In individual therapy, we will spend time understanding, in a deep and connective way, how you are experiencing your life. With support, compassion, and non-judgmental curiosity, we will look below the surface. We may examine family of origin dynamics; core beliefs you hold about yourself and where you may have learned them; values you hold and how your choices do or do not support these values; and when and how you limit yourself or stand in your own way.
Much of this work demands that you strengthen the part of yourself that can track, observe, and experience what you are feeling in a moment-to-moment way. In our busy lives, it is easy to avoid or not even notice our emotions until they suddenly demand our attention. I will encourage you to embrace these sometimes-uncomfortable feelings: when they are honored and released, they can be fantastic guides.
Above all else, it is vital that our relationship feel supportive and warm, and that it serve as a container in which you can be completely yourself, free to explore with honesty and bravery. It is always my first priority to make individual therapy a space in which you feel truly seen and understood, and meeting this responsibility factors prominently in my work.
Couples struggle for many different reasons and often cite “lack of communication” as the primary source of discord. Couples work includes opportunities for both partners to give voice to feelings and thoughts that they may have believed unspeakable, and have been carrying by themselves for some time. The work of couples therapy is to help each member of the couple access and express the vulnerable emotions that may be leading them to behave hurtfully toward the other.
Often, family history and early experiences of shame or trauma contribute to our reactions to one another in the present. It is important that, while unpacking and understanding the particular cycle of discord in a relationship, we also delve into each member’s early narrative and how it may be impacting the couple in the here-and-now. When partners have a chance to hear the other’s history in a therapeutic space, it frequently changes their perspective and softens them toward each other.
Finally, much of the anger and hurt that brings couples into therapy derives from how partners talk to each other. Although a large part of couples therapy is devoted to helping patients distill what it is that they need their partners to understand, I am equally interested in teaching couples new ways to communicate.
Families are delicate systems in which each member is expected to play a specific role. When a family arrives in therapy, there is generally one “identified patient” who is not fulfilling this expectation. The early stages of family therapy are spent dissecting the dynamics of the family and uncovering the sometimes-subtle ways in which we send each other messages, both consciously and unconsciously, as well as exposing the environmental strains that may be a factor. It is important to set intentions in this stage and join the family in a shared goal for the therapy.
Similar to couples therapy, family therapy is an excellent opportunity for members to hear one another’s experiences in a fresh setting, free from the habitual modes of argument. When given adequate space, family members often reveal the sometimes surprising ways in which they have felt unknown and unseen, some of which may have even carried through from the experiences and behaviors of previous generations.
I approach family work from the point of view that each family member is doing the very best he or she can, and that everyone’s feelings and experiences are valid. It is from this perspective that I work to help the entire family operate.