My Approach to Helping
Relationship is the Central Quality to Being Human
Without close relational bonds, we suffer the kinds of problems that bring many to seek help from a professional. Research in neuroscience shows that from infancy through adulthood, emotionally connected, nurturing relationships actually "wires our brains." This wiring is the foundation for our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, our ability to connect with others, the resilience necessary to handle life's challenges, and even our very sense of self. Without a solid foundation created in relationships, we may experience the distress common in emotional, personality, and behavioral challenges. However, the same research shows that with new experiences, it is possible to rewire your brain in ways that promote healing, well-being, and improve your relationships. Therapy can provide those experiences and start your process in healing.
More Info About My Practice
Who I am and How I Work
My usual and customary fee is 100.00 for a clinical hour. For couples, I recommend that our sessions are 90 minutes. I am open to discussing reduced fee arrangements if there is a demonstrated need.
I am a relational and mindfulness-oriented therapist. Just as relationships are central in our lives, the relationship in therapy is the main vehicle for creating new experiences critical to healing and transformation. It is my mission to create a safe and empathetic space for you to have these new experiences. Within this relationship, you can also learn how to "turn toward" the hard stuff with a sense of openness and curiosity, and discover what unconscious, protective responses you have come to employ that are keeping you from being yourself, from having good relationships, and from living wholeheartedly.
My goal is to assist you to mindfully notice, to pause, and to approach experiences that up to now had been unconsciously running you into rigid or chaotic ways of automatic responding. It is possible to break free of old constraints and live a with more presence, authenticity, vitality, and contentment. I am dedicated to creating a safe and nurturing space for you and a therapeutic relationship that can help you start this process of transformation and healing.
Once you start noticing and facing the uncomfortable experiences that make you want to run or shut down or dance as fast as you can, you can begin developing the resilience to acknowledge not just painful feelings, but also your needs, your truth, and values. In time, with new experiences of yourself, you can begin to show up and feel that you belong in the moment, in your body, in relationships with others, and in the world. In essence, it is possible to re-wire your brain from old habitual ways of coping with uncomfortable experiences to new ways of responding to life's challenges.
When Things Go Wrong
Unfortunately, we do not all get the benefit of good early relationships. Even if we had, sometimes, trauma and tragedy comes along and wounds us deeply. As a result, we may experience the feeling that too many things in life, especially relationships, are frustratingly difficult as we move through adulthood. Try as we might to make things better, we sometimes find that we aren't making sustainable headway and are at our wit's end in figuring out what to try next. We feel anxious, depressed, or a sense of hopelessness about our own lives. We feel stuck.
People often seek therapy because they are experiencing specific, unwanted symptoms like anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, or depression. Couples come in because they are not getting along, or sometimes one half of the couple feels that way and the other has no clue as to why they are seeking counseling other than their partner insisted on it.
The common thread is that there is usually some kind of issue with relationships past and/or present. I find that many folks haven't had the supportive and caring relationships early in life to develop enough of the healthy "relational software" that helps people feel safe enough, secure enough, or understood and accepted enough to show up fully in their life. This software, or the way we become organized around early relationships can give us a sense of trust in our self, in others, and the world so that we can to be vulnerable, open,honest, and vital. When people have been deeply hurt or betrayed by others and have experienced some level of emotional neglect, that software is written so that relationships do not feel safe and we don't feel secure. People often walk through life controlled by deep fear or of abandonment, self-defectiveness, and aversions to strong emotions. They may feel that they just don't belong and the world is not safe and welcoming. Some have had good childhoods but have endured too much conflict, tragedies, or crises that ended in overwhelming pain and loss. Still others have been abused to the point where they've had to shut down whole parts of feelings in their body to survive the fear and pain. They are missing vitality in their life because so much of their self has been lost in order to cope. In place of vital and flexible living, people often experience a habitual sense of alarm and foreboding and in response develop many automatic, but unsatisfying ways of coping with this discomfort.
Therapy Can Help
Are you moving through life feeling wounded, misunderstood, and unhappy? Do you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or cut off from joy and passion? Is your relationship teetering? If it is hard to be your true, authentic self and show up in your relationship(s), in your life in general, therapy can be immensely helpful. You can learn to take charge of your own life and set your course for the happiness and well-being you want and deserve. As a couple you can begin to empathize with each other and learn to trust and to support one another.
