I start with the basic assumption that individuals seek to be listened to and understood, not be told what to do with their lives or that they can think themselves out of their own feelings. My approach to working with individuals is generally referred to as relational psychodynamic therapy. What guides this approach is the belief that individuals are inseparable from their interpersonal and relational contexts. The therapeutic relationship is central to the therapy and we can use it to better understand difficult patterns in relating, resolve emotional tensions and conflicts, and learn new ways of relating that free us from the bonds of the past. Relationships with important others throughout development shape, impact, and influence us, even in the present. At times, those relationships and other experiences can be hurtful, even traumatic. Therapy seeks to understand those relationships and associated feelings while helping a person fully experience those feelings in a new way. Through this, individuals can live more fully and freely, reduce or eliminate their symptoms, and enjoy more satisfaction in their relationships. This approach also appreciates social, economic, and class/gender/race contexts. I carry with me a dogged sense of hope for all individuals that I work with, an insatiable curiosity about their experiences, and the steadfast belief that “the way out is through”.
The other core assumption that I hold is that individuals need to be understood as whole persons, not as a medical diagnosis or a set of symptoms. Think of it this way – the most common mental health diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). To be diagnosed with MDD, a person needs to have 5 of the 9 symptoms listen in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is a psychiatric (read: medical) manual. Bob may have symptoms 1-5 and Sally may have symptoms 5-9, meaning that Bob and Sally only have one symptom experience in common. Their understandings and experiences of depression are almost completely different. To treat every individual that has depression the same is doing each person a disservice. I seek to honor and value those individual differences and unique experiences of all mental health difficulties.
Some people seek out “name brand” types of therapy, which are often an alphabet soup of confusing terms. While I practice from the relational psychodynamic perspective, I do use selected techniques and ideas from other approaches including: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). I also use a few psychodynamic therapies that have been manualized in ways similar to CBT – mentalization-based treatment (MBT) and transference-focused psychotherapy (TFT).
Please note that I see adults and adolescents for individual therapy and will tailor an approach that works best for each individual. Each individual’s strengths and capacity for resilience becomes a part of the therapy. I usually recommend that individuals come into therapy at least once per week. We can also make adjustments to the frequency based on financial and insurance reasons.
I do not prescribe medication. I am comfortable talking to you about them and quite knowledgeable on the subject but appropriate referrals to a psychiatrist, primary care physician, or psychiatric nurse (APRN) will be made in order for you to receive medication services.
I am also a kink, poly, and LGBTQ friendly therapist.