All of us have times in our lives when we feel lonely, not OK, stuck or we're going through some kind of crisis. At these times it's very helpful to have someone to listen without judgment or criticism, who helps us feel understood, to validate what we're experiencing and to help us have hope. Being able to help people feel like they're not alone, that there is hope, inform them of options they may not have ever thought of, etc. is why I love being a therapist. A lot of people come into therapy thinking they are 'crazy' or weird. I reassure them that is not the case, far from it; that they are brave and smart to seek help for their problems. I focus on positive/healthy vs. unhealthy/dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Much of what is considered 'normal' is common but very unhealthy.
I treat each person as an individual and with unconditional regard, which I learned my first day of graduate school. Talking is therapeutic. So is laughter, aerobic exercise, journaling, music, etc. I consider it a privilege to be entrusted with my client's most personal, private feelings and thoughts. I disclose enough so they know I'm a real person, not someone to idolize or someone who has all the answers. I help them feel safe and as they feel more and more trust we can go to not just what is causing them pain, anxiety, anger, etc. now; but as they progress and are ready to, we visit the past traumatic events that caused those feelings. Then the client can process them, re-frame the experience, express the emotions they've buried and couldn't show at the time. Then they start to recover from their grief.
I teach and model healthy living skills such as being assertive, using I-messages and other communications skills, anger management, productive coping skills, positive self-talk and ways to keep what's in front of them in perspective. I love humor and use it as often as it's therapeutic. It can be useful for keeping things in perspective as it's good to be able to laugh at our somewhat self-defeating habits and some of the silly things we do.
I'm big on developing EQ, especially in men, who've been shamed for even having feelings (except anger), let alone showing or sharing them. I recommend my clients use journaling to get feelings out and increase self-awareness. Balance is key.
Many people have had traumas in their past, usually in childhood, and more recent ones too. Often they don't realize these have anything to do with problems they're having now or that they've had their whole lives. I explain to them that unless they process and thus grieve these losses they will continue carrying around the resulting fear, hurt, anger, confusion,shame, etc. This is hard but critical work and as painful as it is there is also great relief. They need to realize that none of the trauma was their fault, they were helpless and powerless children, and whatever they had to do to survive was OK and necessary. However, the strategies people learn to survive dysfunctional environments become habits that sabotage them and their success in relationships, at work and their well-being. It's important to draw a clear line between then and now. They weren't in control of their lives but they're adults now and they now have the power to be who they want to be. The rest of their life story is up to them to write. So we work on unlearning thinking errors and unhealthy behaviors and learn positive coping skills and more constructive thinking. During this we do a lot of reframing of past experiences, learning problem-ownership and setting healthy boundaries. They decide when they are done with therapy with feedback from me, summarizing their progress, encouragement to continue doing what works for them and letting them know the door's always open if they want to return for a 'tune-up'.
I use techniques based on my clientsâ?? individual needs. Iâ??m very encouraging and focus on progress. I teach skills such as positive self-talk, progressive relaxation, assertive communication, functional coping skills and keeping a realistic perspective on their issues. I have what I think is a good sense of humor and since humor is therapeutic, I use it as often as itâ??s appropriate. Other things I encourage clients to try are: writing in a journal, to develop as regular an exercise program as possible, playing music they like to lift their mood, getting outdoors as often as they can, developing a social circle, drinking enough water, eating nutritiously and more often than not, making an appointment to see their doctor. This is to rule out other illnesses as the causes of conditions like irritability, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, etc., or to diagnose and treat the disorders these are symptoms of, such as Generalized Anxiety, Depression, AD/HD, Bipolar Disorder and so on. I also refer clients to resources that could be helpful to them, N.A.M.I., and groups because they can relate to the others in the group struggling with the same issues.
or Call Michele G. Miller, L.C.S.W. at 1-800-651-8085 ext. 16004
More Info About My Practice
I see people individually, couples, and with family members as needed. Phone therapy can be arranged if distance, transportation problems, being agoraphobic or otherwise home-bound makes this the best option. I can take MasterCard or VISA credit cards. I am a Medicare provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and several other insurance companies or try to contract with them. For people without insurance or who don't want to use their insurance I have a sliding fee scale. I see people in a cozy office in my home (so dog or cat therapy is easy). The times available are from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. during the day or from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the evening, depending on the day. If there are exceptional circumstances I try to be as flexible as possible.