There have been time periods in history where only one or the other was recommended. Sometimes medications can help a client proceed through counseling more effectively. I usually tell clients that they can visit their primary care practitioner to ask for assessments and medications for anxiety and depression if they feel it would help them.
It is important for me to know whether a client is taking a psychotropic medication so that I can observe in therapy how it might be working. Sometimes, especially at the beginning of taking medications, clients need to revisit their doctors for dosages to be tweaked. Another thing I usually discuss with clients is that medication effectiveness usually takes a few weeks and medication side effects usually last for a few weeks and then disappear or are minimal. This is important to discuss so that medications are not ruled out prematurely.
Psychotropic medications are sometimes taken short term and sometimes taken long-term depending on whether the client has a chronic condition. This is something that is repeatedly evaluated between a client and their doctor during regular check-ups.