While people come to therapy for a variety of reasons, what people want most from therapy is to suffer less and to live better. And do this in a way that is clear and makes the most of the time in sessions. A client on a first visit once said to me “My previous therapist was like a friend. But I was not getting any better and I realized I needed more than a friend”. All of us can benefit from talking to someone. And at times, this is all we may need. But for so many, particularly those of have experienced early life trauma or have emotional difficulties, a therapist who has the training and ability to go to take things to a deeper/healing level is needed.
I strive to meet my clients where they are. It can be all too easy for a therapist to look away from his/her client’s deepest pain and not be where they are. We may “listen” as they chat away from their problems. Or we may give advice and support when so much more is needed and expected. We may be reluctant to challenge when appropriate because this will arouse uncomfortable feelings (in the client as well as the therapist!) – ones that need to be taken seriously. For genuine healing and change to take place, a therapist must be willing to face what is in his client and what is in him/herself.
STRUCTURE AND APPROACH
Sessions are typically 55 minutes, generally requiring one session per week. In some cases, more than once per week may be clinically necessary. We will begin where you are and find out what is most important to you. Within the first four sessions, we should have a good idea of what your challenges are to begin working through things to get to a better place. In this way, the therapy will not feel mysterious and/or open-ended.
While I draw upon a variety of theories to inform how I work (cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, experiential, mindfulness), I have been extensively trained in ISTDP and train other seasoned clinicians in this approach. Most importantly, I tailor how I work to the uniqueness of each client to meet them where they are.
WHAT IS ISTDP?
ISTDP stands for Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. As an ISTDP informed therapist, I have been trained and continue to train in a in a way that makes me as effective as possible in helping you overcome your emotional suffering.
ISTDP is evidence-based and has been shown in numerous studies to be effective with a variety of mental health issues. While it is a complex psychotherapy training regimen, it has three important elements: incisive, experiential, and grounded in psychodynamic theory.
Incisive means making the most of the time in sessions and being as clear as possible about the goals and objectives of therapy. It is about tapping into your natural strengths from the very beginning in order to help you face your difficulties more directly.
Experiential means that we give great attention to your experience in the here-and-know. We pay as much attention to emotions and body experience as we do the spoken word. We pay attention to non-verbal communication which accounts for more than 80% of human communication.
Psychodynamic means becoming aware of conflict within ourselves, often out of our awareness, that cause suffering. These conflicts develop early in life and become conditioned ways of behaving and thinking that get repeated over time. In this way, the work is strongly informed by attachment theory – how we have learned to relate to others from an early age.
A DELIBERATE PRACTICE
ISTDP-informed therapy is grounded in deliberate practice. Deliberate practice means that the therapist puts care and thought into what he/she is doing to know what is working and what is not. It means he/she strives through performance feedback to improve his/her practice. As part of deliberate practice, I videotape my sessions. By studying tapes, I learn what can help an individual and what works overall. Other professions use videotape to improve effectiveness, why not therapists? Of course, written videotape consent is required from the client for me to do this. In addition, I follow strict confidentiality and privacy guidelines. It is completely voluntary. So even if you do not decide to videotape, you can benefit from the use of it.
CHANGES THAT CAN BE EXPECTED
Therapy takes work. It requires commitment from the therapist as well as the client for change to occur. Change can no doubt be uncomfortable. And sometimes it can be painful. But rewards can be great. In the beginning, clients often do not know what gets in the way or what is really possible for themselves. After all, at a core level, who really does not want to get better?
I am not successful with everyone I work with. No therapist is. However, my promise is that if progress is not happening, we don’t just continue hoping for the best. We try to find out why. And if need be, we refer out or seek to find other alternatives that may be helpful. It becomes a mutual exploration and acceptance of the reality of the circumstances, not a failure.
Clients who I have been successful working with me have reported the following improvement and changes:
- A significant reduction or remission of symptoms of anxiety, depression, medically unexplained symptoms.
- A greater feeling of connection with significant partners, friends, and family
- An increased comfort around people in general
- The ability to express and communicate feelings in ways that are appropriate
- Significant improvement in the ability to notice and experience emotions
- Become more aware of negative thinking patterns and learn to cultivate positive thinking
- Ability to feel and express anger appropriately without losing control
- Greater confidence, self-esteem, and self-regard
- A greater commitment to their life goals related to lifestyle, work, and family