My Approach to Helping
The best moments in life are rarely rehearsed. Seeking liberation from feeling scripted, stuck, limited, or boxed in? You can heal that.
It is my experience in working with clients that all behaviors, thoughts and feelings are rational and make a lot of sense given past experience. Challenges in relationships and well-being are often created when these previously effective behaviors are no longer helpful in a new environment or under a new set of experiences.
I practice therapy with a goal of supporting the client in the development of self-compassion and in trying out new behaviors. In doing so, it is often useful to help the client to evaluate and understand current behaviors and attitudes through the lens of the past, in order to determine their history and origins, and then to determine which of these may be let go of at this time to lead to better functioning and overall well-being.
Feedback from clients is that my style is warm, compassionate, respectful, and genuine. Also, we laugh a lot. Therapy is serious business, and that means humor is essential.
More Info About My Practice
I provide individual, couples and group psychotherapy, and clinical supervision and consultation to social workers working towards licensure and other practitioners.
I am licensed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. and have a physical office in Washington, D.C. I will soon be licensed in Oregon.
I am not paneled with any insurance companies, but I provide a monthly statement that can be used to submit insurance claims for out-of-network benefits.
I accept payment in the form of credit card unless other arrangements are made.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
In addition to working with clients on traditional concerns such as interpersonal relational difficulties, family concerns, depression, anxiety, and stress, I find that I am also particularly helpful to clients who engage in behaviors that may be thought "wrong" or shameful by society, i.e. aggression, criminal behavior, addictions, etc. I believe that this is because I have a non-judgmental stance and am genuinely able to see the rational and emotional reasons that someone engages in these behaviors, which helps the client develop compassion for him or herself. I am also able to help a client develop the motivation, skills, and strength to change these behaviors, which often involves a lot of brave work and sitting with discomfort in the change process.
My Role as a Therapist
I view my role as serving as an honest partner in a client's journey to understand what is getting in the way of their meeting their goals or having a greater sense of well-being, as often these patterns are hard for us to see ourselves and hard for those around us to tell us honestly. Once this is accomplished, my role becomes to support the client in the difficult and exciting process of making the changes necessary to accomplish his or her goals.
What I Usually Need to Know to Help
To help someone in therapy, I need to know what they view as the "problem" or issue they would like help with. From there, I work with the client to understand what barriers are getting in the way of achieving that goal and to support the work of eliminating those barriers.
On the Fence About Going to Therapy?
I respect ambivalence in the therapeutic process immensely, and it is one of the areas that I most enjoy addressing with clients. I understand that with all change, whether positive or negative, there are always costs and benefits--things to gain and things that may be lost. I respect deeply the difficult decisions that accompany change, and find that addressing this ambivalence is often the most critical aspect of therapy.
Also, I bring ambivalence about therapy into the room at all times, and welcome it. At times, making the decision to leave therapy is the best and right call for someone, and when that is the case, I honor and celebrate that decision with patients. At times they will return to me later when therapy is more aligned for them. My patients often joke about "therapy jail" with me, and I always remind them that if they're in therapy jail, they also have the key!
For clients who are on the fence about therapy, I would encourage you to explore it, as often when we are asking ourselves a question, it is because on some level, it may be the right thing for us. However, in entering therapy, I would be upfront about this immediately and say to the new therapist, "I'm not even sure I want to be here." Depending on the response you get to this question, you will likely know immediately if the therapist is a good fit. If they treat your question with respect and allow you to talk about your concerns, the therapist will serve you well and you will likely find that in talking through your ambivalence, you have unearthed much about the original problem itself.
Had a Negative Therapy Experience?
I would say that like in all relationships or experiences, there is an element of risk, and no assurance that the relationship will provide us with what we need. This is the case for therapy as much as in any other relationship. Psychotherapy and therapists are not immune from mis-steps, or even more egregious, inappropriate behaviors, just like any profession.
I deeply honor the pain that can emerge from having a traumatic or, just plain bad, experience in therapy. I have worked with folks who have experienced this and try to help make meaning out of this as I would with any other relationship, by exploring what didn't feel helpful; deep feelings of anger, pain, hurt, regret or loss; what the client was hoping to gain but didn't; and, most importantly, how the client and I can work together to ensure that our relationship is more positive and fulfilling for the client.
How My Own Struggles Made Me a Better Therapist
It is my belief that the best therapists are those who have engaged in and continue to work on their own interpersonal growth. I find that it is my own challenges, and the process of working through them, that enable me to find genuine compassion for my clients as they undertake the hard work of therapy and personal change and growth. This also enables me always to envision myself as a partner on the road with my clients, rather than an authoritative or "better than" voice speaking to them. I do not and have never approached therapy from a perspective of "I'm perfect and healthy and can show you the way." I'm very in touch with my own faults, challenges, pain, shortcomings, and humanity, and, as such, I believe that's why I can provide a space to help others liberate themselves from perfectionism, overwhelmingly high and painful standards, and societal and family programming and expectations that train us to lose or forget or disown our humanity and become robots. If we're robots, we're sure all feeling a high degree of pain and stress. I think even Data would say we're not very good at being robots and maybe we should go back to being human! If you want to reconnect with permission to be human again, I may be the therapist for you.
Importance of the Client-Therapist Alliance
Without a strong relationship, therapy is not effective. It is an absolute necessity and one I pay great attention to. In terms of the alliance, clients can expect me to communicate about it directly by asking how they are feeling within our relationship, particularly if I am noticing that there may be distance or other issues getting in the way of our alliance. Clients can also expect that I will share how I am experiencing the client in our relationship. By doing so, it is my experience that clients are better able to understand how others relate to them, which often contributes immensely to their being able to meet their goals.