My Approach to Psychotherapy:
I approach psychotherapy as an active partnership between the psychologist and the client(s). It is my responsibility to do my best to:
Help you clarify your issues and goals;
Provide a warm, non-judgmental, confidential
Assist you in identifying and connecting with
your personal strengths;
Suggest fresh perspectives;
Encourage you to try out new behaviors;
Be there to back you up when setbacks occur.
It is your responsibility to do your best to:
Be open and honest in your communications with me;
Be honest and compassionate in your self-examination;
Understand that we all resist personal change;
Be open to trying out different perspectives, approaches and behaviors;
Commit to getting back up when things knock you down.
I love being a psychologist because each client brings a different journey. It is very rewarding to work with clients as they remap their life course and take the next important steps.
Like most psychologists, I have been trained in and influenced by multiple “schools” of psychotherapy. These include Cognitive Behavioral psychotherapy, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Jungian psychotherapy, and Gestalt therapy. My primary identification is with Cognitive Behavioral psychotherapy. This approach emphasizes how we “frame” our experiences, how we talk to ourselves, and how we can change our behavior to improve our lives.
I also incorporate Positive Psychology into my work. The positive psychology movement criticizes traditional psychology for placing too much emphasis on disorders and psychopathology. Instead, Positive Psychology calls us to assess, recognize, and utilize people’s inner resources and character strengths. I recommend to my clients that they take the VIA Character Survey to identify their character strengths. This survey can be completed at no cost over the Internet at www.viacharacter.org. At no cost you will get a rank ordering of your character strengths. You may purchase an 18 page individualized report for $20 or a 24 page comprehensive written report for $40.
I look at human beings as Physical beings (body), Mental beings (thinking and perceiving), Emotional beings (feeling), and Spiritual beings.
I am interested in how you relate to your body and how you take care of yourself. Do you eat well? Do you exercise? Do you take the medications that you have been prescribed? Do you trust or mistrust your body? Do you put yourself at risk of physical harm?
I am interested in how you perceive and think about your world and yourself. I emphasize doing our best to see ourselves, others, and the world as accurately as possible. I prefer dealing as directly with Reality as we can. Mark Twain once said; “my life has been filled with many misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
I believe that most of what we tell ourselves about ourselves is not true. Or to be more precise, most of what we tell ourselves about ourselves has some truth to it but more untruth than truth.
I also believe that most of us spend far too much time either rehashing past events or speculating about what is likely to happen in the future. It is important and necessary to recognize what has happened in the past and to make plans for the future. But the only moment that can be lived is the present one. I remind myself when I play tennis that there is only one point, the one I am playing. Joy and happiness (as well as pain and sorrow) exist only in the present. Shifting our focus to live more of our lives in the present moment is a challenge for most of us.
I am interested in you as an emotional being. All perceptions automatically bring an emotional component. The moment we recognize a friend, we are feeling as we recognize. As we think about the friend more feelings come automatically. Often our emotional responses are so muted that we do not recognize them. Other times our emotional responses are intense and strongly shape what we think and how we act.
Some people are open to their emotions and others stifle how they feel. Recognizing our feelings is a component of living our lives in some balance.
I am interested your spiritual stance. You may hold a specific set of religious beliefs, attend religious services, and/or actively practice your faith. This is helpful for me to know. For instance, prayer can be a powerful means to create personal change or to cope with painful circumstances. If you believe in the power of prayer, we have this practice available to us. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they talk about turning unmanageable problems over to God. If you believe in God, this avenue is open to us. If you believe in life after death, we will have a different conversation when someone close to you dies than if you do not believe in life after death. If forgiveness is your issue, your religious beliefs can quickly inform the conversation.
Many people do not subscribe to a particular religious faith, but do believe that something exits that is larger than ourselves and binds up together. It helps me to know what you believe and how you experience this larger connection.
You may be agnostic or atheistic. In this instance I what to know the foundation of meaning in your life. Is your stance Humanistic or Existentialist or something else less formalized?
As a psychologist, I respect the full range of spiritual stances. It is not my intention to challenge your beliefs or to try to persuade you to adopt my beliefs or practices. There are two exceptions. If you believe that God is an angry, punishing force that plays a central, negative role in your life, I will probably be unable to help you. If you believe that God is guiding you to do something destructive to yourself or others, I will challenge that view and recommend that you take psychiatric medication.
I love the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.” A lot of psychotherapeutic work revolves around accepting the things we cannot change, doing the work of changing what we can, and developing the wisdom to live our lives with strength from the inside out.