Talk therapy for individuals can help with weak self-esteem, grief, depression, dealing with illness and other life crises, and stress and burnout. It can also be very effective for people involved in codependent relationships or those who are, or have been, in a close relationship with someone with an addiction.
Emotions and events that are not acknowledged and processed drain vitality. The purpose of the therapeutic dialogue is to provide the kind of understanding and clarification that will lead to healthy change and development.
When clients seek help from me, our starting point is always the problem they arrive with—our conversations begin with the specific matter they are seeking help for. Together, we investigate its context, the thoughts and feelings around it, and their reaction patterns, and from there we begin to develop new perspectives for understanding themselves and the challenging situation they are facing.
The therapy situation provides an opportunity to focus on and feel what is going on right now. Will that be easy? Maybe not: It might hurt, it might even scare and discourage you at first, or give you a feeling of being overwhelmed.
But by identifying those raw materials—the thoughts and feelings that arise during the process—the therapy will enable you to make decisions and take responsibility for change that is authentic to you, and that energizes and enlivens you rather than sapping your strength.
When love and being together hurt, couples therapy can help. Often, communication becomes blocked—you have stopped listening to each other. Animosity and misunderstanding replace devotion and acceptance, and the connection between you becomes weaker.
Getting communication started again can require courage and a certain amount of surrender.
Saving a relationship that has gone off the rails is an ambitious but deeply meaningful challenge. After all, how we handle intimate relationships goes to the very heart of our personal history. If, for example, you were exposed to many betrayals/injuries/trauma/disappointments as a child, deeply embedded responses to those situations may be activated by situations in which you feel that your partner has somehow failed you.
Lack of awareness of those elements in yourself can lead you to blame your partner for pain and disappointment that he or she in fact had nothing to do with, with negative results for your relationship. Sessions as a couple can be the first step toward rebuilding your relationship and restoring the loving attention you deserve from each other.
You may be surprised to learn that you can enter into therapy with your whole family.
It can make good sense to invite the family into therapy when, for example, a family member’s addiction has affected the entire household. Alcohol problems generate unhealthy behavior patterns and roles within the family, which can in turn support and reinforce the alcohol abuse.
Family therapy can also make good sense when working with a child or a young person, since family patterns have a great influence on the child’s well-being. Family sessions are always conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, giving special attention to the child’s needs, and we begin by all agreeing on the theme and purpose of the conversation.
The family therapy situation offers the advantage of giving everyone access to all information at the same time, and providing everyone with the opportunity both to be listened to and to ask questions.
If a child has been subjected to bullying, or has a mother or father who drinks too much, or has developed symptoms of anxiety, therapy can help. Children as young as 8 can benefit from therapy.
Through my longtime work as a family therapist, I have substantial experience in working with children. I often use drawings in this work, and I involve their parents to the extent that I deem it beneficial to the therapeutic process. Of course, informing the parents about the best ways to support their child’s development is a vital element of the process.