The problems that bring people to therapy are almost always a combination of life’s hardships and ways of coping that are no longer working. While therapy is no guarantee against misfortune, what it can do is change the way you think about and respond to life’s challenges. A key to this process, and to overall mental health, is self-acceptance, a deep awareness that while problems and symptoms may hurt you, they don’t define you.
Just as we develop ways of coping within our early family relationships, it is in relationship that we can change them. Your relationship with me as your therapist will be both like and unlike other relationships. It will be alike in that the ways you relate with me, inevitably will be like the way you relate to other people in your life outside. In order to understand yourself and to make the changes you desire, you will need enough safety and freedom to talk about all your thoughts and feelings. To this end, the therapy relationship is unlike any other. It is exclusively focused on you and your goals. Meetings take place at regular, pre-arranged times, and are confidential. These are conditions that help to create the necessary space for deep connection and life-altering change to occur.
In your early therapy sessions, as your counselor psychologist, I will work together with you to understand your symptoms in the context of your life as a whole. Does your depression coincide with a particular event or series of stressful events, like the birth of a child, the loss of a job, or marriage problems? Has depression been part of your life for several or more years? Is your anxiety always present, or is it triggered in social situations or when you have experiences that remind you of a past traumatic event? Is your stress stemming from marriage or other relationship problems? Does the same tiresome theme seem to repeat itself in your close, social and work relationships, suggesting a possible personality disorder? What we learn from understanding your symptoms in the broad context of your life history, will help us determine what you need, the path your therapy should follow. You may need to come to therapy for a few months to sort some things out, or for a longer time to make deeper changes in the way you interact with the world. Either way, as a licensed counselor, I am available to help you on your path to improved mental health and a more satisfying life.
One of the things I will evaluate continuously, is whether or not your symptoms are so severe and disruptive that they must be addressed before therapy begins or as it progresses. If medication or another type of treatment (e.g., alcohol or drug counseling, immediate intervention for suicidal depression) seems appropriate, I will refer you to a competent psychiatrist or other health care provider. I often recommend group therapy to my clients either at the same time they are seeing me in individual or couples therapy, or after that work has ended. See below for more information about the unique benefits of group therapy.