My Approach to Helping
My approach to therapy is built on a couple of core premises that I have found time and again. The first is: disconnection from our own personal wisdom and power makes us deeply unhappy. Being unhappy fosters undermining beliefs, which then leads us to act in ways that are hurtful to ourselves and others around us. For example, when we experience anxiety or depression, we often feel that way because we believe that we are confronting something that feels insurmountable. When we struggle with interpersonal communication and relationships issues, dynamics come in play that makes us feel "less than", or we overcompensate with a "more than" way of being to cover up possible feelings of inadequacy. If we are a member of a minority group, we feel pinned in and oppressed by the dominant culture. Does any of this ring true for you?
When we reach that critical point where we have had enough and want positive change, some of us tend to look to an expert to "fix" our problems. This reminds me of friends of mine who are usually in some kind of trouble or drama, and they ask "What should I do?" They get lots of great advice, yet nothing changes. However, when they have an "a-ha!" moment of insight, the prospect of positive change is usually much higher. This is my second premise: The most effective answers usually come from within.
When I work therapeutically, my overall objective is to reconnect you to your innate strength and wisdom so that you can have those magical "a-ha!" moments and work toward the healing you want to see in your life. I want you to have the experience of empowered freedom, so that you can be your most authentic self!
More Info About My Practice
I've been working in the mental health field for 15+ years working with adults, youth, and families in individual, family and group therapy settings. I came to this field after almost a decade in financial services, where I came to realize that what made me happy, what "made my day", were the deep relationships I was building with my clients and my ability to help them. I cherished this so much that I elected to leave financial services and start a new career as a therapist.
I have to tell you that, truly, this was one of the best decisions I've made in my life! Over the years I have gotten to know and help so many people from a wide variety of backgrounds and issues, and the joy this work has brought me is immeasurable! I "light up" when I talk about this work and the passion I have for it with others.
As for my personal style, I am a pretty friendly and outgoing person, and I like to engage my clients actively. I listen reflectively, I engage my clients with warmth and support. I highlight therapeutic material that may be working against you, and I may likely encourage you to look beyond beliefs and actions that do not serve you now. I also like to engage my clients with good humor as well, when appropriate. With this approach, I am able to "cut through the noise", and quickly zero in on the core of the issues at hand.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
Throughout my experience as a mental heath professional, I have worked with quite a variety of populations and issues. Below are a couple examples of the type of work and populations I have had success working with:
LGBTQ+ community: This is near and dear to my heart. When I first decided to pursue a career as a therapist, I was moved to give back to my community, especially to LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. As a self identified cisgender gay man, I am well acquainted that members of our community face when trying to get mental health services. As a clinician in community mental health, I worked with clients who were in the process of coming to terms with their sexual orientation andor gender, especially in the face of stigma associated with serious mental illness. I have worked with the family members of these clients to help them to understand their loved one and the struggle they face. Many times I have had to mediate a family who rejected my client because of the conflict between their religious beliefs and the client's sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, as a therapist in private practice, I am committed to continuing my supporting our community and making mental heath services as accessible as possible.
Men's Issues: We have all heard the phrase "Real men don't cry", and it is both my personal and clinical experience that this saying, and all that it implies, is potently toxic to men. Generally speaking, men in our society are not "supposed to" be in touch with most emotions, with the exception being anger. But this is a trap, because anger alone does a poor job of expressing other emotional processes like sadness, grief, anxiety, or love and tenderness. Men may suppress their feelings, which creates undue stress, poor relationships with others, loneliness and isolation, and in more extreme cases violence, substance abuse and other forms of harm to self and others.
When I work with men, I bear in mind the insidiousness of this poisonous societal attitude, and take great care to create a safe, nonjudgmental and shame-free environment to address this head-on, within the larger context of the therapeutic process.
Importance of the Client-Therapist Alliance
The client-therapist alliance is the foundation on which excellent therapy is built. When there is a mismatch between the two, it can be a quite frustrating and disheartening experience for both. I know this first hand from both the client and therapist role!
To put it in a nutshell, there needs to be good chemistry between the client and therapist. What do I mean by this? I mean that the client feels comfortable sharing intimate details with the therapist. The client trusts that the therapist "gets it" and responds in kind. The client feels that the therapist is genuinely interested in the client and what is brought to therapy. The client feels seen and heard authentically. The client is invested in coming back to the next session to further their work.
I am acutely aware of the need for good chemistry with you. One of the first steps I take, before you even sign up with me, is to provide a free consultation. This allows us to get to know each other a bit, discuss the issues you'd like too address, and we begin to test the chemistry between us. If we mutually elect to work with each other, I will regularly check in with you about our work and how you feel we are doing as client and therapist. If at any point you feel that the relationship is not meeting your expectations, you'd like to change some elements of our work, or you determine that I am not the right person for you, I am completely open to that feedback and welcome it! I do not want to unduly frustrate you, Rather, I want you to get maximum benefit from the therapeutic process without reservation.
The Duration and Frequency of Therapy
The duration and frequency of therapy can vary widely from person to person. There are some who have a specifically defined issue and really want a pragmatic solution for that issue alone. This type of therapy is usually shorter in duration and frequency -- say 1 to 2 times a week for 5-10 weeks or so. Others want to work on what I call "issues of being" such as managing relationships, life transitions or other existential issues. This type of therapy can be 1 to 4+ times a month for many months or years.
I have found that most people want to work on a mix of concrete and abstract issues, so chances are the duration and frequency will most likely be somewhere between the 2 scenarios above. As we get to know each other, and as the issues become clearer, we will work together so that we can determine what duration and frequency will work best for your situation, always mindful of any limitations you may have.