Insight. Solutions. Empowerment.
Therapy is a collaborative process. I use many different approaches in working with clients, but I have several overarching goals for everyone who comes to see me:
Why seek therapy?
Each of us reaches various points in our life journey when we feel the need for a deeper understanding of our difficulties than we can gain alone. We seek guidance, support, facilitation, or new perspectives. At these times, we may consider professional services, especially when our usual modes of coping are failing us. Still, the decision to enter therapy can be a difficult one to make, and it is important to choose a psychotherapist whose perspective and approach fits for you.
What is therapy like?
Each therapeutic relationship is different. I always meet clients “where they are,” and this varies widely from person to person. Some people enter therapy seeking help for a specific, circumscribed problem, while others have a more vague sense that something is not quite right within or because they have a desire to simply learn more about who they are. Some clients want to learn to survive in life more effectively, while others are seeking to move from surviving to thriving.
In all cases, though, clients come to therapy because they want something to be different about the way their lives are going. I serve as a guide, shining a light in problem areas, highlighting the path, and teaching skills for successfully making it across the sometimes bumpy terrain of life. I cannot “fix” anyone and offer no magical “cures” to problems. Rather, I facilitate the development of the natural healing process inherent in every human being. Although I guide and facilitate, then, you must take responsibility for moving forward in your own healing, actively working both within and outside of session on the issues that bring you to therapy.
Knowledge is power
One basic premise of my work in therapy is that when we know more about a problem area, we have more choices about how to address it. Often, when we encounter a problem area in our lives, we do not have a full or deep understanding of what is causing it. We may think we know what the cause is at times, but when we try to “fix” it based on our current understanding, we find that our solutions are not working. This is usually a sign that we need to look elsewhere or more deeply for the root cause or causes, which are often unconscious. An objective professional can be extremely helpful in sorting through these issues.
Psychological symptoms point the way to problem areas in many cases, which brings clients into therapy. We experience the symptoms as troublesome, frustrating, fear-provoking, confusing, or in a host of other negative ways. But in truth, psychological symptoms are a means by which our unconscious minds let us know that something is amiss. They indicate to us that we are out of balance or not approaching life in an effective way. We experience them as painful and difficult, but they actually provide opportunities for us to work on areas that need our attention, which, in turn, opens up new doors for us and leads to the possibility of new ways of experiencing life.
The significance of the unconscious
So why focus on the unconscious causes of symptoms? Because if we were conscious of the specific reasons for our life difficulties, they would be simple to fix. We would automatically know what to do if we were aware of all of the variables involved. Our symptoms confuse us because so much is going on beneath the surface.
Psychotherapy helps bring the unconscious processes into conscious awareness so that we can work with them and actively address them. If we learn what the unconscious is communicating and experiencing, we have the information we need to come up with feasible solutions to our problems. In other words, we have more choices. Viable choices. And having more viable choices means we experience a greater sense of empowerment. If we understand what is wrong on a deep level, can see the path we need to take to address it, and have the skills and support we need to traverse that path, then we are truly empowered.
Working together in therapy
In therapy with me, the specific ways of working towards empowerment and consciousness will vary from client to client and at different points in therapy with the same client. Sometimes, support may be needed. Other times, the development of insight may be the main focus. Still other times, skill building may be emphasized most. Or these may all be combined in various ways at the same time. It all depends on you, your needs, and where you are when you seek services, as well as where you are as you shift and change over time.
Another important aspect of therapy is consideration of you as a whole person—mind, body, and spirit. All of these realms interact to produce your strengths, your struggles, and your typical ways of coping. Psychological difficulties do not occur in isolation, so therapy with me includes explorations of how you are taking care of your body and the human need to make meaning of life and experiences.