My Approach to Helping
You have the right to be happy. You also have the ability to be happy: you contain within you the necessary resources to solve your problems, to build strength, to feel joy. You know better than anyone else who you are and what you want and need. My job, as your counselor, is not to tell you who you are, but to help you become the person you know you can be, to help you find the meaning and purpose that will bring joy and contentment to your life. My particular interest is in working with anxiety and depression, the twin symptoms of dysfunctional modern life that far too many people suffer with in silence. I am also interested in working with the difficulties of transition - from immaturity to responsibility, from inexperience to mastery, from being alone to living in partnership, and especially from adulthood to mid-life and on. I take an eclectic approach to providing therapy; frankly, I'm not particularly interested in sticking to any particular theory, or in why a given approach works. I care, instead, that together we find something that does work. That may mean I offer you simple tools - mindfulness exercises, perhaps, or thought management techniques to control anxiety - to give you quick relief. It may also mean we commit to working together for an extended period as you explore deep-seated issues. The key is that together, we match our approach to your needs.
How My Own Struggles Made Me a Better Therapist
My interest in anxiety and depression comes honestly, as I had my first panic attack while still a teenager. I didn't know what it was, and of course it terrified me. The attacks continued, and soon were accompanied by generalized anxiety and, inevitably, depression. Eventually, exhausted after several years of ineffective self-care, I went to a professional; after an assessment, my therapist told me I had the psychological profile of a burned-out EMT. Through a combination of mindfulness exercises, tools like "thought stopping," and medication, I was able to reduce, though not eliminate, the symptoms. This continued for many years, through a series of therapists and medications. Eventually, the right therapist helped me see that I was managing the symptoms, but had never really tackled the cause. That revelation led to a serious exploration of my self, particularly focusing on how I understood the meaning of my life. It was that work that finally allowed me to conquer my anxiety and depression, and taught me a lesson that has become the center of my therapeutic approach: Symptoms are signs that something is amiss, and you can't eliminate symptoms without healing the root cause.
My View on the Nature of 'Disorders'
It's very easy to self-diagnose, to label yourself, to identify the particular mental health disorder that is, undoubtedly, the cause of your sense of unease, feelings of inadequacy, difficult relationship, and general unhappiness. Everyone, it seems, has self-identified their own disorder: if you're feeling sad, then you must be depressed. Feeling nervous: probably generalized anxiety disorder. Awkward in social situations: you have social anxiety disorder, or maybe you're on the autism spectrum!
Maybe. Or maybe not. But we have to be careful with these labels (for that's what they are - a way of naming how you're thinking, feeling, acting). For while they are useful for understanding what you may be feeling, they are not who you are. You may be sad, maybe even truly suffering a Major Depression, but that doesn't mean you are a "depressed person." You are suffering from a disorder that doesn't define you any more than having a cold makes you a "virus person."
The key to disorders then, is this: You are not the problem; the disorder is. In counseling, we form an alliance to attack the disorder, to rid you of the difficulties it creates for you.