My therapeutic skills draw from a wide array of clinical strategies; and, I rely heavily on clinical intuition acquired vis a' vis thousands of therapy hours as both a patient myself and as a therapist. I also incorporate my knowledge gained from parenting three teenagers, my own marriage and family history, my wins and losses as an athlete, meditation and yoga, as well as being an organizational consultant and workshop leader.
Begin with the End In Mind
What does successful psychotherapy look like? I would like to begin with what it will feel like at the end of the process. To do so I will start with talking about Group Psychotherapy. Because our original assumptions about ourselves and defenses developed early in life in a group (called our family of origin), the most advanced form of healing and correction also takes place in a group, called simply group psychotherapy.
After being in individual therapy for a period time, I will invite you to continue to grow in a group therapy setting. The power of group psychotherapy lies in the fact that all human feelings, purposes, and behavior originate from the individual's adaptation to other people. The groups that I lead are actively run. Sitting in group for any period allows you to deepen your connection to yourself and others with the intention of observing and changing patterns of behavior and dynamics. You are then actively encouraged to practice a new way of relating - whether it is confronting or comforting yourself, setting boundaries with others or taking risks, being vulnerable or learning healthier defenses - with my support and the support of the group behind you.
There are things that will come up for you that are important for you to work through, that sometimes never come up in the safety that exists in individual therapy. Your experience will increase optimism, facilitate change, combat isolation, and help you find your own personal power, your own voice.
Members of the group may come in with differing presenting problems - loss, finding meaning in life, sexual issues, dating, body image, divorce, parenting, depression, OCD - you name it - but the underlying themes, projections and defense mechanisms are universal. While group can initially feel intimidating or overwhelming, it is the most rewarding and effective method for deep personal growth. I would feel negligent as a psychotherapist if I didn't run groups and have my patients progress from individual therapy to group therapy.
"How long will this take?" you might be wondering.... like college it will take struggle, time and money. I consider it emotional grad school. I imagine you know extremely smart, well-off people who are unstable, unhappy and worse. Our emotional well-being determines everything. In 2009, researchers from the University of Rochester tracked the success of 147 graduates. Some had "intrinsic" goals such as deep, enduring relationships. Others had "extrinsic" goals such as achieving fame. They found that intrinsic goals were associated with happier lives and, conversely, those who had pursued extrinsic goals had more negative emotions and suffered more physical maladies.
The successful termination in group therapy looks like this: over time, a member gains clarity about the relational issues that are holding him or her back. Using group feedback and self-reflection, the member gets in touch with a continuum feelings and discovers a freedom of speech to talk about them in the group. By working through these feelings and seeing themselves differently, the person feels lighter but stronger to effectively advocate for him or herself, to seek and gain more successful satisfying relationships, and be able to love and connect to others at a deeper level.The member then carries this over outside of group to have an ease with communicating conflicts or desires or whatever the growing edge is, to others in his or her life. This becomes a new normal that is (hopefully) received well by others and may motivate them to grow, as well.
With progress, it then becomes apparent to everyone that this member is ready to leave the group. The member sets a termination date that allows several weeks (or even months) to review the progress and growth, and process feelings of appreciation for the group and vice-versa. This is a very validating and rich experience, and is critical to the process of change. Being able to give and receive mirroring and compliments is a real gift in life. And it is a gift that you will be modeling to your loved ones, one that has a ripple effect to the generations that will follow.
Migrating Toward the Starting Point
Individual therapy is a mutually participatory process. I will evaluate what you say and develop a "working hypothesis" about who you are and what your presenting problems may be. I will try to give you, as you sit across from me, a framework within which to consider your emotions. I usually give myself at least six sessions to validate that or determine different or additional ones.
I will be eliciting your views always. The more responsibility you take, the better your chances are for a successful outcome. Awareness is not enough. Once you have named all your issues, expressed all your disappointments, vented all your rage, and have felt mad, sad, bad and glad, you still have the task of changing. Often there is a difference between what you want and what you need. I will try to help reframe your questions so that you may come up with new solutions, and I will ask you to replace self-judgements with curiosity.
I will ask you to talk about what brings you in, and over the course of several sessions, we will weave around to get your life story from both a positive and negative perspective. Why go back to childhood? As children we are too vulnerable, unskilled and insecure to confront our parents about repetitive mishandling. This leaves behind a considerable unprocessed archaic legacy of fear and anger. And it takes a lot of psychic energy to keep all these pains and fears locked down in what I call "the vault of your psyche." Often, people come in and don't know why they are depressed. Your inner child knows why....You may find that you've been looking at yourself in a distorted mirror, the kind you find at a carnival, for quite some time.
I may impart my interpretations, but in the final analysis, the only truly illuminating insights about personal destiny are self-generated. Theories will only take us so far. You also will be unaware of what it is that needs confronting or at least be unwilling to acknowledge it and deal with it. Receiving initial confrontation is usually a surprise or shock. However, this is necessary for consciousness-raising. You want to wake up to something that is critical to your own well-being and the well-being of others, yes?
In terms of confronting, I 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 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.
I believe it is my duty to carry this critical part of the therapy out without my own residual anxiety in the mix. We therapists have our own emotional (at times unfinished) business having to do with a thousand experiences from our pasts, particularly those from our own childhood. I have spent many years in the chair across from my own therapist and in group settings, as well as supervision groups, advanced training groups, and as a member of the Ethics Board for the American Academy of Psychotherapists. I would love to say that my issues are all wrapped up in a neat package, and yet I'm always amazed, as I continue my own work, at what surfaces or re-surfaces. As I get older, I find the new feelings and insights around things that I've already processed to be both astounding and relieving. I hope I get to collaborate with you to experience this healing awe.
Rates, Insurance and Common Questions
Rates vary for individual, group, couples and family therapy. Please feel free to call to inquire.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.
Cash, check and online transfer accepted for payment.
If you do not show up for your scheduled therapy appointment, and we are not able to reschedule the appointment within the next week, you will be required to pay the full cost of the session.
Request a therapy appointment online here.
Questions? Please contact me for further information.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy.Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.