My Approach to Helping
When we are used to managing through life's rough spots it can be a real shock when this capacity to adapt suddenly and without warning breaks down. This faltering can happen for many valid reasons, though in the midst of it all these can appear beside the point. For those accustomed to believing themselves more than capable, the act of witnessing limitations can lead to anxiety, depression and despair. Call this the dark-side of being a highly capable person, but when life goes south, it is often the emotionally self-sufficient ones who find themselves backed into a corner.
To add insult to injury, many independently-minded folks don't really get how therapy could actually help them. Their lack of belief in external support makes pretty good sense. People accustomed to managing themselves successfully often cannot imagine how someone else could come up with solutions they haven't thought of first. But here's the thing. There's always a "thing". Therapy isn't really about finding solutions. If you want those you can binge on Ted Talks. Therapy is also different than just finding correct information. In a way, therapy is strangely old-fashioned.
Therapy is about letting another person know you. It's about learning how to count on someone else. This might sound trite, and even ironic, but in our hyper-connected sharing culture, it seems we can no longer expect this level of normal human knowing to happen by default. Because being known for who we are now requires some conscious action on our part, many today are experiencing a profound and psychologically disorganizing lack of connection. Studies repeatedly reveal loneliness reaching epidemic proportions. We've been taught to take better care of ourselves and rely less on others, but many in learning not to count on others come to experience the current culture's mandatory individuality as unsustainable and extreme.
Like everyone else, therapists must adapt to the times in which they live. In the past we did often encourage "boundaries". We said you needed them between you and others so you could become all you could be. Perhaps we went too far. Increasingly those who come to me need assistance in lowering their walls - they need help exploring, maybe for the first time, what it feels like to let another person know them. Very often, in making this essential contact, many do find themselves quite naturally regaining strength, grace and fluidity.
More Info About My Practice
My hourly fee is $130 - 150 (sliding scale available)
Sometimes people want to talk to me before they schedule an appointment. I offer a free 20 minute phone consultation.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
Over the years I've come to realize I am better at assisting some people more than others. It's hard to know exactly why, but I will attempt to explain a little bit who seems to most benefit from therapy with me. A lot of this probably has to do with basic chemistry, personality. But here goes. The people who have come to me who I have seen most transformed, the sort who come to "believe in therapy", do seem to have some common traits. By and large, they are very curious people, meaning they tend to pay quite a bit of attention to the details of their lives and the lives of others, they are also often open in temperament, meaning they are not so much fixed in how they see the world. They are natural explorers, inquisitive and flexible. They tend to enjoy constructing narratives and stories about what they observe in the world, and do find some manner of pleasure in sharing their speculations in the session. These clients appear to have what some might deem "rich inner lives".
They can be excessive people, people who get most into trouble because they feel life deeply and don't always know what to do with that level of emotional contact. They often hunger for more contact from others, in a world that provides this contact mostly superficially. Unsurprisingly, those successful in therapy tend to possess a sort of drive, maybe even some competitiveness. They are haunted by the sense that there's something "more" that they're missing and believe it their duty to discover. Their striving and wanting - while ultimately necessary for creating a good life -- also brings these folks their fair share of devastation and defeat.
The clients who benefit more from therapy with me all care a lot, sometimes more than is necessary, and often not about the right things; regardless, they have a lot of care, and concern and rarely take much of anything for granted; they are not blasť. When they find themselves saying "meh" they can and will panic. They are not "meh" sort of people. They find "the meh" lifestyle extraordinarily disorienting, as it strips them of purpose and focus. Part of the problem is some of these clients have become "meh" people to adapt to a "meh" world, and it is this sort of disconnection and apathy that is largely responsible for their pain. Becoming disconnected from their natural state of care and connection, they experience despair when their lives appear to lack a point.
