My Approach to Helping
"Why is it I keep doing these things that hurt myself and those I love?" Despite our best efforts, we often continue to use things like shopping, food, sex, or chasing that new relationship to make ourselves feel better - even though we know deep down that the relief does not last. No matter how hard we try, we just can't seem to get over blocks, control our angry outbursts, or get that big win. It's as if we keep getting in the way of ourselves. As a practicing psychologist, I am passionate about helping people develop new understandings, grieving that which was denied or taken from us, and finding ways to live that are unencumbered with these burdens.
More Info About My Practice
I am an in-network provider for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Preferred Provider Network (PPO; NOT the Blue Choice network offered through the ACA exchange) and Medicare. However, I recommend checking with your carrier to be sure that I am in network. For all others, I provide a written bill with all of the information required for you to obtain reimbursement from your insurance provider. Depending on the carrier, I may be able to submit a bill on your behalf as a courtesy. Although I can share with you the experiences of others who have used out of network benefits, I highly recommend checking with your insurance provider to get as much information as possible. It's best that neither of us is too surprised about your financial responsibility.
My View on the Purpose of Psychotherapy
The most obvious purpose of psychotherapy is to help you develop an understanding of what has caused and what maintains your suffering and to find relief. Yet good psychotherapy offers the promise of so much more, like finding the freedom to accept the good and the not-so-good in ourselves and entering into authentic relationship with others. It's not that we do not work to be better people, but we can tolerate our imperfections even as we strive to improve. Good psychotherapy is about finding or reclaiming meaning and invigorating passion. And it's about discovering that we no longer have to contort ourselves or deny our feelings or experiences in order to keep a relationship.
What I Say to People Concerned about the Therapy Process
I get it. There are plenty of very inaccurate caricatures of therapy in pop culture, and if you have never seen a therapist before then you are likely to draw on these things. Will he speak to me at all during the session? Will he make it all about sex? And of course, some have seen therapists that at best not a good match.
Let's talk about what I really do. In the first session, we will spend a few minutes talking about the paperwork so that we are on the same page about things like confidentiality and fees. After this, I like to spend the bulk of the remaining time having a conversation about what it is that is troubling you as well as about other parts of your life. Given the way I practice, I believe it is very important for me to understand you as a whole person in your life context: your home life and community growing up, as well as your important relationships with people such as your spouse or partner, children, parents, and friends. By the end of the first session, I want to be sure I have understood and heard you about what hurts and how you hope therapy will help you create a better and more meaningful life. After the first few sessions, we begin by exploring your real feelings, needs, and desires as well as how and why you've been masking them or setling for counterfeits.
Why Going to Therapy Does Not Mean You are Weak or Flawed
Many people see going to therapy as a sign of weakness, failure, or even punishment. But walking through the door of a therapist's office takes tremendous courage. It takes courage to be willing to allow ourselves to be so vulnerable with someone we've just met. It takes courage to admit that we cannot do it alone. And it takes resolve to stare ourselves down and finally try to come to terms with whatever demons grip us. It is a statement - "I no longer want to suffer, and I'm doing something about it."
My View on the Nature of 'Disorders'
If one wishes to use insurance, then labels are a necessary evil. A diagnosis says very little about who we are, what pains us, or what we need to help us feel better and find our way again. I've never met two people with "Major Depressive Disorder" or any other disorder that were the same. That said, some people find knowing that their concerns have a name to be of some comfort. I'm always willing to share my diagnosis - along with an explanation that it is simply a very surface-level description of what hurts.