My Background and Approach

Scroll this

Background

I have graduate degrees in English/Creative Writing and Marriage and Family Therapy. Prior to, and during, my clinical training, I taught Composition, and Creative Writing courses at the University as well as Community College level and, back in the day, Adult Education, through The Writing Salon.

I have been in the field of counseling since 1998, and began practicing psychotherapy in 2000, as a part of my graduate work, seeing adults, couples, children, adolescents, and families. After graduating, I completed my required clinical hours between two supervised private practices, and started my private, after receiving my license in 2004.

My areas of experience include: Relationships, Couples Counseling, Separation and Divorce, Depression and Anxiety, Identity and Life Direction, Transitions, Men’s Issues, Sexual Performance Anxiety, and Addiction and Substance Use.

Schools Of Thought I Draw From:
Although there are many approaches to psychotherapy, unless an obvious outlier, (i.e., EMDR, Transpersonal, Psychoanalytic) they are like the old adage, “All roads lead to Rome.”  Individuals seek out a qualified professional to help them solve a particular set of problems. How the professional goes about doing this is a combination of a theory that reflects their point of view and may potentially influence their style.

When asked, “What your theory?” even now I pause and give it consideration. I am familiar with most of the traditional theories of Psychotherapy. But I honestly haven’t found one I fully resonated with, or adhere to completely. Yet I also haven’t found one that would neatly fit with those I’ve worked with. So far. I think the problem with viewing people through a particular theory isn’t that it fits them into a template, but that they might not adhere to it. And, making for a poor quality of therapy aside, unfortunately, it really makes the therapist look bad.

A part of me likes to think, by not having a particular theoretical approach, my approach isn’t limited. However, I do recognize that doesn’t mean I’m not limited. This is why I often check with you whether my response or suggestions makes sense, or that I’m understanding you. I don’t presume my feedback is accurate—or it necessarily needs to be. If I’m off, I want you to let me know. Because it benefits both of us. It sharpens my understanding of you, ensures a more productive discussion, so we can get at what’s important to you more quickly. This is an example of working collaboratively. You know your self—what’s true for you, and I here to help you access and articulate it.
Even from a business perspective: Satisfied client=good therapist, which hopefully= both continue to be successful. There’s probably few better, and mutual compliments than you refer a person you know to me, and they have a similar experience. You know, even after the fact, you made a good choice, and I did a good job. But

But just to assure you that I have I do draw from, here are brief outlines of the some I theories I do draw from. I’ve also included how I might use each in my own practice.
Existential psychotherapy
Existential psychotherapy is partly based on the existential belief that human beings overcome feelings of meaninglessness only by creating one’s own values and meanings. We have the freedom to create these values as well as the responsibility to choose the ones that best authenticate us. Perhaps the individual has let others dictate who or what they are, which  incongruent with who they see themselves as being. By making our own choices we can assume full responsibility for the results and blame no one but ourselves if the result is less than what was desired. The therapist does not try to eliminate the individual’s anxieties, but instead encourages the individual to face them head-on. Alternative paths can be explored together, and the risks these paths present can be collaboratively evaluated so that the individual will be able to make new, more authentic choices, and to emerge from therapy as a differenciated individual.
My use of the Existential approach focuses on finding your unique meaning,  purpose, and direction you want for your life. I encourage you to assume ownership and responsibility for your life, it’s content and direction. I stress striving for what you truly want, and to explore the possibilities of attaining these; whether it be career, creativity, relationships, or some sort of philosophy for life and living. For example, when an individual feels they’ve made a mistake, I help them to recognize these as opportunities for learning. In addition encouraging the individual to give themselves “permission” for the mistake and its consequences reinforces ownership of their life, and how the mistake effects it’s meaning, purpose and direction. So often we refuse authentic contact with our mistakes. As a result we lose contact with our original intentions and purposes—the meaning we hoped to derive. Doing this, we surrender original intentions to shame, or embarrassment and how these mistakes look through others’ eyes more than through our own. Ultimately, it is up to us to determine how we will view mistakes, grow as a result.

Humanistic Therapy/Humanistic Approach
Similar to Existential Psychotherapy, Humanistic Therapy can be summarized by the following five postulates :
• Human beings cannot be reduced to components.
• Human beings have in them a uniquely human context.
• Human consciousness includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
• Human beings have choices co-existing with non desired responsibilities.
• Human beings are intentional in that they seek meaning, value and creativity.
What I take from this and apply in our work is:
We aren’t just our “issues,”or diagnosis, but a dynamic interplay between our desires and circumstances, our selves and others (relationships), and the on-going striving to make meaning of all of these in the context of our lives.
We want many things, are pulled in many directions, yet saddled with essential, if not inescapable responsibilities which need to be genuinely, if not creatively, negotiated and accepted, if we are to live the life we desire and envision.

Psychodynamic
Psychodynamic Theory is based in part on the assumption that an individual’s total personality and reactions at any given time are the product of the interaction between their conscious and/or unconscious mind, genetic constitution, and their early environment, i.e., childhood and family dynamics. In other words, the origins of the present can be found and thus solved in the exploration and understanding of the past. Humorously viewed, Psychodynamics Therapy is where the Therapist mutely gestures towards the “patient” to sit and says in a neutral tone, “Tell me about your childhood…”
Again, while I do not concentrate specifically on one’s past,  I think it’s a given that past relationships create the templates for current relationships, and can be useful to explore in order to reveal, or recognize their influence on present day life and especially relationships. Family happens to be a huge influence, as is school, peers, and other relationships and experiences. Based on this, while Psychodynamic Theory attempts to offer a means to fully understand the individual, it potentially risks overlooking the present dynamic context the individual sees themselves within their current life.
Interpersonal Theory
In Interpersonal psychology the details of patient’s interpersonal interactions with others provided insight into the causes and cures of how the individual sees and experiences themselves. People keep many aspects of interpersonal relationships out of their awareness by selective inattention. Thus it is important for the therapist to inquire into a person’s interactions with others–including those with the therapist, to help them become more aware of their interpersonal patterns.
I feel and believe that the significance of psychotherapy takes place within the relationship between the therapist and client. This is, in part, because the therapist-client relationship offers the opportunity to explore interpersonal communication in a current and significant relationship with the other participating and affected member, i.e. the therapist. But it allows the individual the ability to test out new behaviors, feelings and beliefs that they might not be able to in their outside relationships. In addition, by letting one’s self be known by a trusted other, this experience is taken into one’s consciousness or psyche, and can provide an on-going sense of support, encouragement and belief in one’s self.
Because this is what I do–providing a relationship for individuals to address themselves, their life and relationships, it’s difficult, if not unrealistic, to project an entirely professional stance. It is very personal work, which I take very serious, and means a lot for me to do. But, I believe,  this relationship is about, and for, the client. Who or what the therapist is, for the most part, believed to be incidental, although that is certainly arguable. From my stand point, I assure you it’s real, genuine, and meaningful for both individuals participating in it. Yet because of this and, admittedly, it’s limitations it isn’t perfect, and thus open to question, open understanding, exploration and even frustration as a result.
It is similar to what was written in the section on Humanistic psychology, “Human beings have choices co-existing with non desired responsibilities.” Something can be one thing, while appearing to contradict it, yet do either negate the other? While I’d like to say, no, I’d also rather stay open to the understanding of the question.

Submit a comment

Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if we're a good fit to work together.