Successful clients tend to require movement and action in their lives and can panic when they feel trapped or constricted. They need to express their natural authority, their true sense of what they know to be right, but often they have built a life around themselves that was unaware of this need. Often these clients are late-bloomers and misread themselves early on, thought they were weaker or less powerful than they are; now as they become more aware of a growing strength within themselves they are fearful, as their lives may not be designed to readily accommodate their authority. Sometimes this means they need help leaving a relationship that is holding them down, sometimes this means they need to learn to communicate their emergent self in a way that honors and preserves their existing relationships rather than simply destroying them to make a quick getaway. I'm really interested in helping people grow and develop, and to do so with the least amount of injuries to surrounding others. Call it "elegant growth". What's the point of coming into your own if it doesn't make you graceful and enticing to others. Psychological health should ultimately make us easier, and more pleasing for others to be around, not worse for wear. This is an important point as many of the successful clients tend to come in not knowing how to safely manage their own power, they have yet to learn let alone master their strengths. If any or all of this sounds like you, if you try hard in your life, but need help managing the stresses that come when you actually start to get the life you've always wanted, you will probably find some help with me.
How Psychotherapy Can Help
The best thing about therapy is that it helps us with the famously difficult task of accepting life for what it is. Most garden-variety psychological disruption is related to some degree to our inability to face basic reality. I think part of the problem is our world today isn't really invested in us finding this sort of solid ground within ourselves. The world isn't interested in us developing perspective, or priorities. No. In lieu of good old-fashioned maturation, we are now groomed around the clock to look for satisfaction outside of ourselves and our personal connections; we are encouraged to consume our lives rather than to create them. An essential part of this grooming process is keeping us hooked to a perpetual, and largely mainly manufactured distress machine. This is a very real and deeply threatening problem. We need to take back what is ours, our most sacred space, our private space, our deepest and most sovereign selves. Only when we face that self, do we begin to see the sacredness of all others.
What I Love about Being a Psychotherapist
Often when I talk with people about what I do for a living they will say, "Oh, that must be hard hearing about people's problems all day." I'm always a little taken aback by this comment upon what I do, mostly because it doesn't reflect my reality at all. To me, therapy isn't just "hearing people's problems." It's more like being privy on a daily basis to what people cherish and hold most dear. When people are hurting, when they break down and finally decide to "find a therapist" something critical and essential to who they are as a person has been placed in harm's way. They are in danger. I see my job as being with people as they learn what is most valuable and sacred to them, for at no time like when we are hurting are we better able to see what it is we cannot do without. I get to help people see the importance of their lives. This is hardly just "listening to people's problems all day." Sometimes I must admit I feel utterly flattened by the privilege of being the one to know another human being so intimately. That's not a problem for me. My clients multiply my world innumerably.
My Therapy Focus
I'm sort of a made to order kind of therapist. I know we can't be all things to all men, but hey, I'll give it a try. What's most important to me is to find out what my the person sitting in my room is looking for. Sometimes they don't know. I can help with that. I am not heavily invested in using clinical jargon, in fact I do attempt to avoid it. Part of the reason I stay away from it is that I believe language is important, it has the power to unlock our imaginations. But utilizing our creativity takes a lot of energy. Ruts, cliche, groupthink, and all the rest serve a purpose, they are efficient in many ways, they get the point across quickly, but excessive use of such will inhibit our thinking in more flexible ways, livelier ways that add robustness and color to our experiences. I'm basically an old-fashioned talk therapist. For a time people thought talking was not the best cure. They tried to come up with newer, more streamlined techniques for healing. Some of these new clinical treatments are helpful. However, when it comes to really growing self-knowledge, which today's world absolutely insists upon, you've simply got to put in the hours. This means a commitment to talking, exploring, wondering in a room with someone else who is trained to listen. I can't believe what an amazing invention this is. I've been in therapy, myself, I've sat and gone on and on while someone deeply skilled listened to me. Had I not experienced the profound effect this activity had on my own life, I probably would not believe in talk therapy. We do live in a world of machines. Now more than ever before, we need to be heard, if only so we can remember to hear ourselves.