My Approach to Helping
Because I have been trained as a Clinical Psychologist, my approach obviously involves providing each individual with a comprehensive assessment of their primary diagnoses related to anxiety, mood disturbances, ADHD, etc., as well as the more problematic underlying ways of thinking, relating, and behaving that exacerbate their condition. This assessment also takes into account that same individual's talents, skills, and resources, as well. After all, it is these strengths that will provide the very foundation on which a successful treatment is based. To do this, my first step is to conduct an initial 3 to 4 hour comprehensive interview, combined with a brief psychological test. Much of what I feed back to patients is a way to understand their world of raw emotions and/or troublesome behavior patterns in very simple, basic terms. While I make a point of providing each patient with a valid and reliable professional diagnosis, with explanations of how it/they might be affecting them in everyday life, these labels are rarely used again in treatment. Instead, the emphasis in treatment is on helping the individual understand what needs to change in order to successfully navigate the most painful of emotions as well as confusing life situations. When medications are indicated patients are referred to colleagues with whom I work on a regular basis, including a Board Certified Psychiatrist with an expertise in Psychopharmacology or, in the case of substance abuse, a Board Certified Addiction Medicine specialist.
My treatment philosophy has evolved over three decades of clinical practice and is quite different from that of most therapists. While most practice the pressured, insurance-driven 45 minute session, I have never found these to be particularly useful or effective, especially on a once-a-week basis. Instead, patient sessions last a full two hours, with patients reporting feeling much more relaxed, comfortable and at ease, confident that they will be able to raise painful personal matters and knowing that there will be plenty of time to see them through to a comfortable resolution. Since multitasking is well known to reduce one's effectiveness, there is no therapist note-taking during sessions. Instead, I have found that the best therapy outcomes occur by giving my full time and undivided attention to what an individual is saying, as well as to the emotions being experienced.
Therapy sessions here are designed to be active and productive. At times an individual may ask for advice or direction. Instead of throwing the question back on them to answer, I believe in modeling exactly how I might think the problem through sequentially; in effect, teaching them how to make 'good judgment' decisions in the future. In fact, much of my approach is educative in nature, rather than pathology-focused. Because some patients also have learning disabilities, including 'auditory processing' difficulties, many, quite understandably, have difficulty remembering certain things that have been discussed during the session. In these cases I routinely use a large Whiteboard above the fireplace to illustrate what is being discussed. These diagrams are then photographed and emailed to the individual to include in their own notes. When needed, patients in my practice are able to reach me by phone or email. Rather than conform to the idea of a packed schedule of patients, I prefer to see fewer individuals, conduct a very successful therapy experience with them, and allow them to move on when things are fully resolved. I do not believe in 'holding on' to patients for an undetermined time, or engaging in increasing levels of psychological 'archaeology' because I know that this is not what they sought in the first place. In those cases where an individual specifically wants to take time to fully understand the relationship between their childhood and adult behavior, that opportunity is available here, as well. For example, this often occurs with psychiatric residents, doctoral level students, or therapists.