Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
As a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, it is important to me to pay attention to what’s happening now and to also maintain curiosity about how you’ve been shaped by past experiences, by the important people in your life, and by your enduring beliefs about the world and yourself. I’m interested in being engaged in a therapy that yields lasting results rather than merely masking symptoms. It is important to me to deeply understand the people I work and grapple with the unique features of your life situation. As such my practice is grounded in empathic connection; rather than imposing unwanted advice or telling you things you already know, I work to create opportunities for listening to parts of your story or experience that might be less known to you, to ask interesting questions, to give feedback about what I notice during our time together, and ultimately to unearth the feelings and beliefs behind repetitive patterns of behavior.
Having studied and taught a wide range of therapeutic methods and theories, I think there is value in integrating and making use of different approaches based on the specific needs of individual clients. That said, I find a “theoretical home” in relational psychoanalysis. This contemporary approach looks very different than Freud’s original conceptions of psychoanalysis. Ultimately, it means that I’m interested in your emotional world – the things you long for, fear and avoid, hope for and dream about, and your attachments to the important people in your life. All of this helps to organize your experience of the world and shapes the “rules” you live by and how you relate to others.
For example, many years ago I worked with a woman who was raised by a hard-working single father. He did his best to wear the many hats associated with single parenthood, but would often become angry or irritated when his daughter expressed normal feelings of sadness or disappointment. As a result, his daughter grew up with the guiding conviction and fear that people would be overwhelmed or distance themselves in response to her sadness. In response, my client created a life for herself that was governed by (often excruciating and relentless) perfectionism. When she did allow herself to feel and express sadness, she did so alone in the privacy of her bedroom. This caused people in her life to feel like they were being “held at arm’s length;” my client was surprised when people in her life began to give her feedback that it “felt hard to know her” or “feel close to her.”
Poet David Whyte writes that "our work is to make ourselves visible in the world. This is the soul's individual journey, and the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else's." This, it seems to me, is one of the major goals of psychoanalysis. I continue to be inspired by the power of the psychoanalytic process to create substantial change, to unearth important truths about the self, and to ultimately create more freedom and expansiveness for living well. And I believe that despite the length of treatment (whether it be a total of five hours or five years), psychoanalytic principles help me listen with depth, compassion, and insight.