My Philosophy and How I Work…
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answer, “Man.”
“Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Something has to change…
I’m so tired of how my life is going.
I’ve tried to make things better and it’s just not working – this person in my life is impossible to deal with.
I’m hurting so much from this loss.
I’m feeling badly but I’m not sure why.
I can’t stop this destructive behavior that is killing me (and my friends and family) emotionally and/or physically.
If any of these thoughts ring true, then taking charge by seeking therapy is a good choice. While not many people throw confetti at the thought of going into therapy, your wanting to feel better is a sign of health, and it is the healthy part of you that got you to this site. Selecting a therapist, however, is not necessarily easy. But finding the right one can (and should be) a life changer. I want to be as explicit as possible in this site to help you decide if you want to reach out to me.
I absolutely believe people can change, and I will actively work with you to reach your desired outcome and make lasting changes. I will help you examine how you approach problems and cope with life and relationships. This will involve not only correcting the presenting problem, but also avoiding similar crises in the future. Your awareness that there is something about your character or the way you are reacting to things that may be contributing to your problem(s) is an important starting point. This awareness will assist in our collaboration and therapeutic process.
Our therapy will help you identify your strengths and build on them, so that you can feel better about yourself and your life. We will identify thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make your life harder: “I have to be perfect at everything.” “If I get angry, I’m a terrible person.” You will work out problems in your relationships with me, because inevitably something will come up in the therapy that likely represents what is problematic about your approach to your conflicts, and I will give you honest feedback about it. In other words, the way you interact with me in the course of our therapy shows me a lot about how you interact with others both positively and negatively. It’s the latter that creates problems in your relationships.
In my relating to a patient, I am often modeling more effective ways for the patient to do their own relationships. I also use my own life experiences or those of people I know to illustrate something I want to teach a patient. We will then work on how you can change this to be more constructive.
We may role-play new ways of interacting with others, and practice skills such as soothing yourself when upset. I will help you learn, apply and master these life skills. Through our relationship, you will figure out different ways of thinking that will make life more bearable: “I don’t need to be perfect at things for people to care about me.” “Everyone gets angry, it’s a normal emotion. How I use it constructively is the main goal.”
Even if there are difficult people in your life (from upbringing to present time), your feelings and reactions are what I will be helping you with. I am interested in working with individuals who want to make significant changes in their lives and who are willing to take responsibility to do so. My starting assumption as that you can greatly improve the quality of your life if you commit to the therapeutic relationship and trust the process.
Therapy is a big investment of time and resources, yet the payoff in terms a better quality of life now and in the future is enormous. And this payoff keeps on giving to the generations that follow. Working on your issues now may save your children from having to suffer with those issues as you have and perhaps save them some hours in therapy. The changes you make in your life will likely benefit those around you including friends and coworkers, family and, if married, with your spouse or partner and your children.
I am both a good listener and an activist on your behalf. Finding the energy, both emotional and physical, to change can be exhausting. I like to think of sessions as a safe place for the individual to download and recharge, borrowing from my energy and taking it with them. At times therapy is hard. Sometimes you might not like what I have to say. And you get to say so! Sometimes our exchanges will act like a key unlocking a door that you may not have even knew existed. With change comes relief, but it is not without some hard work.
I use my background as an athlete and personal trainer to help you get in the mindset of proactive thinking and being. Without a good alliance and compassion, confrontation can be too hard to take. I take care to empathically track where you are at, and push hard when the timing seems right. We will learn the timing of confrontive exchanges together. I do not hold back feedback you may need to hear to change.
I work well with over-achievers. Most of the people I work with are extremely successful in certain areas, but have a block that is preventing them from overall contentment and happiness. My goal is to help you feel safe, supported and understood while pushing you to reach your desired outcome. Let’s work together to not fall under the Dalai Lama’s observation.
What sort of warrant for confrontation exists between people – husbands and wives, parents and children, colleagues, friends? Many situations in life do present us with a warrant to confront. But if we get it wrong – by misjudging the situation or by adopting the wrong manner – we can become bullies, bores, nags or ignoramuses. This all makes life interesting and a challenge.
