I approach therapy as a co-created relationship, for the means of understanding and improving your participation in your life, whether by emphasizing relationships, enhancing what gives meaning and purpose, or changing unproductive or unsatisfying behaviors. Giving yourself the opportunity to explore aspects of yourself and life with another brings possibilities into awareness and provides an accountability. Throughout, we’ll collaboratively generate new ways to put these possibilities into practice, demystifying apprehension, self esteem, by realistically assessing your abilities and strengths. In my experience individuals often find improvements are not only in their best interest, but in the best interest of those in their lives.
A few years back, I set out to “specialize” in “Men’s Issues.” Ironically, I experienced a sudden increase for Couples Therapy. Looking back, this shouldn’t have been surprising. Men are more likely to participate in therapy if they feel heard, understood, and supported. Since then, many men have expressed not feeling heard with female therapists. And this has been echoed by their female partners, “He’d rather see a man,” or “He just doesn’t feel comfortable with a woman,” and understandably, “He feels we’ll gang up against him.” This isn’t a criticism of female therapists, but reflects gender-specific modes of communicating, relating, and establishing intimacy. Women are typically more comfortable and adept at interpersonal dynamics, similar to those of therapy. Men typically aren’t initially, so need to know, and then feel, the therapist they’re working with has an understanding and sensitivity to their experience and point of view.
In healthy relationships individuals are able to openly communicate individual concerns, without reprimand, or their partner personalizing what they’ve said. When individuals anticipate reprimand or dismissal, conflicts remain un-resolved, so when new ones arise, not having constructive experience repairing conflicts only leads to more conflict. I encourage couples to develop Differentiation: in which individuality can mutually exist with commitment. The opposite of differentiation is Enmeshment, becoming entangled, giving up one’s identity to avoid repercussions–and later resenting it.
I help couples recognize they way each idiosyncratically engages and communicates in the relationship based on who they are and their past experiences. This helps to avoid personalizing what the other says or does, maintains individual integrity, and doesn’t make the relationship the focal point of conflict. This way, the couple can isolate actual conflicts and focus on developing strategies to productively solve them when they arise.
Counseling with Adolescents and Teens
Teens and Adolescents are at the developmental stage in which they need to recognize and integrate healthy self esteem, and appropriate social skills. These qualities will help them build relationships with important adults, peers, friends, dating, and later, romantic relationships. All important relationships require learned social skills, a strong sense of self, and the abilities to express this in order to make good choices. I also try
While, much of my role with adolescents is to be their advocate, where it is appropriate I will include parents in sessions, and collaborate with the family.
Mens Issues and the Male Perspective
Men are different than women. We have our own unique complexities and difficulties with intimacy, and forming meaningful relationships. Because of this, finding a suitable individual to work with can be difficult. Men often experience a particular a low-level depression that can negatively effect confidence and the ability to succeed. If a man doesn’t feel good about his success, or questions his competence, this affects how he feels about himself. And nothing is going to change that, but addressing it head on, so it doesn’t effect other essential areas of his life, such as relationships, with his children, and his place in the world. There’s a lot riding on these and sometimes this can’t show in their lives—certainly not before they have a handle on it themselves. Men want solutions, and sometimes, understandably, more than deciphering feelings, need to directly figure out what they will do, how they will do it, and some useful suggestions to go about doing it.
Phone & Skype Counseling
Because of the responses I have received from around the country for some of the articles I’ve posted on my website, such as Men’s Challenges with Separation and Divorce, Sexual Performance Anxiety in Men, Coming Clean: Repairing a Relationship After an Affair, What Men Mean When They Say They Don’t Want a Relationship, I now offer phone and Skype sessions. The individuals who have contacted me have expressed finding these articles and what I have to say very helpful, but because they are located outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, couldn’t work with me. Having done phone and Skype sessions in the past when local clients couldn’t come to my office, I’ve recently begun making myself available to individuals outside the area. In terms of logistics, it works the same as a “live” session, only it is over the phone, or over Skype, and fees are mailed or settled in otherwise convenient manner. Granted phone or Skype sessions have their own unique dynamics, but I haven’t found these to be a problem or impede the results–in fact, they often are more concise, and to the point.
Clinical Supervision Counseling
My approach to supervising BBS MFT Interns is collegial, supportive, and collaborative. I encourage Interns to develop their own style and sensibilities, and to recognize that psychotherapy is an on-going practice. Part of this is questioning and examining the established tenets of psychotherapy in order to take ownership of their understanding of the field. I am fairly hands-off, and assume more of a mentoring role. I encourage interns to manage their practice, network, consider marketing strategies before being licensed.