Dr. Amy Fehlberg wants to listen
September 4, 2009
Knowing she can help people cope with the difficulties of life is what gets Amy Fehlberg out of bed in the morning.
After years of working with people of all ages and backgrounds on mental health issues, Fehlberg said she’s still inspired by the strength of the human spirit.
"Helping a person heal is healing to the person helping that to occur," she said.
That’s why Fehlberg decided to open a private practice in Snyderville late last month. After working at the Colby School as director for years and with Valley Mental Health, she decided open her services up to a wider range of patients.
Fehlberg said she loves working with families, couples, and individuals of all ages. Her time at a school has made her really good with children. They deal with many of the same issues as adults, she said, but lack the vocabulary to describe their feelings as well.
All humans have an intense need to make meaningful connections with others. If something in you is interfering with those connections, she said, all other problems in life will be magnified. All people also need to feel safe, self-confident and that if they fall, loved ones will be there to help pick them back up.
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Her time in schools also makes her adept at testing children to help parents know them better.
"It’s important to understand where problems are coming from," she said. "If you understand how information is coming in, that can help you work on getting it to come out."
In addition to testing for conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder, she can also assess intelligence, memory and processing, and personality. The more we know about ourselves, she said, the easier time we have getting along with others.
Fehlberg said the way she interprets the challenges her clients face is informed from a psychodynamic point of view, but the advice she gives is based on what she thinks an individual can change. She describes it as a "coaching" approach.
So many circumstances in life are out of our control, but we can always choose our attitude, she said.
"People who embrace that end up having the happiest lives," she added.
Sometimes that even means ignoring problems. Every person is endowed with a limited amount of energy. We must all choose the best ways to invest that energy. If that means ignoring our difficult co-worker so we can focus on improving our relationship with an in-law, then that’s an important, although difficult, decision, she said.
And positive change is something we’re all capable of if we work at it. That’s part of what she finds so inspiring in her clients. She’s seen many women and children who have suffered from different types of abuse work through their suffering and become successful people in all areas of their life, she explained.
Fehlberg said she doesn’t charge for the first meeting so she can find out what problems a person is dealing with and share what she thinks an appropriate course of action is. A therapist-patient relationship is a real relationship and they must be a good fit, she said.
It’s useful for people to look at mental health as any other type of consumer good. People should shop around and find a therapist that best meets their needs. For that reason, Fehlberg said, she may not treat every client who walks in her door, and that’s OK. Therapy for each individual should be different, she said.
Amy Fehlberg, Ph.D.
1777 Sun Peak Dr. Suite F