My Psychotherapy Approach

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a form of therapy designed to heal emotional suffering through a comprehensive examination of both the symptoms and sources of the problem.  Through understanding the sources of your emotional suffering, we can go beyond mere symptom relief and work to heal your sufferingSymptom relief and deeper self exploration are not mutually exclusive however, and both are addressed in the psychotherapy that I offer.  Therapy is a commitment of time, money and effort.  Therefore, when beginning any therapy, understanding both your motivations for seeking treatment and the way your therapist works are important areas to examine and consider.  To help you begin this process, below is a brief review of my psychotherapeutic philosophy and theory.

What is psychotherapy?

There are many different types of treatment approaches for different types of emotional suffering.  Chronic and complex suffering is generally less responsive to brief counseling techniques.  These problems tend to have deeper origins which interfere with counseling techniques that focus on symptom relief.   To work with both symptoms and sources, psychotherapy places a strong emphasis on emotions, thoughts, behaviors and relationships. We not only work to relieve symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression) but also explore the sources of your problems.  We work to help you understand the origins of your problems, the triggers that continue to fuel them, and new ways of dealing with them.  An important part of this process is that we explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a non-judgmental way. The goal is not on judging them as “right” or “wrong” but for you to gain understanding of yourself and your issues.

What should I expect if I engaged in psychotherapy with you?

The psychotherapeutic relationship can provide a safe and nonjudgmental place for you to explore your beliefs, emotions and behaviors.  You can expect that memories, thoughts, behaviors and emotions you have (and at times avoid) will surface in our sessions.  These experiences will help us see first hand the difficulties you are struggling with in your life and relationships.  We will work together to understand these experiences both in the past and present and how you will decide to deal with them in your future.  You can expect at times this work will feel good and helpful, and other times bad and slow moving.  When your emotions become intense, expect that we will do our best to keep these emotions and experiences “contained” so that they do not become too overwhelming.  The more you are able to tolerate and explore your feelings, the less control they will have over you, your relationships, and your behaviors in life.  

So what does the client do in psychotherapy?

Generally, the client’s job is to attend scheduled appointments, pay the negotiated fee, to be as open as possible, and say whatever is on your mind.  This may sound easy, but at times can be difficult.  For many people, it is difficult to believe intense problems they are ashamed of, worried about or fear they might be judged for having, can be talked about without shame or judgment by the therapist.  Sometimes you will need to push yourself to reveal in session the details, thoughts and feelings that relate to your problems.  Sometimes you may need me to push a bit.  Sometimes people feel anger, fear, distrust or other emotions toward their therapist that are similar to the feelings they experience in other relationships.  This is called “transference” and it is healthy and good because we can use it to your benefit. The transference will help us explore and better understand your feelings toward other people and the possible sources of these feelings.

Do I really have to come every week?

Obviously things occur (holidays, vacations, illness) that make attending some weeks improbable.  However, it is important that there be regular attendance. As you may be noticing from this reading, psychotherapy is more that a weekly 50 minute session with a therapist.  Significant insights for both client and therapist can occur between sessions when problems explored in session continue to percolate for both of us during the week.  Complex emotions need to be stirred up and out in the open for us to experience and understand them.  Too much time in between sessions tends to allow emotions to settle back down.  While this may feel good, it may delay our understanding and perpetuate avoidance of chronic and complex emotions.  Many times the session you don’t want to attend is the session you need to attend. Regular appointment attendance is also important in keeping the “transference” out in the open. For example, if you are angry at me, but are uncomfortable telling me, it will be easier to avoid your anger if our next session is in two weeks rather than next week. 

Fees, Insurance and Schedule

My fee is negotiated with each client. I will fill out insurance forms if there is a benefit payable to you under your insurance.  I want to stress that if you chose to engage in psychotherapy, your therapy will become part of your lifestyle.  Session times will begin to carry equal importance to other hours of the day.  The negotiated fee becomes part of your monthly budgeted expenses.  Frankly put, if your psychotherapy does not take on this frame, the difficult problems you are coming to therapy to work on will not get the attention and priority they will need for change.  Again, chronic and complex problems require more involved treatment.  My psychotherapeutic approach can provide the treatment necessary for change and healing.