Standard methodologies Used
As you will see in my descriptions below, my approach tends toward a combination of factors from each therapy modality, as tailored to the needs of each individual.
Cognitive Behavioral therapy, the most utilized and well-known approach, finds its way into my work through sound endorsement of the belief that how we think about something absolutely impacts how we feel about it and consequently, what we choose to do with those feelings. Understanding how to manage distortions, including those that have evolved over a lifetime, is imperative in doing deeper therapeutic work, particularly as it relates to relationships, family of origin issues, and topics related to attachment.
While I offer the skills to guide you in a deep exploration of your past, the fundamentals of personality formation, behaviors and attachment, I am also committed to helping you achieve your goals in the simplest, most time-efficient way, per your wishes. And I will discuss with you what I see when we meet, together deciding our approach around what you are hoping to achieve and to what degree. Utilizing solution focused therapy; a brief solution-focused approach, may be exactly what you are seeking and the most appropriate modality, depending. We can explore this together.
Though commonly utilized in substance abuse and addiction treatment, the fundamentals of motivational interviewing are often found in my work as I challenge clients around their desire and motivation to change.
My approach with you will employ an Object Relations methodology insofar as the relationship between us will invariably serve in facilitating insight into your relationship style and preference. How we relate to each other will be generative in providing a safe and trusting experience (rehabilitative when one’s ability to trust has been weakened) while also acting as a mirror; indeed we come to understand ourselves in relation to others.
My use of psychodynamic theory stems from the importance I place on past experiences and family of origin factors in both personality development and life orientation. I see a strong relationship between how past events un-dealt with, can negatively impact a person’s future and that exploring this with specific intent is often imperative to healing. I also believe that awareness of our defense mechanisms, what they represent, and how they impede us in getting our needs met, is key.
The role of attachment theory in my work primarily includes exploration of what occurred in your early years and how your experiences with attachment affects your capacity to trust and underlying behaviors in interpersonal relationships, now. This is explored in the interest of determining where there might be deficits so as to identify what will be required in healing them.
Though my approach is not exclusively one theoretical approach over another, my general orientation towards our work could be considered humanistic in nature. In this, I am interested in learning about and understanding your subjective experiences, and more importantly, in helping you to do so. I believe strongly in a person’s inherent potential for self-determination and self-actualization. Accordingly, my goal is to help you in strengthening your sense and acceptance of self, in developing an understanding of where you have been and how this has shaped you, in determining who you would like to be and how to navigate your world accordingly, and in helping you develop the skills necessary to do so. And, to do so in a collaborative, equal shares partnership where we are working together in this endeavor.
In our exploration of your present life circumstances (and feelings associated), I will also be interested in understanding the dynamics of your life growing up, inviting you to connect with your inner child and develop an awareness of what was felt by him or her in these early life experiences. Herein, we will begin to learn about your authentic self and how this person has been compromised over the years. We will explore dysfunctional relational patterns that evolved when you were a child and that are impeding your having happy and successful relationships now. Accordingly, we will learn about how and when your inner child runs your life —and particularly, to your detriment. In so doing, we will begin to differentiate between child-like behaviors that are disempowering and destructive, and adult behaviors that put you back in the driver’s seat of your own life.
An Underlying Orientation… A word on healing
It is my belief that healing happens through getting vulnerable; being willing to tell the truth about the bad things that have happened and that have hurt, to a safe person in a safe place, where there is trust that one won’t be judged. It involves developing an understanding of how our present dysfunction is in fact a function of early life experiences where needs went unmet and in so doing, liberating ourselves from shame that was never ours to carry. And, it involves developing love and compassion for what has occurred while making an equal commitment to change. In this, healing also happens by changing behaviors that are not serving.
It happens through a mutual revealing between client and therapist wherein the human experience is acknowledged for what it is (and the hurt that it incurs when basic needs go unmet.) It understands that to really honor this truth and be liberated from it means also allowing the feelings that accompany it to really be felt, and that this is part of the exchange. Also, that the relationship between client and therapist is, in and of itself, healing.
It understands that engaging in a trusting relationship with a therapist is a first step to rebuilding a lost ability to trust. And that this is accomplished through the therapeutic relationship; a client experiences new trusting experiences with a therapist who demonstrates consistency and trustworthiness, thereby restoring his or her belief that trusting again is possible. Accordingly, as per David Richo’s Book, Daring to Trust, “When we open to others, take the risk of trusting, and are not disappointed, we are, in effect, newly parented.”
And as final piece, healing happens through dignifying what was lost through exploration of redemptive acts; exploring what is needed now as to dignify what wasn’t had before.
Herein, happiness comes from finally getting clear about what is wanted, disentangling the self from situations (and behaviors) that are disempowering, and reclaiming the power that is needed, to go and get whatever that is.
What to expect
I think one of the most common and perhaps discouraging misconceptions about psychotherapy is in regards to what it’s supposed to do. Those who have done it and have had a positive, meaningful experience will probably attest to the fact that it helps and that they feel better. Why they feel better, though, is important to consider. In a tender recount of the therapeutic experience from the therapist’s point of view, Lillian Rubin, author of The Man with the Beautiful Voice, wrote the following in her book:
“I don’t mean he became a different person. Despite the public press and our wish that we could do it, therapy doesn’t transform anyone. We leave therapy changed only in that we have a better understanding of who we are and how to deal with the troubled and troubling parts of ourselves. But knowing itself, important though it may be, is not enough to enable us to live life more productively. It’s what we do with the knowledge, how we manage to live with the scars life inevitably leaves, that counts. For no matter how long we’re in therapy, no matter how much we learn there, old scars will bleed when picked and new issues will arise to push us back into old responses. A successful therapy leaves us able to deal with both in a new and more fruitful way.”
I think this is an invaluable distinction and one I subscribe to. I will help you learn how to be the “you” that you want to be, to understand the you that you already are, and how to navigate whatever it is that you determine is important for your life. And I will do so with an understanding and expectation that although we will work through painful topics, that insights will be gained and behaviors will change… that troubling things will still occur and that things once painful, will remain so. But, that in your strengthening of yourself, your understanding of what is, and your skills to manage it, you will do so differently than you might have before. And, I will lovingly hold you accountable to the changes your insights imply need making, empowering you to take the lead on how fruitful and effective your therapy is going to be.