Therapist Spotlight Melissa Benedict, MA, LPC, NCC

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in trauma-focused therapy and issues related to child welfare, including adoption, foster care, grief and loss, separation from loved ones, etc. I also commonly see and treat issues related to anxiety and depression. I primarily utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is an evidence-based practice that helps clients to understand the ways their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect each other, and exploring how changing one of these can change the others. I also utilize Strength-based Solution-Focused therapy. This is a way of helping clients see the lessons they have learned from their past experiences, identify their strengths, and apply these things to their current challenges. However, I try to be flexible to meet the needs of each individual client, so my techniques will vary as needed.

What do you think is important about your role as a therapist?

I feel my role as a therapist is to empower clients to have the confidence and skills to get them where they want to be. I also offer additional tools, resources, and insights that clients can add to their arsenal of coping skills to help them meet their own needs. I often use the analogy of being a coach for clients, similar to any good sports coach, because I cannot do the work for the client, but I can help guide them through it.

How do you help people, in your opinion?

I help people by being someone they can trust and talk to. I try to be open, supportive, non-judgmental and give clients a safe space to explore and express themselves. Evidence shows us that the most influential factor in therapy is the therapeutic relationship between a client and the counselor, and this is a driving force in my practice. By building a safe, supportive, and trusting relationship with a client, I know I can help them reach their goals.

What is something that you wish people knew about your specialty, or about therapy in general?

I wish people knew that therapy is not magic. It is not like taking a pill and instantly feeling better. I do not “fix” people. Therapy is a process that helps people grow and learn over time. With dedication, exploration, and practice, people learn new skills and new ways of thinking, and eventually start to feel better. I am less like a doctor and more like a coach.

I also want people to know that everyone can benefit from therapy. I think therapy teaches us skills we all need that school never taught us, such as how to effectively cope with your feelings, how to better communicate with other people, and how to work through a problem. Therapy and mental health can have such a stigma attached to them, but the truth is therapy is just another way to help us improve ourselves, just like going to the gym or eating a healthy diet.

Name an influential person or experience in your life.

It is so difficult to pick just one! I have been influenced greatly by my former supervisors. They taught me so much about being person-centered, being aware of myself, and the ways my own experiences affect my counseling. I think an influential experience in my life was providing therapy for children in foster care in Detroit for two and a half years. Through that experience, I learned a lot about resiliency, strength, adaptation, love, and family.

Melissa Benedict is located at our Great Lakes Psychology Group – Livonia office. To learn more about Melissa, please visit her therapist profile.

Melissa Benedict, MA, LPC, NCC