My Approach to Psychotherapy
I have come to see most difficulties in living as arising from outdated solutions to problems we had when we were very young. Usually, these solutions are adopted before we fully master language, so they tend to be implicit rather than consciously chosen strategies. This can make them hard to identify, understand, and change. When something happens in our life that somehow reawakens the old problems, or highlights the way in which the solutions we've developed are not working anymore, our actions, thoughts, and emotional reactions can become confusing, and this can be painful and scary.
I see psychotherapy as a collaboration between us to identify the patterns of thought, feeling, and actions that are causing you distress and anxiety, or confusing you. We also work together to understand what function these patterns have served in your life, from your earliest relationships with caregivers, through the important developments in your life, to the present. Our collaborative work uses as its data both the experiences (past and present) you tell me about, and experiences that occur as our therapeutic relationship develops.
Because the relationship we develop is an important source of information for both of us, and because it is crucial to the progress of our work that you feel safe in therapy, it will be very useful if you can tell me whatever you are feeling and thinking as we talk together, even if these are not things you are accustomed to discussing directly with others. This can be difficult, for many reasons, and making it feel easier will be part of the work we try to accomplish in therapy.
How Therapy Can Help
As we understand more about the ways you relate to yourself and others, and where these patterns of relating came from in your experience, anxiety tends to diminish, and with it, intolerance for certain aspects of yourself. Accepting yourself more fully and with more compassion, being calmer and more accepting of the way things are, typically will help to free you to think, act, and feel in new ways. The relationship we are building, which is meant to be based on trust and mutual frankness, also serves as a testing ground for experimenting with new ways of relating to self and others that are better adapted to what you want out of life, and to a more accurate understanding of your present situation.
"If you will pause to consider the people whom you look upon as understanding...you will notice that they demonstrate a considerable respect for you. Meeting such a person can be a really significant event; it is almost a privilege to have him [or her] around. This respect for you, which is so impressive when experienced, not only takes the general form of endorsing your worth as a companion in the same room, [but is also demonstrated] when the other person is keenly aware of, and sensitive to, disturbances in your feeling of personal worth, in your security, while in his [or her] presence."
Harry Stack Sullivan, The Psychiatric Interview