How I Work
Philosophy of Change
I believe that we are dynamic beings capable of growth and change over our lifetime. Each of us has within a drive to wholeness and the capacity to move toward healing. I help clients connect with this in themselves and allow it to inform the therapy.
Acting from patterns and ways of being we learn when we are young can limit our ability to have the life we desire as adults. It is possible to discover and overcome patterns that hold us back. Working together in a process of collaborative discovery, we learn more about these patterns, so that you can evolve new ways of relating to yourself and others, answers to challenges, and greater resiliency to deal with future difficulties. This is how change occurs as a result of therapy.
I believe that therapy should empower you rather than making you dependent. I do this through collaborative, non-directive approaches that help you become confident in your own self-knowledge and capacity to create new options for yourself, so that you can move toward the life you desire and maintain the changes that helped you get there.
I believe that the environment in which a person grows up and their relationship to their cultural and ethnic background are important factors in shaping who they are and should be respectfully engaged and acknowledged in therapy. I do not seek to impose my own cultural values but rather work hard to appreciate your unique experience and identity so that you feel fully welcomed, without judgment. This includes race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical/emotional/cognitive ability, spiritual/religious identity, socioeconomic background, and immigration status.
As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medication. I believe that psychotropic medications, such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or ADHD medications, can be a useful adjunct to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may offer symptom relief and longterm resolution of the difficulties that caused a person to begin taking medication initially, allowing some people to discontinue medications. If you are already taking psychotropic medications, then I will typically team with your prescribing doctor or psychiatrist to ensure that you are progressing well toward your goals. If it seems to me that medication might be helpful and is something you have not tried, I can assist you with a referral for consultation if you are interested in exploring that.
You may be wondering what it would be like in the therapy room during our sessions. Here are some pointers to how I conduct psychotherapy:
- I offer a non-judgmental, safe, compassionate setting for you to explore your concerns.
- I see and believe in your potential to grow and heal.
- I’m deeply curious about you and your experience.
- I have a calm and grounding presence. I’m consistent and reliable.
- I acknowledge and respect the uniqueness of your background and identity.
- I view my role as accompanying and guiding rather than advising and directing.
- I am more likely to ask a question than give an answer. Most clients find my questions helpful in inviting new reflection and self-awareness.
- I tailor the therapy to your particular needs. I choose from a range of therapeutic approaches what is needed in the moment to help you.
- While our focus in session will be on you, my extensive personal and professional experience before becoming a psychologist may give me a first-hand appreciation of yours. This enhances my empathy and understanding of your situation.
There are many different theoretical orientations and associated approaches to the practice of psychotherapy. This is another important consideration in assessing the fit with a potential therapist.
I practice integrative psychotherapy, blending a range of approaches. My orientation is a little unusual in incorporating both psychodynamic therapy and transpersonal therapy. Since each client is unique, I tailor the therapy to each person’s particular situation. I may weave in several modalities in the course of a session. Generally, this is seamless. And clients report that therapy feels anything but formulaic!
Relational psychodynamic psychotherapy
My therapeutic practice is primarily anchored in relational psychodynamic theory, which focuses on the unconscious patterns of behavior and ways of being that inform how a person approaches their current life. These patterns are typically developed in early childhood, in response to parents and significant people in our lives. Our experiences of attachment with these important people, and what we (unconsciously) learn about relating to others, become very powerful forces in determining how we think, feel, and act as adults. In some cases, these patterns inhibit our ability to live the kind of life we aspire to. Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to shed light on these unconscious and unhelpful ways of being. Understanding why we have made poor decisions or what leads us into relationships that are unsatisfying helps to open new possibilities for ways of relating to self and others and creating a fulfilling life. This kind of therapy is sometimes called insight or depth psychotherapy. Depending on the complexity of a person’s life experience, and particularly if there is trauma, this work can take a little while, though the rewards are often very great. I am also trained in a brief form of psychodynamic psychotherapy which brings this approach to bear on a very focused problem or goal in about 10-12 sessions.
In my view, psychotherapy should take a holistic view of your life, making space for your mind, body, and spirit. I got my doctorate in transpersonal clinical psychology. Transpersonal means “beyond the self,” and transpersonal psychology is concerned with ways in which we feel connected to something beyond or greater than ourselves. This may be through spiritual or religious experiences, relating with nature, being in creative flow, or experiencing a sense of knowing which may be hard to explain in rational terms, or even put into words. In our work together, I will welcome these aspects of your experience if they feel important to you. My goal is to support you in growing toward the fullest experience of life that you seek, and taking a holistic view of your journey.
I believe our knowing extends beyond our cognitive awareness, to include what is felt and held in the body or known intuitively and not yet articulated. This knowledge can be a very rich source of information in therapy, and can be accessed through various therapeutic modalities, including the expressive arts, dreamwork, and somatic therapies.
Expressive arts therapies
I have a specialization at the doctoral level in Creative Expression, and conducted my dissertation research in this area. Expressive arts therapy uses art, music, poetry, movement/dance, and writing to help clients access their feelings, thoughts, and experience, so they can be talked about in therapy. The goal is not to create something to be judged on its artistic merits but merely to express oneself. If this appeals to you or you’d like to try it and see, we can incorporate expressive arts into our work.
Dreams are another powerful source of information if we choose to attend to them. I have been fortunate to study dreamwork in both the Jungian tradition and with Jeremy Taylor, a highly acclaimed expert in dreamwork who has devoted 40 years to the practice. I welcome your dreams into our conversation and invite you to consider remembering your dreams if this is not a current practice.
Soma is the Greek word for the body. Somatic psychotherapy modalities inquire into the felt experience of the client in their body as a way to access feelings, thoughts, and experiences. This is not to be confused with physical or hands-on therapies like acupuncture, massage, or Reiki. Together, we will notice what may be going on in your body as you sit in session and use this to deepen our understanding of your experience. Mindfulness practices can also be helpful for connecting more to our body and present moment experience.
If you have questions or concerns about my approach to therapy, we can discuss these in your free phone consultation.
Therapists are as unique as the clients they serve! I hope the information on my site is helpful in considering whether I may be a good match for you. I think those who know my work would say my particular strengths as a therapist are:
- Wisdom gained from extensive life experience and professional background before becoming a therapist. This allows me to appreciate my clients’ complex lives and to readily accompany professionals in therapy.
- Cultural sensitivity in working with clients from a wide variety of backgrounds. Particular strengths in addressing international acculturation, LGBT concerns, and the needs of executives and female technical professionals.
- Creativity in skillfully integrating multiple theoretical approaches, tailored to each individual client. My work with you is informed directly by your own uniqueness, moment by moment.
- Holistic holding of the human journey. Mind, body, and spirit are all important in the therapy process. My goal as a therapist is to help promote exceptional personal, interpersonal, and transpersonalA connection to something beyond the self. For some, this is experienced through religion or spirituality, relating to nature, or being in creative flow. wellbeing and harmony in the lives of my clients.