What is Hermeneutic Phenomenology?

These two words can look a little intimidating, and trying to look them up on Wikipedia might not provide a good, clear answer as to what these things are and how they relate to therapy. However, I think they are an important part of the therapeutic process, and it’s worth knowing what they are and where they come from.

Hermeneutics is the study of context, initially applied to texts. Essentially, the idea is that a hermeneutic understanding of, say, To Kill a Mockingbird, comes from knowing the cultural context of the piece. Stories become more powerful when you understand the folded-in meanings and layers of life contained in the language used to describe events.

Phenomenology is the study of the subjective experience, a qualitative look at what an experience feels like on an individual level. In other words, it’s about looking at what it feels like to be you.

When used together, a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to therapy is a way of finding meaning in and making meaning out of an individual’s unique experience of life. It’s one in which language is used to build and explore context, all while examining your individual experience of the situation.

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What are the benefits of in-home sessions vs in-office sessions?

In-home therapy provides a view of daily living that one simply can’t get from meeting in an office. When meeting in the home, I’m more able to see the way you interact with your surroundings, and sometimes just as importantly, the way your surroundings interact with you. This is particularly useful when working with families in conflict. It can feel strange at first, but I have seen amazing change come from meeting in the home instead of meeting in the office.

Why does in-home therapy cost more?

In-home therapy costs more because of the amount of time it takes to get from my office to your home. Additionally, the cost of maintaining a vehicle must be taken into consideration. However, most families who participate in in-home therapy find that the additional cost is well worth it when they are able to learn and apply principles in their home environment.

What if someone wants to talk with you about our work? 

If a situation arises in which I would need to speak to a school, a place of employment, or a hospital, I would need to receive permission from the client (you) before I could even acknowledge that we are seeing each other in a therapeutic capacity, let alone answer specific questions related to the work we are doing. This permission can be obtained through a signed release of information (ROI) form. Each ROI includes a section that details the exact nature of the information that can be shared with a specified outside party, and anything outside of that permission is kept strictly confidential. This is particularly important in issues of family, meaning that I am not allowed to share information with partners or parents of children over a certain age (13 years of age in the State of Washington) without the express written permission of the client for such a conversation to take place.

It is important to note that I am a mandated reporter in the State of Washington. This means that if someone is hurting you, or if you have plans to hurt yourself or someone else, I am required by law to take action to keep you and other people safe, even if I need to act without your permission. In such instances, I will discuss my plan with you when possible before acting.