Views About Therapy

Every therapist has his or her own way of practicing therapy. Regardless of a practitioner's style, all therapists share the same goal. They want to help you, and usually helping you means that they want to help you change something about your life. Change, as we all know, does not come easily for us. So, all therapists are trying to facilitate change. Different therapists go about this task of facilitating change in dramatically different ways.

Why do we have difficulty changing?

Have you ever noticed that as much as you say that you'd like to change, it's very difficult for you to do so? Frequently, the things that we want to change--our sadness or our anxiousness or our commitment to troublesome patterns--serve a purpose for us. While they also cause us distress, their removal from our lives threatens us at a very deep level. In other words, we feel a certain sense of comfort in the life that we have built around our quirks and patterns and we hesitate to contemplate how vastly our lives might have to adjust to substantial changes in how we view the world. For example, we might wonder how a change in our general mood might influence the dynamic we have with our spouse or with our parents.

I also believe that we often are "of two minds" about certain issues in our lives. A part of us might really like to change while another part of us wants to slow down the change. When we find our minds embattled in such dilemmas, we frequently feel like we cannot find a solution that satisfies both parts of ourselves and so we stop trying.

How I can help you to change

Through therapy, I will help you to change by getting you to focus more accurately on the real issues that you face. Quite often, we humans have developed a quick and easy story about the cause of our distress--an explanation. As a therapist, I want to understand and develop your story in quite a bit of depth--maybe even more depth than you have allowed yourself to understand it or put it into words. I have received extensive training in how to go about helping you to elicit the details of your experiences. So, a lot of my method of therapy involves getting a very deep and resonant view of your personal story. Through this process, I will always believe that there is a truth to your story, even if it's hard to explain rationally. Together, we will find a basis for understanding why your story makes sense for you and fits consistently into the complex fabric of who you have been and are today.

I also believe that we most readily change through the relationships that we hold. As such, I believe that my relationship with you needs to be an actual relationship. By developing a close rapport, we also develop the opportunity to use our relationship as a vehicle for understanding how you interact with people in your world. I have developed extensive skills in keeping the relationship with my clients healthy so that we can both develop a level of closeness but also step back from the bond that we develop to understand the process between us. Some therapists believe that they stay distant from the patient and his/her issues. My approach (called a relational approach) sets me apart from other therapists.

Finally, related to the idea that we often have "two minds" about a particular problem, I often use therapy as a way to explore the internal conflicts that you might have about the hard issues that you face in your life. First, I will help you to identify this conflict. Second, I will teach you how to allow the various conflicting parts of yourselves to coexist--in much the way that two people in a relationship need to find ways to respect their differences. In some ways, individual counseling can look like marriage counseling between the internal parts of yourself.

The patient's role in therapy

Therapists vary in the amount that they interact with their clients. Some therapists choose to say almost nothing, leaving it to the client to direct the session. As part of my view that the therapeutic relationship is a true relationship, I view it as important that we do interact with each other during sessions. That said, you will need to take ownership for your improvement. By this, I mean that you must spend some time thinking, before the session, about things that have happened since our last session together and must direct the session according to the things that feel important to work on. I will certainly have things to say as well, but I will not tell a client what to do.

In this sense, therapy differs quite a bit from "giving advice". For the most part, I will usually respect that you have a better perspective to make decisions about your own life than I do. I can provide input to help you to direct your thinking, but I rarely provide answers or opinions, choosing instead to help you to figure out your own answers.

The more you can tell me about yourself and the more truthfully you share things that bother you--even if you consider these things embarrassing--the more able I will be to help you to make sense of it all. As part of my desire to understand the richness of your story, I will try my best to accept you and to understand the logic in your choices and actions, even when they seem to not make sense to you.

You may request more information online, or to set up an initial session, call me at my office.