Samantha Wagner, Ph.D.
Samantha Wagner, Ph.D.
Finding a therapist who is the right match for you or someone you love is an important decision. It’s normal to be a little hesitant and oftentimes making first contact is the scariest part! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me and the services I can provide.
I am a generalist by training, meaning that I have worked with individuals across the lifespan, families, couples, and groups. I have also worked with a wide range of issues from managing everyday stressors through working with co-morbid or serious mental illness. As such, I both know the importance of finding what works for each person and am well trained to be able to do so. I have extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy (Couple and Individual), as well as many other integrative approaches. Throughout therapy, I encourage and provide opportunities to obtain feedback and input from my clients.
Engaging in a meaningful and value-driven life can be challenging and at times we feel lost in the uncertainty of our decisions, ourselves, or our relationships. I approach therapy in a way that acknowledges that everyone's path to obtaining a fulfilling and successful life looks different and that progress in therapy is based on understanding and respect for each person, exactly as they are. I take an empathic approach that seeks to find a balance between acceptance and change so that we can make meaningful progress towards whatever goals you define.
Special Areas of Expertise:
Individual Therapy with Adults - together we will first seek to understand the issues that are bothering you and the personal strengths that you already have. Through this process and to help guide our efforts, I will help you establish obtainable goals for therapy that can be continually revisited, revised, or added to as we progress. I aim to first provide symptom relief and “put out fires.” Then, if you choose, we will dive into deeper work that helps challenge long-held patterns (such as avoidance) that were likely exceptionally helpful at some point but have since continued to cause problems or strife. Throughout the process we will work together to ensure that each session is in service of helping you obtain the life you want to lead.
Couples - in our romantic relationships we often feel heightened emotions - both the pleasant and the uncomfortable. Unfortunately, in our very busy lives, these can also be the relationships we forget to prioritize and can be the people we hurt or who hurt us the most. I work with a wide-range of couples issues from those looking to rekindle a flame or deal with intimacy challenges to those who have experienced betrayal traumas. I also have training in working with issues related to aging and illness in our partnerships. Throughout graduate school my research focused on couples-related issues and my doctoral dissertation emphasized couple-related processes that impact relationship satisfaction. Even the strongest of couples can often benefit from finding new ways to interact and hear each other so that their relationship becomes a priority again. I work with all types of couples including dating, married, divorced or co-parenting, monogamous, poly-amorous, and LGBTQ+.
Families - our families can be our biggest source of support and one of our greatest sources of strife. Oftentimes, we hurt those we love in our families due to individual challenges and sensitivities we have. I work with families, especially those with older or adult children, who want to heal and decide how to move forward. I emphasize learning how to hear each other and how to best articulate our needs in order to facilitate a more empathic and validating environment in which each member feels heard and accepted and where boundaries are respected. I also define “family” however you define it. This can include nuclear family, extended family, blended families, and found families.
Aging - unique changes come along with aging. Topics related to growing older are often not addressed or can feel stigmatizing. However, living a long life also necessitates changes and challenges. I work with older adults on better understanding and managing the changes that come including those related to health concerns, navigating decreased mobility or independence, and other kinds of loss such as death of loved ones or of identity-defining careers. Continually moving towards a value-driven life does not stop as we age. I seek to help older-adults find ways to engage with their values. Age-related changes do not have to only mean losses but can also be an amazing time for growth.
End of Life Issues - If you or someone you love are experiencing end-of-life issues, whether through normal aging or terminal or degenerative illness, facing mortality can be jarring and filled with uncertainty or dread. We are often met with questions related to the meaning of life, what happens after death, or regrets for decisions we did or did not make. We can also often feel isolated in not being sure who we can talk to or may feel as if we are a burden to others with these types of questions. On this journey, I stand beside you to be a space for any and all of these questions. I can help you feel less alone and facilitate you feeling more sure in your decisions along the way. We may even discover answers to questions you didn’t know you had.
Young Adults and Older Adolescents - As we begin to enter into adulthood we often face questions of who we are and what we want out of life as well as how we can possibly do any of this on our own. I work with older adolescents and young adults to help address these questions, to clarify values, and to build self-esteem and resilience. At this age, it can feel like you have a mountain to climb with no hiking gear. However, I will work with you to take one step at a time and ensure that you are using your values as a compass for each next step. Before you know it, we will likely be miles into our climb.
Emotional Functioning and Uncertainty/Anxiety - Regardless of how old you are or what challenges you are facing, we all have times when we struggle to manage our emotions or feel overwhelmed by uncertainty or anxiety. Oftentimes our response to this is to feel as if our emotions either take control of us or we stuff them down and avoid them altogether. Both responses are normal and both responses can be equally unhelpful if used over an extended period of time. Emotions provide such an important piece of information and we can get lost if we don’t feel them at all or they are so big that they take over everything. Uncertainty, on the other hand, often means that we have two conflicting important things or are facing a barrier we feel stuck behind. I work extensively with my clients to help them have a healthier relationship with their emotions and to clarify what is important to them so that they can trust themselves to make the decisions that are most important to them.
Interpersonal Effectiveness - having tough conversations, establishing clear boundaries, and creating mutually satisfying relationships (personal or professional) can be hard-work. Together, we can work together to define your interpersonal strengths and bolster or add to those to help you become more effective and confident in your relationships. When doing this work, we will focus on building social and interpersonal effectiveness skills. Emphasis is often placed on communication skills, emotion regulation, establishing and reinforcing boundaries, and making informed decisions about the relationships we want to keep in our lives. I also help each client work to understand their own vulnerabilities and points of sensitivity to facilitate a deeper insight into why certain relationships or conversations may be harder than others.
I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Binghamton University in 2021 and have been conducting therapy for 5+ years. I completed my doctoral internship at The Faulk Center for Counseling, which is a community mental health center that provided me training in working across the lifespan with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Both my graduate training and my internship experience are APA accredited. I obtained my Masters in Psychology also from Binghamton University and my Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in business from Canisius College. I am currently working under the supervision of Dr. Jeanne Peterson while I obtain hours for licensure.
My areas of research expertise relate to couples and dating and include work on attachment, relationship satisfaction, physical touch, intimacy, sexuality, as well as work on intimate partner violence and sexual assault. I also have a substantial research background in issues specific to aging in romantic relationships and sexuality.