I have been trained in a variety of psychotherapy approaches which include Family Systems Theory, Bowenian Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Narrative Therapy. My graduate and post-graduate training have all been in strength-based approaches to change that believe, as I do, in the strength of the human body/mind/spirit to heal. I believe that within a safe, supportive context the body/mind/spirit’s innate ability to heal and to seek health will do just that. That once the burdens that constrain healing and health have been identified, understood and released, people and relationships will transform. Below I will address in a very brief format the general outline of my work. The steps in the treatment described below happen often not in a step-by-step fashion as much as in a more circular or back and forth fashion. We may spend more time in one step or another depending on the issues dealt with. Keep in mind it is not necessary for you to completely understand the process outlined below in order for you to have success in treatment. The understanding will come in time and change will come in time.
The first step in any good counseling/therapy is beginning to establish trust in the relationship with your therapist. Trust that he/she is knowledgeable, experienced, will listen and “really hear” you and the problems you are experiencing and that they can help you in a safe way. Treatment with me will start out with the focus on this very important component to therapy. There will be space provided at the beginning of treatment, and all through the therapy process, for any questions, concerns, doubts, fears that you may have about any aspect of the therapy/counseling process.
The next step will be to help you become aware of the process that happens between you and others and/or the process that happens inside of you (emotions, beliefs, thoughts, body reactions) that create and trigger distress (fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, discontent, despair, depression, etc..). We work to identify patterns in your life that keep the distress operating and the inner thoughts and feelings and beliefs that support those patterns. In family therapy, this introductory stage will help you to identify patterns that happen between family members that create problems.
The next step is to seek to understand those patterns and inner thoughts and feelings, where they come from, what constrains them from changing, and what supports them continuing in your life as an individual, couple or family. This may take looking at past experiences in your life including past relationships, family of origin experiences and other historical or present experiences that may have led to or are leading to the continuation of the problems.
The final step is to actively work towards changing those external and internal patterns. How change happens is all relative to your circumstances and the issues you are confronted with, whether they be as a result of distress in relationships or more individually experienced problems such as stress, anxiety, depression or adjustment symptoms relative to current or past experiences. The course of treatment may use several approaches. We will use psycho-education, direct problem solving approaches and in-depth work focused on your inner emotional system. To learn more about the in-depth work click on Internal Family Systems Therapy.
My therapy can be seen as being very collaborative in that we will work together to help you, your family, your relationship to find peace and happiness and relief from suffering. Often clients will be given reading assignments, and other assignments for outside the therapy hour. Frequently, I encourage my clients to journal about their daily life and their therapy experiences as a way of facilitating the change process. Often this very simple practice greatly speeds the time people spend in therapy.
With your permission, when needed, I will collaborate with other health and mental health providers to ensure good clinical care is provided. Also with your permission I will contact physicians and/or psychiatrists if/when medication is needed. I take a conservative approach to referring for medication assessment or evaluation. I believe that when needed, medications for symptoms like depression or anxiety can be very helpful, but should be viewed as a short-term intervention and only as a part of more comprehensive treatment plan where psychotherapy is the cornerstone of the change process. Any course of treatment will be done only with your full informed consent.
Occasionally people find there is relief from present difficulties after just talking through and gaining clarity about their problems. Sometimes after getting through the initial first steps of treatment, people find their symptoms have subsided enough that they elect to discontinue treatment. You are encouraged to stay with the treatment so as to ensure that the symptoms or problems don’t return and that future difficulties don’t set you back. For those that continue with treatment through all the steps, there are great rewards to be gained. Even if you elect to discontinue treatment after some initial relief, you can always come back to see me at any time.