Therapeutic Approach and Focus Areas
I work with individuals, couples, families and groups. Focus areas include relationship difficulties, professional support, pre-teen and adolescent challenges, divorce support, grief, depression, infidelity and more. I welcome families and relationships of every kind. Below are some descriptions of how I approach therapy. If you read through this and aren't sure whether or not your circumstances fit my practice, feel free to reach out. I will let you know if I think I can be of help or if a therapist with a different orientation might be more useful for you (no single therapist is the right fit for everyone!). As mentioned on my homepage, if needed I will be happy to assist you to find the right therapist.
Individual psychotherapy with me will be as short or long term as you wish and is always under the control of you the client. In my work I start from a fairly psychoanalytic stance but will include Family Systems, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Gestalt approaches too. My goal is to create a non-judging environment in which you feel heard and an equal partner in sessions, and can therefore talk about issues that may feel impossible to talk about anywhere else.
People new to psychotherapy, whether in individual, group or family/relationship psychotherapy, often begin their sessions with some confusion about the value of staying with emotions rather than focusing on concrete problem solving. Although problem solving has its place in psychotherapy, the bulk of session work really should be about feelings. This is an important aspect of how I practice. Feelings profoundly affect the decisions we human beings make, even if we think we're making purely rational, non-emotional determinations. Feelings affect the way we approach romantic/sexual relationships, the way we handle conflicts, the way we relate to family, the way we approach authority figures and even the way we define ourselves. If we don't understand our fuller emotional selves, much of our living is done out of sight and unexamined. Destructive patterns we may have developed over time can go unchanged, despite our frustration, or even despair. So psychotherapy, whether for individuals, groups or couples, is about laying the emotional groundwork for us to make real and lasting life changes rather than just helping us get by the problem of the moment.
For Couples and Families
To understand how I approach relationship and family psychotherapy, it is important to know that I draw first from a Family Systems perspective, a collection of related theories that sees relationships and families as a kind of system, each of whose individual member behaviors will impact others to create a larger whole.
In a Family Systems approach the therapist's office becomes a safe space where relationship or family members can explore how they can shift their part of the 'system', freeing other members to respond differently too. Everybody is heard. All are equally important. We work on communication skills, general sharing, potential power adjustments, and more. It is important to note however that couples and family therapy isn't just about behaviors. It's about safely exploring the feelings that drive and are created by these behaviors; they are an integral part of this system. When a destructive interaction between feelings and behaviors changes, then the whole system changes. Feelings of love, trust, safety, and tenderness – perhaps buried for a long time - can, and often do, resurface. When that kind of shift happens, and demonstrates some durability, the work is primarily done.
Note that I will typically work with pre-teens and adolescents brought to therapy on an individual basis with some family time interspersed. This is because it's important to create a one-on-one connection with a young person as part of a change process - and each young person is different. Some need 'fun' to get that connection going. Others are ready right away to share what is feeling important. Developing a strong sense of what each young person needs is critical to keeping their investment. Having said that, parents are also key. I am a parent too so I well understand. From time-to-time I meet with parents in order to make sure I am attending to parental imperatives. I can also meet with parents and child (and siblings if needed) in order to work with the family as a whole.
I am forming a weekend divorce support group. Please contact me for more information.
Group psychotherapy is a powerful tool for change, uniquely able to assist people to find a sense of community, self and hope, even when things seem bleak. Joining a group can be a frightening prospect. Most people feel nervous at first. But when a group and a new member are the right match, the experience is deeply rewarding and can change lives.
Groups in my practice serve many functions. If you feel uncertain about how to negotiate relationships (friendships, romantic partnerships, familial or professional relationships), worry your experience in life is not shared by others or struggle with persistent anxiety about how others in the world relate to you, then you may find group to be an invaluable resource.
In group we build real relationships that can be talked about as they form, expanding our ability to develop the kind of full and lasting attachments we want.
I value diversity. All are welcome in my practice.