Whatever symptoms you may be experiencing or whatever difficulties you are having with others are what most would refer to as problems, but I prefer to think of this as important information, and in one way or another, it all makes a certain sense. This important information tells a story about emotional pain; it tells about the way some of our thoughts, feelings, and actions have become organized around that pain and informed over time the way we've learned to protect ourselves, how we've coped, and basically how we've come to deal with difficulty. This happens very naturally and unconsciously. We may defend, deny, shut down, lash out in anger, or withdraw, but at the most core it's about survival.
Seeking survival makes sense, of course, but what we really all want is to thrive. We want to thrive as individuals and we want to thrive in our significant partnerships. Our automatic responses may have at some point helped us "survive;" they were valuable and helped us cope, but they are holding us back and are certainly keeping us from thriving now. Why settle for living emotionally and relationally small lives? If we can learn to respond from a place of honesty and vulnerability, literally from our heart versus from a place of fear and use this to make good choices rather than reacting with our old, ineffectual automatic response patterns, we will without question have better relationships and will gain more spontaneity, authenticity, and vibrancy from life.
Our First Session
One of the most important things in the therapeutic process is having a relationship with the therapist that feels right to you because this relationship is a major part of what helps you get to where you want to go. Our first meeting is an opportunity for you to see if who I am and how work is a fit for you. I charge my fee for our first session only if you feel that it is a good fit, and if not, there will be no charge and I will offer a referral that I think may be more of what you are looking for. I would consider it an honor to accompany you on your journey toward living the life you want. I have been honored to bear witness to and am repeatedly humbled by the powerful and profound transformation clients experience while in therapy. I intend to make every effort toward developing a therapeutic relationship that feels safe, supportive, and empowering, and where you can feel that it's okay just to start where you are and be where you are without any judgement. I want you to know that your feelings matter, that you matter, that your story is important, and your needs, goals, and well-being are of the utmost importance.
It is in this environment that therapy has the best chance for being a wonderful process for coming home to yourself and living from your heart.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Do you feel that your relationships are unsatisfying and that others don't "get you" or are not giving you what you need? Are you craving intimacy but can't seem to get it? Is it too scary to get close to others and simply easier to run away when things get rough? Do you feel that too often you have to defend yourself? Do you feel that you are not being heard by a significant other? Do you often feel overwhelmed? Is there a lot of chaos and stress in your house? Do your kids seem always to be uncooperative? Is parenting overwhelming to you? Is there too much conflict with your husband, wife, or significant other? Does it seem that the vitality and meaning is missing in your life? Do you ever feel afraid that maybe deep down you are not worthy or are somehow defective, and that the good things in life and in love will pass you by? Do you feel abandoned, misunderstood, or alone in this life? Do you feel like you get too nervous to show up fully in your relationships? Is it a tall order to be honest and to say what you really mean or to express what you need especially when you think you'll hurt someone else's feelings? Do you back away from closeness out of fear of rejection or worse? If you answered "YES" to any of these questions, there is hope and therapy can make a world of difference.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
A major focus in my approach to therapy is to help you face threatening feelings, to notice the ways you may resist them and automatically try to protect yourself from feeling vulnerable, especially to others. I can help you notice, pause with, and regulate feelings of shame, sadness, fear, and anxiety, an alternative to trying to avoid them through unhealthy distractions or getting caught up in worry and obsession as you attempt to change them into something more comfortable. Relationships are mine-fields for these feelings and tendencies, especially feelings of unworthiness and self-defectiveness, rejection, feeling overwhelmed, and unappreciated, and they trigger almost reflex-like responses such as withdrawing, trying to please, or attacking the other with anger and shaming. These are coping strategies, but they may be getting in the way of maintaining close and connected relationships. Resistance to feelings and acting out in survival strategies to protect yourself may be cutting you off from being open, honest, present, and just being able to be yourself. My mission, and passion, is to help you know that your feelings matter, that they tell an important story about what things mean to you and what you need. Rather than living in resistance and self-protection, I would like to help you lean into, turn toward, and feel what you feel, own your truth, and then own and tell your story.
How Psychotherapy Can Help
Learning to turn toward difficult feelings, to notice and pause with automatic responding, and begin instead to be vulnerable and open, and to own and tell your story about those feelings and your needs in the presence of someone safe and empathetic is a major step forward to wholeness. I would be honored to be that safe and empathetic other to you on your journey.