I offer a form of psychotherapy called psychodynamic psychotherapy.
This approach is helpful when a patient has not been able to resolve his or her problems via the usual ways of coping such as trying to figure it out alone, sharing with a friend or mentor, and using a variety of self-help resources.
If this approach is what is called for, the first goal is that we create an environment where you feel safe to be open. For one thing, except for extreme circumstances which we will discuss in our consultation, therapy is confidential. What you decide to tell me stays in the room. Additionally, there is no judgment as to what has happened or what you have to say.
This environment can lead to a real sense of trust and freedom to express feelings and thoughts--even the seeds of thoughts--that may have felt too unsafe to express before.
From this foundation of trust, therapy proceeds to an honest and frank discussion of what it's really like for you to be living the life you are living. This is immensely freeing for people who have struggled silently with their problems. The truth can finally be spoken, named, and shared. I encourage my patients to notice what they are experiencing as we come face to face with their problems. We listen for any thoughts, feelings, memories, or dreams that surface when we are together. For instance, maybe you would be talking about losing your temper with your spouse or child and remember your parents talking to you in a similar tone of voice. We would then explore why this memory is coming to mind and what might be the link between your current emotions, provoked by the particular person in your life, and any unfinished business you might have with this parent you just remembered. These patterns often get repeated because of some pain that has not been felt or acknowledged. Or we might discover your need to always be right. Maybe feeling not good enough or unlovable is what is behind the irritation with your family member. There is no one answer, and there are many possible causes that may be linked to your current struggles. This part of therapy brings clarity by revealing what is really going on underneath the problems.
Sometimes the therapy relationship becomes a laboratory for crucial self-inquiry. You will likely feel more understood and accepted than you ever have before. In the therapy relationship we are open to and inviting of feelings and responses that are avoided in most relationships, such as anger, disappointment, or hurt. For instance, in the example above where a patient might be angry with his spouse or child, the exploration of that anger can take on a whole different dimension as the patient suddenly becomes irritated with me.
Of course the therapy relationship is professional, but it is also two real people meeting. Any responses to me should be explored. This is how the therapy relationship can become such a powerful source of knowledge about yourself. This differs from ordinary relationships where many people avoid "messy" feelings and just try to move on.
This whole process is an incredibly powerful experience. By seeing it through, patients typically experience change not just in their behavior, but also in themselves and what is possible in their lives.
I hope to provide insights and informational links about psychotherapy in my: Psychotherapy Blog.