Finding a Therapist
You did it. You made it here - to this page. This is a big deal. So many people toggle back and forth with the idea of finding a psychologist and reaching out for help. They search, delete the search tab, search again, call but hang up - over and over, sometimes for years. It's an act of vulnerability to ask for professional help and society's stigma doesn't make it any easier. Contrary to the old American mythology of "pride in strength", you are not weak in asking for help - its actually an act of courage. I mean, what is "strength" really? The ability to push up against something you feel is an obstacle. It's so much easier to stay stuck and to hide what hurts- you don't need to change anything then, ignoring the problem or pattern does not make it go away. Thats the easy way. Reaching out IS an act of strength and courage - it requires pushing past your own personal vow of silence, moving past pride or denial, through fears of shame, and into the care of someone who can help. Congratulations, you are there. I really mean this. Welcome to your new and improved version of strength.
Our emotions form the core of who we are—understanding them improves the quality of our lives. While I incorporate a variety of modalities into my work, I tend to focus on the here-and-now. This means that I pay a lot of attention to what’s happening not just in your life between sessions, but also what’s happening in the room—between you and me—during our sessions. Your past will come up so that we can uncover motives and feelings outside of your awareness, but I don’t believe that spending years talking about Mom or Dad is the most effective way to help you. Eventually, after facing what was we can face what is. The question we ask shifts from "Why cant he/she change?" to "Why can't I?" I take a creative and practical approach that allows you to understand more experientially what drives you and restricts you, and to identify more useful ways of being - in the here and now. The idea isn’t to get bogged down in analysis, but to quiet the “noise” that distracts you, so that you can focus your energy on what’s meaningful, productive, and fulfilling.
The secret agreed upon by most experienced clinicians is that targeting symptoms is unproductive. However, unearthing the personality patterns that underlie the productions of those symptoms is where the therapeutic magic. This is not just clinical wisdom; it's a scientific fact. For example, the personality issues most often reported by experienced clinicians as clinically significant include the following concerns: problems with intimacy, relatedness, or commitment in close relationships; difficulties with assertiveness or expression of anger; problems with separation, abandonment, or rejection; problems with self-esteem; problems with authority; shyness or difficulty getting close to people or making friends; and perfectionism or high self-criticism. These are often the issues driving debilitating psychiatric symptoms.
What to Expect
First and foremost, you can expect to be heard and understood on a deep level. The beginning of therapy always consists of developing meaningful, accurate and insightful understandings of the current issues you are facing. This may take some time, as we are profoundly wedded to and soothed by the power of the familiar. Even if it’s good, what is new can be difficult. It also takes time to warm-up, feel safe, and begin the process of taking a certain pain (e.g. anxiety, depression, anger) and begin peeling back the layers of the onion around it. In terms of what makes therapy effective - research shows that the most significant factor in a successful outcome is the relationship with the therapist—that feeling of "they get me." It matters even more than the therapist’s training, the kind of therapy they do, or what kind of problem the person has.
As active, involved therapists, our goals are to help you look at your life more clearly and join you in the discovery of all the complexities that make up you. We want you to leave our practice with an ongoing sense of honesty with yourself. By claiming and understanding your own history, you can be freed of the traumatic auto-pilots of the past and avoid recreating old painful scenarios. In the process, your basic personality will not change but come into fullness - small, yet extremely meaningful modifications can create an entirely different life without having to create an entirely different person. Getting better, regardless of diagnosis, centers on finding your inner voice, gut reactions, and then learning to follow them in a constructive way.
Another big piece of therapy is aimed at raising consciousness and awareness. When unresolved issues are writing our life story, we are not our own autobiographers; we are merely recorders of how the past continues, often without our awareness, to intrude upon our present experience and shape our future directions. We aim to transform the pain that uses you to the pain that you use.
In the course of therapy, you can expect to learn some new tools and skills to do so. This often includes developing language to better describe your inner world, finding healthier boundaries in relationships, learning to trust your intuition and communicating more effectively with the important people in your life. I find that most pathology ends up being expressed through denying ones own perceptions, needs, and feelings. In other words, people come out better equipped to say what they feel, and feel what they say. They report that they know themselves more fully, and utilize their insights and self-discovery to better navigate life's challenges. A key feature in successful therapy is that over time one is able to develop a "third eye" for their lives and more readily pick up on their own habits, patterns, and ways of being in the world - be it with themselves or how they show up in relationships. Ultimately, they are able to embrace the risk of being all that they are and find enjoyment in love, work, and play.