The patients that I serve often struggle with self-critical and self-shaming thoughts, and a tendency towards beating themselves up for perceived or real weaknesses. This pattern of thinking is especially common in intelligent, high-functioning individuals who are seeking perfection¯ and ultimately, can lead to a pattern of chronic depression. I also treat patients who tend to think in catastrophic¯ or what if¯ terms, always worried that the other shoe is about to drop. This perceptual pattern can create serious anxiety in patients, often leading to feelings of being immobilized, frightened and alone.
When treating individuals, the childhood roots of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors are explored, and patients learn to replace criticism and shame with kindness. Clients develop the ability to sit still with their emotions, rather than avoiding uncomfortable feelings through compulsive, "busy", or destructive behaviors. Through this process, depression & anxiety are reduced, while patients experience an increase in self-confidence, assertiveness, creativity, & tolerance for intimacy. And as your emotional connection to yourself & others improves, a sense of contentedness replaces your feelings of emptiness.
In my practice, I treat high maintenance¯ couples with a history of unresolved injuries and disappointments. Some of the couples I treat become easily entangled, bickering like siblings over seemingly small¯ matters. Some couples get embroiled in more heated arguments over large and small matters; often, these fights escalate and the exchanges become insulting and over-the-top¯, further compounding the couples alienation.
Often, the partners in these couples blame each other for the depths of each hurt, unable to take ownership for their own sensitivities that lie beneath the injured surface. Couples caught in this trap often engage in a game of hot potato¯, arguing over who is the bad guy¯ as they try to make sense of their upset. Each party feels identified with the role of victim¯, finding it difficult to appreciate his/her impact on the other. In reality, both partners are equally wounded and equally deserving of attention for their injuries. And in each case, both partners have areas of psychological blindness, where their past histories have left them with wounds and vulnerabilities that enhance their sensitivities and their experience of feeling wounded and angry.
In my office, the most frustrated couples learn to identify feelings and needs and to communicate them without using attacking words; when buttons¯ are pushed, they learn how to disentangle from each other and reconnect. In the therapy process, each partner learns to take ownership for the part they play in the destructive dynamic, and each partner is able to experience the relief of having their spouse understand their pain on a deeper and more meaningful level.
or Call Leanne E. Watt, Ph.D. at 1-800-651-8085 ext. 12314