I provide individual adult (18+) psychotherapy, and couples therapy / marriage counseling.
I work with a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues providing services that span from therapy for depression and anxiety and grief counseling to stress management, couples counseling and beyond. In a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, I offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each of my client's individual needs to help attain the personal growth they’re striving for.
First, what is psychotherapy?
As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, psychotherapy "or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing."
That being said, it is important to note that one need not be on the brink of emotional collapse before "qualifying for" or being able to benefit from psychotherapy. For example, an otherwise mentally-healthy individual can benefit from short-term psychotherapy after, say, the loss of a loved one or a difficult relationship failure. Unlike the way some negative stigma of psychotherapy would have us believe, seeking mental health services is not a sign of weakness; rather, it signifies resolve of someone willing to take control of and responsibility for his/her overall quality of life. Anyone can benefit from psychotherapy, regardless of his/her level of mental health.
Psychodynamic / Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they appear in a person's present behavior. This type of therapy seeks to increase the client's self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior, also known as "transference." This approach helps the client to examine and unpack unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships and manifest themselves in the need and desire to continue unwanted and/or irrational behaviors.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is more structured, present-focused psychotherapy directed towards solving current problems by teaching clients methods to recognize and correct dysfunctional thinking, or cognitive distortions, which translate into unwanted behaviors. Cognitive distortions are challenged and then replaced with more accurate thoughts grounded in reality, and these new thoughts then foster more desirable behaviors and outcomes.
Mindfulness-based therapy uses cognitive methods and mindfulness exercises to interrupt the automatic processes that trigger anxiety and depression. This type of psychotherapy helps clients to recognize their sense of being and see themselves as separate from their thoughts and moods, thereby allowing them to break free from negative thought patterns and ensuing unwanted behaviors.
The human machine is quite complex and multifaceted. Sometimes knowing more about the mind and body's mechanics and chemical processes can illuminate paths to wellness previously unconsidered. Therefore, learning, for example, about the brain and how and why it functions the way it does can give an advantage in "hacking" the system and experiencing better outcomes. Psychoeducation can be very helpful when combined with other forms of psychotherapy to promote an overall, big-picture understanding of one's current condition.
Psychotherapy is often best accompanied by supplementary reading between therapy sessions. I will sometimes recommend books that I believe to be appropriate and edifying for a client's presenting condition and circumstances.
This type of psychotherapy is described well by Dr. Fredric Neuman:
Supportive psychotherapy attempts to help clients by any practical and appropriate means to deal with their emotional distress and problems in living. This can include, but is not limited to, comforting, advising, encouraging, reassuring, and mostly listening, attentively and sympathetically. The therapist provides an emotional outlet, the chance for patients to express themselves and be themselves. Also, the therapist may inform patients about their illness and about how to manage it and how to adjust to it. Over the course of treatment he may have to intercede on a patient's behalf with various authorities, including schools and social agencies, and with the patient's family, and really, with all of those with whom the patient may be contending.
Supportive psychotherapy can often "set the stage" for deeper and more rigorous therapies as the client improves.
Mainstream psychology has spent much of the last half-century primarily focused on psychopathology, that is, everything that is wrong with the human psyche. In 1998, Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association, announced that it was time to correct that imbalance by studying everything that goes right when humans are happy, thus giving life to "positive psychology." As outlined by Keyes and Haidt (2004), here are four of the major aims of Positive Psychology:
- Rise to life's challenges; make the most of setbacks and adversity
- Engage and relate to other people
- Find fulfillment in creativity and productivity
- Look beyond oneself and help others to find lasting meaning, satisfaction, and wisdom
As explained by the Positive Psychology Institute, "the field is intended to complement, not to replace traditional psychology. It does not seek to deny the importance of studying how things go wrong, but rather to emphasize the importance of using the scientific method to determine how things go right."
The psychotherapeutic modalities described above can alone do wonders for a client's mental health. However, it can be difficult for someone to make progress when in crisis or when engaged in a never-ending battle with unrelenting anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. In some cases, psychotropic or psychoactive medication can help to stabilize a person, allowing him or her to progress in psychotherapy. If deemed appropriate, and with permission from the client, I will refer a client out for evaluation for medication management.
Couples Therapy / Relationship Counseling / Marriage Counseling
Sometimes a couple hits roadblocks in their relationship that cannot seem to be talked out, no matter how many times each partner tries. Oftentimes it takes an objective third-party to assist in first finding the true source(s) of conflict and then facilitating and instructing a couple on how to heal and move on. When blinded by emotion, a person can lose sight of what he or she might be contributing to the temporary failure in communication. One role of the couples counselor is to create a non-judgmental environment in which each side can be heard, validated, and empowered to take responsibility to make the relationship whole again. In couples therapy / marital counseling, one can expect the following:
- Have ample opportunity to explain grievances
- Learn communication techniques which foster respect
- Learn skills to manage conflicts
- Learn to ask for what you need
- Learn to control reactivity to encourage productive discussion of issues
- Break out of old destructive habits and patterns
If you are unable to meet me in person, I can also meet via telephone or Skype.