FAQs: Picking A Therapist
What populations do you typically work with?
I work primarily with adult individuals and couples, and occasionally with children as part of the family system. I also have good rapport with teens, as I have raised two daughters, and have worked with high school students as a coach/mentor in the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics competition, in addition to in my therapy practice.
What therapies and modalities do you use with your clients and how might I benefit from them?
I tailor my work to what is needed by each individual. In my counseling practice I use a lot of reframing (cognitive) and psychodynamic tools as well as many strategic therapy interventions. From my bodywork practice I also bring in a lot of body awareness, breathwork, toning, and felt sense exercises which help where the feelings are locked up or anxiety is overwhelming. I work with trauma survivors with techniques and understanding I learned from Dr. Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing, and author of Waking the Tiger. In Marital Therapy I work a lot with Murray Bowen’s model (one of the founders of family systems therapy), as well as with psychodynamic tools learned from Bob Hoffman in the Quadrinty Process. With alcohol and substance abuse clients I work in a complementary way with their 12-step program and help them connect with their spiritual essence for which substances were substitutes, and self-medication for the profound aloneness they have felt. In addition to all of the above, I also bring in a lot of personal experience from having been married since 1976.
How do you feel about psychotropic medications?
I am not at all opposed to psychotropics like antidepressants and so forth. I have had many clients who have benefited greatly from them. At the same time many physicians don’t really have the time within the context of managed care to sit with you and hear about your life and all of the things that may be making you depressed or anxious. With the constraints of managed care, many doctors only have two tools for the majority of their patients. They do a physical exam to rule out organic dysfunction and other “medical” causes of depression, and then they put you on a trial course of antidepressants. Antidepressants alone are not a good long term solution for an unhappy relationship, or for grieving a lost loved one, or for coping with a stressful career. They may be appropriate as an adjunct or pick-me-up while you are working these issues, but if you don’t find the cause and do the work to change your life accordingly, you may find you need them for the very long term, and they may also lose their effectiveness after awhile. Side effects are also a problem for many people on psychotrophic medications.
Most people are aware that there are sexual side effects of the SSRI's, the most commonly prescribed anitdepressants. But, many people don't realize that there are also intimacy side effects of these same medications. So, while having your depression lift is a really good thing, introducing sexual dysfunction into a relationship can cancel the positive benefits for many. And, reducing the ability to feel close to your significant other though introducing an intimacy dysfunction can be even worse than depression for some people. If you are experiencing either sexual side effects or intimacy side effects talk to your doctor about it. It may be that another class of antidepressants will work better for you. Or, get into therapy and work through the issues underlying your depression so that you can work towards getting off of medications altogether.
I’m overwhelmed. There are so many therapies out there. They all have a different philosophical bent. They can’t all be right. How do I choose?
Have you heard the old Indian legend of the six blind men and the elephant? They are all trying to describe the elephant and one has a hold of its leg and says, “An elephant is like a tree.” Another has its tail and says, “An elephant is like a rope.” The one holding the trunk says, “An elephant is like a snake.” The one feeling its side says: “An elephant is like a wall.” The one feeling its ear says, “An elephant is like a fan.” And the sixth blind man feeling its tusk declares, “An elephant is like a spear.” Each was partly right, but all were incomplete, and thus wrong.
Through the twentieth century researchers and clinicians have described what seems like every conceivable aspect of the human psyche. And, they have come up with various techniques and theoretical orientations for helping people deal with problems that are related to that small aspect of the human condition that they have studied and devoted their lives to. Unfortunately, while they are partly right just like the blind men, they are missing the big picture. There is a new trend in the twenty first century that is moving us toward an integrated understanding of the human condition. That is where I practice, from this unifying philosophy.
The best way for you to know what’s right for you is to listen to your intuition. Find the therapist that most speaks to your heart and then jump in and give it a try. You will know rather quickly if you have made the right choice. If it's not the right choice move on. Ask that therapist to help you find what you are looking for.