“Thus, more of our attention and energy can be liberated for the complex task of living realistically, productively, and joyfully.” – Nancy McWilliams
It is difficult to boil the complexity of human psychology down to simple explanations. Further, no school or practitioner has ever “made it,” so my approach to therapy will always be changing. However, in broad strokes my approach is (1) insight-oriented, psychodynamic therapy, with helpful additions from (2) cognitive-behavioral (CBT), dialectical behavior (DBT), and existential therapies.
What does this mean?
Insight-oriented psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic therapies are the oldest therapies in use today, with their roots reaching back to Freud. Being a psychodynamic therapist means that I believe our experiences in the past affect our lives today, and that understanding those experiences (i.e., insight) leads to change. I believe that knowing yourself more deeply leads to positive change and that living honestly—with yourself and others—improves your well-being. Psychodynamic therapy uses clues such as emotion and recognizing patterns to expose aspects of ourselves that may have been helpful at one time, but now cause us pain and frustration.
I use adjunct interventions from other modalities when it is the most effective form of treatment. For example, learning to regulate your breath will provide much more immediate relief from panic attacks than exploring past relationships. Still, research shows that insight-oriented therapies may provide more lasting results, so after providing distress-relieving skills, we’ll get curious about what may have led to the anxiety in the first place.
In therapy with me, we will focus on emotion, on recognizing what you may be avoiding, and recognizing patterns in your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships. We will explore past relationships for the sake of improving your current ones. We will use our therapeutic relationship to help us understand what your relationships are like generally. (For instance, perhaps you find yourself silent about that irritating phrase I keep using? We might notice this pattern of passivity and work on using your voice so your anger does not build—with me or with your friends/partner/coworkers!) When it’s helpful, we’ll discuss strategies or skills from many of the very helpful modalities that focus on immediate relief from suffering.