What Is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is the process of examining the underlying reasons for people’s behavior (why), and introducing information and methods designed to make life easier and more enjoyable (how). It is not about blaming others or finding excuses, it is about gaining understanding and increasing the one’s options for coping with life.
The goal of psychotherapy is to eliminate ineffective thinking and actions, and replace them with more effective methods. The methods of psychotherapy include self-examination, gaining new information, and getting support for taking meaningful action.
Including the Spiritual
From the beginning of my career, I have invited clients to incorporate their spiritual beliefs into their therapy. This is the result of working in an alcohol and other drug addiction treatment center which stressed the use of the Twelve Steps which suggests the use of a “higher power.”
Some people come to therapy committed atheists, while others struggle with whether they believe in a God and how to define their spirituality. Still others come to my office with cherished spiritual and religious beliefs. All are welcome. I have worked with people of nearly all faiths (Buddhists, Catholics, C.L.S., Hindus, Jews,& Muslims, Protestants) as well as the, “spiritual but not religious,” and those who are comfortable without a spiritual component in their lives.
EMDR: EYE MOVEMENT
DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING
Eye Movement Desensitization and Repressing (EMDR) was first developed in the 1980s as a treatment for trauma related to sexual assault and combat. By 2004, it was recommended as an effective treatment for trauma by the American Psychiatric Association, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the World Health Organization.
Since then, it has been found effective for treating problems such as anxiety, depression, and phobias, as well as increasing a person’s ability to cope with the stresses of life. It can be used to reduce or eliminate irrational beliefs (ones that are inaccurate), those that are obsolete (once were true but no longer), and shame-based beliefs (“Because this happened to me I am unlovable”).
Results are usually rapid and appear to be long lasting, if not permanent. Clients usually report noticing meaningful changes after one or two sessions.
EMDR does not eliminate memories but it does reduce or eliminate the negative impact of memories on daily functioning. In other words, situations that naturally occur in daily living that used to be disturbing no longer trigger terror or shame. For example, someone who was sexually assaulted in an elevator and has been unable to ride in any elevators becomes able to comfortably use them without thinking about the assault.
Most people's idea of hypnosis comes from seeing or hearing about stage hypnosis where a person quacks like a duck or barks like a dog. They see hypnosis as a loss of control - something the hypnotist does to the subject.
However, hypnosis is quite the opposite: it is a method used to assist a person in gaining more self control. Hypnotherapy is used to reduce or eliminate unwanted thinking and self-defeating behaviors. Anxiety about test taking, public speaking, fear of flying, and phobias are common issues which respond well to hypnosis. It can also be used to make improvements to one's self image, assist students getting more from their studies, and improve performance in sports or artistic endeavors. When I teach a person hypnosis, I encourage them to record the session on their phones so they can access it whenever desired.
12 Steps Spoken Here
I started my career working in a treatment program for people suffering from alcoholism and other drug addictions. I was impressed with the results obtained by people practicing the Twelve Steps (first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous). Due to my respect for the effectiveness of this program I support clients attending Twelve Step-based meetings and actively using the Steps to improve all aspects of their lives. I am often told my ability to, “speak the language of the Steps,” is a major reason many clients want to work with me.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on the interactions of a person's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is based on the idea that what a person thinks will affect how she or he feels which in turn will affect what actions are taken. If a person’s thoughts are irrational (based on faulty information) or obsolete (not appropriate for the present) then self-defeating choices are made. CBT helps a person examine her or his thought, beliefs, and attitude to identify the underlying thinking that leads to unpleasant emotions and problematic behaviors.
During CBT I will ask, “When did you develop that belief? Does that way of thinking serve you well or make life more difficult? What is another way of looking at this situation and what you are telling yourself about it?” I can suggest more reasonable ways of looking at life. For example, instead of remaining loyal to the belief, “Unless every person absolutely loves everything I do then I am a failure as a person,” one could think, “When I do what I believe to be right there will be some people who don’t approve of my actions or think I should do things differently. They are entitled to their opinions, but it is important that I act in a way that is consistent with my values. I want to be true to myself.”
Sometimes a person has to look back at the past in order to move forward. Gestalt therapy is best known for the phrase, "unfinished business," because it focuses on the thoughts and emotions of the client in the here and now that are the result of events in the past. It is used when a person is troubled by grief, hurt, resentments, or a desire to forgive or be forgiven but the other person involved in the past events is unavailable (due to death, unwillingness, or other reason).
Gestalt therapists were the first to use the "empty chair method," during which a person speaks to an empty chair as if another person is actually present. For example rather than saying, "If you were here I'd tell you I'm sorry I never told you how important you were to me," the sentence would be spoken in the present tense; "I'm sorry I never told you until now how important you are to me." This experience is much more powerful than merely thinking about the events; by speaking aloud in the here and now acceptance, forgiveness, and resolution can be obtained.
Prepare and Enrich is a compter-scored inventory that measures twelve relationship skills, allowing you to leverage your current strengths to develop the areas of your relationship that you want to improve.
First Session Materials
What to expect at your first session
Disclosing highly personal matters to someone you just met can be intimidating. As someone who has been a psychotherapy client myself I appreciate that fact. Therefore, you, the client, are free to determine what is to be discussed and to what detail.
Usually the first session is used to determine if you and I are a good fit to form a therapeutic relationship, formulate your goals, and describe what have you already tried to obtain those goals. In addition I will describe the treatment options available.
Release of Health Records and Confidentiality.
Required for all new clients.
Required for clients using hypnosis and/or EMDR.