Melissa Fritchle (LMFT,MA)
I am going to admit something here; a lot of times I have fantasies about standing outside of movie theaters playing the most recent romantic flick and handing out my card to each person with stars in their eyes and that faraway look that walks out. I might happily do the same outside porn theaters, if they existed anymore. And both for the same reasons, because the messages the audiences are receiving about love and sex are not very helpful. In fact, they often make things much more difficult for those of us functioning and trying to have relationships in the real world. From our fictional romances, we learn a lot about falling in love and the wonder of the first kiss, the easy statements of commitment that has been untested. From porn, we learn some about the act of sex (if erections and flexibility come easily to you anyway) and unlimited desire. But when the curtain goes down or the DVD goes back in the mail, a lot of people are left feeling like they have no clue how to be in the relationship they are actually in and what to do with feelings that are a lot more complicated than they were prepared for.
Our intimate relationships ask a lot of us. They are going to touch scary places inside ourselves. They may bring out sides of ourselves that we don’t like very much and never expected to see. They require us to make hard choices, sometimes even sacrifices. They can inspire in us feelings of being broken and vulnerable in ways that other aspects of our life won’t even come close to. And our intimate relationships also fill us with love, belonging, and new levels of compassion and understanding for another person. They inspire us to risk. They provide us with an opportunity to do something different than what we saw in our families of origin. They allow us to experience trust and shared goals. They can be an incredible vehicle for teaching us about our self and therefore, for transformation, growth and even enlightenment.
Since I have been working with individuals and couples in my private practice and with students and fellow professionals in my Sex Education trainings and workshops, I have seen amazing moments of relief and healing that can come from having a safe place to talk and learn about these highly charged topics. And my work globally, as a volunteer sex educator and now as Psychotherapy Consultant for Therapists Without Borders, has shown me that we all struggle with and long for intimate connections. Traveling globally and talking about sex has exposed me to a wide range of practices, beliefs and myths that have made me a better therapist and a more open person. It has also highlighted for me that when I witness someone crying over lost love or betrayal, what I am witnessing is outside of a cultural context, it is a deeply human experience.
I believe it is possible to have deeply satisfying relationships. I believe it is possible to stay in love with someone for a long time, and to have exciting sex. But I think we need to talk honestly about all the stuff that gets in the way, including our fictional fantasies of what relationships and sex are supposed to be. I really enjoy helping couples and individuals open up about things they were afraid to voice or questions they were hesitant to explore and to find their way to the unique and evolving relationship that will work for them. And I am excited to join the YourTango community and to expand the conversation to include you.
The Reason I Became A Helping Professional
Now that I have arrived at the destination of Helping Professional, I guess I can look back and say that I have been on this road, in way or another, most of my life.
As a child, I was a voracious reader. I still am. I love the opportunity to step in to another’s perspective for awhile and to try and understand and feel into a life different than my own. I can see that my time spent as an undergrad English major was largely about my passion for hearing other people’s stories and, not just their stories, but also the unique way they chose to tell their story. I was able to delve into symbols and archetypes, myths and conflicting perspectives that shape the human desire to communicate. Each day in therapy I draw on these same skills, to hear the message beneath the story, to open my mind and heart to a different experience than my own, to find a point of connection and commonality.
My years as a massage therapist allowed me interact with people’s stories as well, but also with their physical selves, their goals and limitations, and their worries and hopes. My massage clients were athletes or people in chronic pain so I saw most of my clients weekly, similar to therapy, and was able to share the progression of their lives. I was with them through difficult times and celebratory times. I felt how their bodies and breath changed and reacted to their emotional lives. I observed that the physical benefits of the work I was doing with them was equaled by the benefits of being able to talk to someone who cared for them but was also uninvested in their decisions. I saw how I could help by listening, being a compassionate witness and engaging clients in the stories of their own lives.
So when I felt I had enough life experience myself and enough understanding of my own story, I decided to go to graduate school to become a holistic psychotherapist which has been a path that has called on a multitude of lessons learned. That is something I love about being a therapist, I truly feel that most any experience I have can enrich my ability to help, as it enriches my ability to understand. I am still passionate about hearing people’s stories but now I get to be active in my role as observer and listener. I honor the power of telling your own story and realizing that you can shape and change it. At any time, my clients are actively authoring their lives and I get to engage with them in that process. And we both get to use our whole lives as preparation for what happens now.
Between $81-120 per session