The following is a brief description of what psychotherapy is about and my philosophy of treatment.

Psychotherapy is essentially a process of liberation. It can free you from painful symptoms such as anxiety and depression. It can also free you from a variety of self-defeating behaviors. It can free you from the obstacles that keep you from becoming who you want to be. It can free you from habitual, unsatisfying ways of relating to others. It can free you and your partner from being stuck in ways of relating that cause frustration, discontent and unhappiness. It can free you from a detrimental past and open you up to a promising future.

Psychotherapy can help you achieve these freedoms because it occurs in the context of a very special, professional relationship -- one with a trained clinician. Psychotherapy is not just sitting down with someone and chatting about what occurred during the past week. It is a focused process with clearly stated goals, which you develop and select in consultation with the psychotherapist. Thus, psychotherapy is intended to satisfy your goals and needs and not those of the psychotherapist. The process focuses on addressing the core problems with which you struggle each day on your life journey and how to remove the obstacles you encounter on that journey.

Counseling and psychotherapy are terms that are often used interchangeably but are really quite distinct. Counseling refers to advisement -- the process of giving advice. The client sees the counselor, explains the problem and the counselor tells the client what to do to resolve the problem. Psychotherapy, for the most part, is not about advisement. In fact part of what brings someone to seek psychotherapy is that they have become lost in all the advice they have been given.

Clinical experience teaches that the patterns of feeling, perception and behavior that lead to many of life’s problems are not chosen, established or maintained at a conscious level. Most of us do not consciously engage in behavior that creates pain and distress; these habits develop outside of awareness, in the unconscious, where we often cannot reach them. To bring about the significant life change that takes place in psychotherapy, one must delve into the unknown, the unconscious, and discover its contents (“insight”). Personal insight is the goal, and the great gift, of psychotherapy.

Usually it is only when we are in a state of great pain (anxiety or depression) or confusion that we are willing to risk exploring some of our most cherished ideas about ourselves that may have created our distress and turmoil. This encounter with the essential truth about the self can only occur in a safe and accepting environment. It can be painful and scary, causing many to prefer to live a pain-filled and meaningless life rather than risk the difficult process of coming to know themselves.

My approach to psychotherapy entails a deep valuing of the human experience in all its complexity. Almost all emotional distress and psychological problems occur in the context of human relationships. Likewise, the solution to these problems is also relational. The power of psychotherapy to heal resides in the professional relationship the client develops with the psychotherapist. The beneficial changes that often, but not always, accompany psychotherapy include a sense on the part of the patient that they are safe, understood and accepted by the psychotherapist. These in turn permit the patient to be open and honest within the context of the relationship and to experience a sense of empathy and trust. Once understanding, trust, openness, honesty and empathy are achieved in the therapeutic relationship, then patients develop the strength and courage necessary to make the changes that free them from the painful symptoms, distress and behaviors that led them to psychotherapy. Thus, psychotherapy is a process of eliminating self-doubt, fear and emotional turmoil while promoting self-knowledge, self-confidence, personal growth and fulfillment.

I view each client as an individual with her or his own unique pattern of perceiving and relating to the world. This pattern was developed over the course of one’s life to assist that individual in survival and in adapting to the world they encountered, initially in their family of origin and then in the larger outside world. All too often the tools we employ to survive lose their effectiveness or become dysfunctional. It is often these very skills, which we learned and have used to survive that create the psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, fears and relationship difficulties) we experience today. The main goal of psychotherapy is to learn new, more effective, more productive, fulfilling and symptom-free ways of perceiving and relating to the world.

My approach to psychotherapy focuses primarily on the present and the problems manifest in the client's current life. We cannot undo the past but we can change the way we perceive and approach the present.

Most of the clients with whom I work complete the therapeutic process within six months to a year. Symptom relief generally begins within five to eight sessions and significant changes occur within 20 to 30 sessions. The actual rate of change varies with each individual and the nature of her or his problem. Some individuals choose to continue with psychotherapy. This is a choice made by the client in conjunction with the psychotherapist and I respect the client’s wishes to terminate treatment.

So What Is Involved in the Process of Psychotherapy?

  • Guided self-assessment to identify the sources of one’s anxiety and depression, life adjustment problems, personal conflicts, relationship issues, behavioral problems, family conflicts, self-identity issues, emotional problems, and/or life stage development issues that are interfering with overall life adjustment, emotional well-being, and life satisfaction.
  • Exploration and identification of the origins of these problems, conflicts and/or issues, both psychologically and factually .
  • Development of a plan for change to resolve these problems and/or issues, including both personal psychological changes, and situational life changes .
  • Assistance in making the necessary personal and life changes through coaching, psychological education, ongoing behavioral and emotional analysis and feedback, emotional support, behavioral and cognitive training, and assistance in reformulating life goals.    

Psychotherapy appointments are usually scheduled one to two times per week depending on the needs of the patient. This allows for steady progress toward resolving the presenting problem and allows enough time between sessions for the patient to work on issues discussed in the session. Occasionally, if a life crisis occurs, or if the symptoms of depression or anxiety are particularly severe, sessions may be scheduled more frequently. Once progress in psychotherapy is being made, many psychologists schedule sessions approximately once per week. This is about the minimum that I have found for the process to work. 

Psychotherapy is often helpful when:

  • One feels overwhelmed by life problems
  • Depression, anxiety or anger are taking over one’s life
  • When one is uncertain about how to manage a major life decision
  • When one is distressed and troubled by an important relationship
  • One is having difficulty coping with a serious illness that affects one self, or a family member or friend
  • One’s work is too stressful and one feels that they cannot handle it anymore
  • One doesn’t know what to do, or where to turn for help

Caution: The process of psychotherapy sounds simple enough but don’t be deceived, it involves a lot of hard work.