My Approach to Helping
It's easy to ignore the idea of your own death when life is going well. But all of us encounter shocks along the way that remind us of our mortality. These reminders motivate us to triumph over death by increasing our significance. However, these immortality projects always fail to extinguish death anxiety. I believe that the denial of death influences us and restricts our experience of life. Psychotherapy helps us explore the positive and negative ways we manage our terror of death. A conscious awareness of death acts as a catalyst, energizing us to seek out more authentic ways of living and enhancing our pleasure in living life.
More Info About My Practice
I am fascinated by life's ultimate concerns: death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness. Talk therapy is a resource that can address one, or all, of these ultimate concerns by sharing insights which can limit the suffering such concerns can cause. These concerns are very personal. Therefore, trust between the therapist and patient is vitally important.
I have worked as a teacher of adults and children. This work revealed to me that all people share the powerful need to feel understood, valued, and competent. Therapy is a fantastic opportunity to gain a new perspective on who you are and learn new ways of being within a safe, supportive, confidential environment.
Important Factors for Choosing a Therapist
The most important factor for choosing a therapist, in my opinion, is understanding why a therapist chose this profession. I believe it is fair to ask, "why did you become a therapist?" Almost every client I have encountered has asked me this question. As a result, I appreciate that it is my responsibility to account for "why" in order to earn the trust of clients and colleagues and manage client expectations.
The short answer to why I am a therapist is that, more than any other profession I have experienced, therapy most effectively induces "flow." Flow, for me, is the experience of being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Simply put, flow feels great.
My experience of flow is an important component of my understanding of therapy in that, while I am experiencing flow, I feel a great reduction of death anxiety. I believe that death anxiety is pervasive and common across all cultures. The role of death anxiety is important to therapy because it drives us to seek reductions in anxiety by securing, by any means possible, self-preservation. Along with self-preservation, we seek a feeling of importance (also known as self-esteem, self-efficacy, and competence). How we obtain the feeling of importance is the basis of therapy. Our methods for securing importance can be self-constructive or self-destructive, temporary or long-lasting, and congruent or incongruent with our values. The failure to develop affirmative, authentic, value-congruent and self-constructive sources of importance generates the sort of interpersonal and existential problems that, once upon a time, drove people to seek religious authorities but now drives people to seek therapists.
Therapy is a fantastic resource for helping people manage death anxiety for three basic reasons. First, the simple act of attending therapy affirms the client's sense of agency. Second, therapy that is affirmative can empower individuals to secure sources of importance congruent with their unique value system. Third, therapy that is interested in the individual's subjective experience of self will guide the session focus toward being in the here-and-now. Being in the moment reduces anxiety by shifting focus away from the past (which cannot be changed) and the future (which is important to discuss but may be overwhelming). Flow, after all, is another way of being in the present.
There is a quote by an ancient Roman playwright named Terence that captures why I became a therapist. Terence said, "I am human, therefore, nothing that is human is alien to me." Terence's quote is a humbling reminder that, in my role as a therapist, I am not set apart from my clients. Instead, therapy's power to inspire positive change and relieve suffering is born in the meeting of therapist and client as human beings and partners who share the universal need for safety, security, love, and acceptance. To be invited by you to help you grow and become your best self is a great privilege.