We develop ways of viewing ourselves and the world based on different experiences that we have. When we are faced with unpleasant, difficult, or traumatic circumstances, we manage them the best we can by relying on the coping skills we have and by making sense of the situation in the best way we know how.
During the time of crisis, these coping skills are very adaptive, as they allow us to survive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Regrettably, after the situation has passed, continuing to rely on these same skills and perspectives can distort our view of ourselves, others, and the world. It is as if we had been viewing everything through a set of lenses that made sense at the time of the crisis; however, now our view through the lenses has become maladaptive. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, flashbacks, physical pain, stress, low self-esteem, and relationship problems, among many other issues, may arise.
My intention is to help you gain a full understanding and appreciation of why you have developed the views of yourself and the world that you have. We do this through a balance of:
- Respecting, forgiving, and empathizing with yourself about why you have developed those views, and;
- Emphasizing that, although change is difficult, you do have a choice to think, feel, and act differently.
We will strive for you to be empathic with yourself while holding yourself responsible for your own happiness. Our work can assist you in identifying and managing the “lenses” through which you see yourself and the world so that you can eventually remove them to live a fuller, happier life.
Our approach may be informed by and use any of the following approaches.
Gestalt therapy focuses on increasing awareness of ourselves by focusing on our experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, and taking personal responsibility for our experiences of ourselves and the world. It is based on the notion that by raising our awareness of ourselves, we can consequently change our experience by choosing to engage differently with ourselves and others.
Physical process approaches are based on the notion that we lead embodied lives and that our experiences in life are not only cognitive, behavioral, and emotional, but physical as well. As a result, our bodies serve as reservoirs of our histories, and we physically carry with us our experiences, including traumatic ones. Physical process aims to bring awareness to posture, physical sensations, and movements so we can better understand our ways of being with ourselves and the world, as well as finding new ways to experience ourselves and the world.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) examines the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is based on the notion that maladaptive thought patterns lead to unpleasant feelings, like anxiety and depression, as well as maladaptive behaviors. By changing our thoughts, we can consequently experience different emotions and engage in healthier behaviors.
Person-centered therapy is a supportive form of therapy that emphasizes empathy, unconditional acceptance, and genuineness as a way of providing an environment in which we can feel heard and accepted, and safe enough to attempt change.
Mindfulness-Based Therapy and Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based therapy combines cognitive therapy and mindfulness techniques. Cognitive therapy assists in identifying maladaptive thinking patterns and automatic thoughts and changing them to overcome difficulties. Mindfulness has roots in Buddhist tradition and attempts to achieve awareness in the present moment. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, an empirically validated approach to managing stress and chronic pain, aims to raise awareness of negative moods, sensations, and emotions and to use acceptance to overcome our difficulties.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a therapeutic method that has been scientifically demonstrated to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of problems related to upsetting past events. It is based on the notion that when we experience trauma, our usual abilities to cognitively process the experience are overwhelmed, leading to memories of the trauma and associations with it to be stored in an isolated part of our brains and remaining unprocessed. EMDR assists in accessing those memories and associations so they can be processed and we can develop adaptive coping skills.