How to get it right? I will make every effort to be on target in content, supportive in manner, and poised in truth. I will take risks to challenge and push you even though, you, as the receiver, will likely be at a less conscious level or too defensive to hear about the issue and do something about it. You will most likely undergo the shock of awakening to this deficit, because of a normal reluctance to face it and make it better. I will hope to understand that there needs to be opportunities in your therapy and your life for doing something about it, otherwise you may feel too ashamed or alone with it. We will work on how to facilitate these opportunities.
As I said in the prior section, In terms of confronting, don’t believe in either cream puff or sledgehammer approaches – one side is degenerative of power and the other is lacking love and sensitivity. And in each case, care and wisdom are missing. Neither are necessary when our process is approaching the target. And yes, I’m presuming to judge what it is you are not aware of – but it is in the spirit of it being in your best interest. If I get it wrong, then you get to correct me and add to the picture so that it comes into focus. Your level of honest disclosure hastens this process immensely.
What are some typical agendas or patterns (I will use these interchangeably) that may need to be confronted?
Some agendas to be confronted seem to stem from a lack of a basic emotional education, training and skills building.
Let’s run through some of the typical ones:
Verbal-behavioral patterns: the person is deficient in verbal, conversational and social or interactive skills. The repertoire of the person is too limited, hence maladaptive and problematic. The person is unaware that this is a problem and can feel easily shamed when this is introduced.
Emotional agendas: the person is deficient in emotional competence and has never heard of or learned the emotional skills of expression, control, attunement and empathy. The individual’s emotional responses push others away and do not serve him/her well.
Interpersonal agendas: the person is unaware of behaviors that unnecessarily disturb, hurt, and frustrate others. Or collude with or coddle, pamper or seduce others. Or reject, neglect or distance them from others. This includes all kinds of relatively unaware distressed social interactions, such as the social acting out of compulsive victim/oppressor/rebel/rescuer roles.
Intrapsychic agendas: these include the person’s frozen needs and distresses of childhood, the denials and defenses around these, and the way they are acted out in compulsive martyr or rescuer roles. Included here are also the current tensions and distresses which are not being owned and faced, as well as psychosomatic problems.
Intellectual patterns: the person lapses into logical errors including irrelevancies and inaccuracies in order to fill the air – to hide behind their words metaphorically speaking. The person may think they are one-up or smarter, but can actually come across as un-attuned and/or ignorant.
Aesthetic agendas: the person is unaware of social mores and may lapse into tastelessness and bad form. This is the opposite of the universal truth that politeness, self-care/hygiene and order in one’s immediate environment tend to influence positively the way one acts in that environment and the way the environment reacts to him or her.
Contractual and moral agendas: the person has lapses about fulfilling contracts, keeping promises, telling the truth, being just and impartial in judgment, extending love, benevolence and so on. This is unfortunately a common one because few people get an enlightened and liberating ethical education, which presents morality as a form of human flourishing rather than an oppressive bind.
Immediate behavior patterns: the person does not make eye contact, has body postures or gestures that are not in alignment with what is being said, but rather is indicative of what is not being said. There can be agitation and slips of the tongues.
Now named and hopefully understood, what to do?
When any of the above are being displayed in the therapy session, I would be remiss not to raise consciousness about these agendas that the patient is likely unaware of. I will identify the unconscious agenda, explain how I see you acting it out, explain why it is relevant and appropriate to raise the matter, and, I will give you plenty of space and time to react. I will also be firmly pointing out any defensive reactions and uncompromisingly holding my ground about the objective truth of the agenda. I will help you find a way of dealing with the source of the unaware/unconconscious behavior, and help you develop a different attitude toward change, toward a new and more fulfilling, integrated way of being.
If you are able to take responsibility for your actions and develop the capacity to forgive and love yourself and others, the aspects of your life over which you have control will inevitably become more manageable and more fulfilling.
Professional Activities and Memberships
Member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists