Empathy. Unconditional positive regard. Genuineness. Those are the qualities Carl Rogers, the father of modern-day counseling, called for in his person-centered approach to psychotherapy.
- Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
- Unconditional positive regard: accepting and appreciating you for who you are.
- Genuineness: being transparent and not hiding behind a professional facade.
And that's exactly what you'll get from me.
I believe one of the most important parts of psychotherapy is a supportive environment where you can talk openly about what you're feeling, thinking, and doing. The therapy relationship is nonjudgmental and nurturing. At the same time, you'll be challenged just enough to stretch beyond your comfort zone and grow.
Within the field of counseling, there are many philosophies / schools of thought / frameworks / collections of techniques / ways of doing theray. My orientation is primarily solution focused, with a healthy dose of person-centered (as described above), cognitive behavioral (CBT), and choice theory. Those are where I typically start with clients. Sometimes it's necessary to go deeper and explore family of origin issues, or employ specific techniques to resolve trauma. We will figure out what works best for you as we progress in our work together.
The following paragraphs describe some of the approaches I typically use:
In Solution Focused Therapy, the focus is on the future. We don't spend a lot of time dwelling on problems, because then all we see is problems and it's easy to lose hope. The suffering goes on and on. Instead, we focus on the solution. What does your desired outcome look like? How do you want things to be? How do we get there? As Steven Covey wrote in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "To begin with the end in mind... means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction."
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) holds that our thoughts control our feelings and actions. My role is to help you identify unhealthy, un-helpful thoughts and beliefs, then challenge them and and replace them. It's not as simple as it sounds because often we are unaware of these automatic negative thoughts. They're often rooted in a lifetime of negative programming. Initially, it's hard to do CBT on your own, although the goal is precisely that.
Choice Theory holds that our wellbeing is directly affected by the choices we make. If we can make healthier choices in the way we think and act, we will feel happier. My role is to help you identify the choices you are presently making (including non-action, which is also a choice), and the choices currently available to you. Again, it's not as simple as it sounds.
Sometimes present day concerns stem from the past. If this is the case, and we need to go deeper (which usually becomes apparent quite quickly), I employ an approach called Coherence Therapy (formerly known as Depth Oriented Brief Therapy). In this model, we can unlock and actually erase the emotional learning that occurs as a result of childhood abuse, neglect, or other early trauma. Emotional learning is different than factual memory. It is a set of learned, emotional responses that result from trying to protect ourselves from danger. Often the actual threat is forgotten over time, but the emotional response lingers and is triggered by any event that reminds us of the original trauma. I may teach you somatic and mindfulness techniques in order to help you heal from the trauma as well.
Unlike some TV therapists, your experience with me will NOT consist of you simply venting about the latest drama in your life, and me nodding and saying "uh huh". I ask a lot of questions. I want to understand the problem and guide you to finding a solution. I want you to gain insight and do things differently as a result.
Above all, I believe that you have all the solutions you need within yourself. My role is to provide you with a flashlight so you can see through the darkness and find them.