Improving one’s life usually involves changing some aspect of one’s external life —for example, choosing where to live; what job to take; whom to befriend; whom to date, etc.
Psychotherapy, however, primarily involves changing some aspect of one’s internal life.
For example, people may feel anxious in certain situations and want their anxiety to diminish. They may feel “stuck” and feel they “can’t” extricate themselves from a distressing situation or relationship. They may feel unmotivated and disinterested, and they may dislike this state of mind, but not know why they feel this way or how to change it. They may repeatedly pick partners who treat them disrespectfully and feel upset and confused about why that keeps happening. They may have habits that they know are harmful yet feel they have no control over these harmful behaviors.
These kinds of experiences bring people great distress, and they are examples of the kinds of problems people bring to therapy and that therapy helps people address.
Doing therapy is hard work. It is hard work in part because it involves examining and reassessing one’s perceptions of oneself and others. It often also involves examining and reassessing the reasons for one’s decisions and behaviors and trying out different behaviors instead.
But how we perceive ourselves and others and what we decide to do based on those perceptions are often the last things any of us wants to question or change because they feel so personal and intrinsic to who we are. For these reasons, among others, people often come to therapy as a last resort: we all naturally resist accepting that there may be something about us that isn’t functioning as well as it could be.
But doing therapy doesn’t mean you have to give up on who you are. It often just means examining your beliefs more closely; becoming more curious about your internal life; and possibly updating certain beliefs so that your decisions can then proceed from more helpful and accurate ones.
Oftentimes, a successful course of therapy will involve making changes to one’s external life (i.e. where to live, what jobs or careers to pursue; what people to befriend or date), but those changes usually proceed from internal changes made during the course of psychotherapy.
INTEGRATIVE APPROACH AND LEARNING NEW SKILLS
I describe my approach to therapy as integrative, which means that I draw from all of my clinical training and all of my life experiences in the service of helping patients progress towards their goals and improve their lives.
Learning new skills can also be an important part of the therapeutic process—and I also help patients develop skills to address specific problems as we encounter them during the course of therapy.
Doing therapy doesn’t mean you have to give up on who you are.
It may just involve updating some of your beliefs so that your decisions are more in line with your goals.
CONDITIONS AND ISSUES I TREAT IN MY PRACTICE
My practice involves helping patients address issues related to:
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Relationship issues
There are some conditions I don’t address in my practice as they are better treated by a specialist or in a specialized setting. These include:
- addictions, such as alcohol dependence
- psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia
- patients who are currently self-harming, e.g. cutting
- patients who are actively suicidal, i.e. patients with a current intent, plan, and means to kill themselves
- OCD when symptoms significantly impair the patient’s ability to function, e.g. starting work several hours late every day due to OCD symptoms
- patients who are younger than 18 years of age