“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~Carl Jung
Therapy looks, feels, and means something different for everyone. However, all clinicians share the same goal: to help you, and, more specifically, to help you change something about your life.
Why is it so hard to change?
Frequently, the things we want to change (i.e. our misery, anger, angst, commitment to troublesome patterns, etc.) serve a purpose for us. These character traits help define who we are, how we show up in the world, and what roles we have in different social situations. While they can also cause us distress, their removal from our lives threatens us at a very deep level. We get comfortable in the life that we have built around our quirks and patterns, and we hesitate to consider how vastly our lives might have to adjust to substantial changes in how we view the world. In other words, we are constantly creating an identity for ourselves and the very idea of change represents a threat to that identity.
It is also often times our inability to cope with the inevitable changes of life that can cause such inner turmoil. We as human beings are future directed creatures and as time passes we are forced to change even when we don’t want to or aren’t ready. Therefore, change can be hard because of our own psychological blocks to being in the present moment when we are so hung up on the finality of the past and uncertainty of the future.
What therapy means to me:
The right therapist can help you change by getting you to focus more deeply on the issues you face. He or she can help you give greater voice to your respective experiences so that you may see your life in a new way. This new perspective is what creates the opportunity for change because it offers the clarity, autonomy, and possibility for us to become something different from what we once were. In other words, psychotherapy offers the opportunity for you to discover who you are so that you can create who you want to become. It is so easy to come up with explanations or reasons for why we are the way we are. As a therapist, I want to help you understand and develop your story in greater depth – maybe even more depth than you’ve allowed yourself to understand or put into words so far.
My Approach/What I think makes people change:
My approach is grounded in an existential-humanistic psychological tradition that is inspired by relational and psychodynamic therapeutic philosophies. What this essentially means is that I see my role as your therapist as one that tries to see you in a holistic way through dialogue so that you may better see yourself (your patterns, meaning behind your experience, etc.), and create the person that you want to become through a healthier mindset and future choices.
I have received extensive training in how to help you go into greater depth and breadth of your life experiences by helping you tap into the core essence of your true Self. A lot of my approach to therapy involves getting a very rich and resonant view of your personal story, much like a reader getting to know the main character of a book. In the process, I will always believe that there is a truth to your story, even if it’s hard to explain rationally. I essentially want to see you in the complete context of your life so you may see yourself in a more compassionate and holistic way, and have the strength to change yourself. Therefore, I do not approach therapy with a focus on your symptoms, but rather the deeper meaning behind those symptoms. Together, we will find a basis for understanding why your story makes sense for you and fits consistently in the complex fabric of who you are.
I also believe that we most readily change through the relationships that we hold. We all know that human beings are naturally social creatures, but it can be easy to forget that who and what we are is a bi-product of our relationships with others – this is the essence of human development. As such, I believe that my relationship with you needs to be a real relationship. By developing a close rapport, we will develop the opportunity to use our relationship as a vehicle for understanding how you interact with others in your world. I keep my relationships with clients healthy so that we can both develop a level of closeness but also step back from the bond that we develop to understand the process between us.
Your role in therapy:
As part of my view that the therapeutic relationship is a true relationship, I view it as important that we have more of an interaction with each other during sessions. That said, you will need to take ownership over the things you want to talk about and changes that you decide to make. You will reap the full benefits of therapy if you spend some time before each session thinking about what you really want to talk about or have been struggling with. I will guide and direct the session according to the things that feel important to talk about regarding what I sense you needing. I will certainly have things to say as well, but I cannot tell you what to do.
In this sense, therapeutic insight differs quite a bit from giving advice. For the most part, I will usually respect that you have a better perspective to make decisions about your own life than I do. I can provide input to help guide and direct your thinking, but I rarely provide answers or opinions, choosing instead to help you in figuring out your own answers.
I practice therapy this way because I find that it creates a more lasting and valuable means of treatment for clients. Often times, we can get so overwhelmed with our lives that we just want someone to take it all away or “fix” us. However, were someone to actually do that, it would only teach you to continuously look outward for the answers rather than internally. Part of what determines who you are in the world are the choices and challenges that you face in life. Therefore, I work from the understanding that there is meaning in your psychological suffering and distress. By tapping into that we can create the internal strengths necessary for you to think, feel, function, and change in more autonomous and meaningful ways.