Dealing with life’s challenges can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to handle it alone.
Have you experienced a major life change and lost your grounding? Perhaps you’ve ended a relationship, are grieving the death of a loved one, experiencing a health crisis, or left your job? Or maybe you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck, and just can’t pinpoint why. Many of us are over-stressed and bogged down by the constant busyness and increasing demands of modern life. Knowing how to change habits and successfully cope with our emotions to manage a changing world around us, isn't an easy task.
All of us have unique experiences and challenges in our real-life story, coupled with our personality style and temperament, which influences and creates a filter in how we see, and react to, the world around us. Our “stories” can result in limiting beliefs, negative patterns of behavior, fear of intimacy and relationships, or low self-esteem. These self-protective or maladaptive patterns that are built can keep us stuck in the same cycle of not reaching our full career potential, achieving personal fulfillment, remaining in toxic relationships, or unable to feel relief from chronic levels of depression and anxiety.
Growing up in our families of origin often sets the stage for how we internalize the experiences and messages we received related to our self-worth, competence to handle things, and “loveable-ness”. Some people were never made to feel “good enough” or truly accepted for who they are. The relentless worry of never quite measuring up can create low self-esteem, hopelessness, fear of failure and anxiety. On the other end of the spectrum, some overly confident (grandiose) people have been idealized by their parents, or overly protected from making mistakes, experiencing real life consequences.
You will probably be pleasantly surprised to discover how great it feels to have a private space to discuss your thoughts and feelings to an experienced therapist whose sole focus is YOU! Gaining another perspective from a professional, someone who doesn’t have an agenda, and will offer you practical, effective strategies and direction that fits with your goals and developing an action plan can be a very powerful and exciting experience. Many people express relief that a heavy weight has been lifted and they feel less alone in facing life’s challenges.
Our well-being and emotional health take the back seat to other competing responsibilities in our life. Knowing how to put yourself first and gaining a sense of control can transform your life and give you renewed excitement for the future. My role is to shine the guiding light of hope and healing, remind you of the growth you’ve made (because often you won’t notice it yourself), help you cope with the difficult waves of life, and keep you accountable to the work and goals you have set for yourself. I often tell people that once you build and strengthen your inner sense of self and feel empowered, no one can take that away from you.
The most important aspect of what makes psychotherapy effective is the trusting, confidential, professional relationship that is formed between me and any person who seeks my help. In simple language, my approach is to get to know the person first, not the just the “presenting problems” you come in with. I take special care in getting to know you and your challenges at a pace that feels natural to you.
While I have learned countless theories of psychology, therapeutic modalities and techniques over my 30 years in this field, and I utilize many of these because I think there is great benefit and value in having many tools at my disposal. But you will never be made to feel that I am doing something to you. Most of the time therapy feels like a friendly conversation.
I pride myself on being an active therapist in that I don’t find much therapeutic value in just nodding my head or repeating what I hear. Most clients appreciate that I provide direct feedback and suggestions on steps to take. Together we will uncover what emotions hold you back and rewrite some of your dysfunctional core beliefs to improve the next chapter of your life story. Probably the most important aspect of what I provide is a source of hope and an abiding belief that you are better than you think you are. I will constantly reflect and remind you about the growth that you have made even if it feels too small to mention! My mantra is “progress NOT perfection.”
Unfortunately, children don’t come with an instruction manual, and knowing what to do as a parent can be a challenge.
You may be wondering if your child’s behavior is just a normal stage, or if it’s something of real concern. Just like adults, children and teens often have trouble navigating the changes of life, school related problems, social or extra-curricular activities, divorce, or experience low self-esteem. The ways in which children cope with these stressors can have significant short-and long-term consequences on their physical and emotional health, and seeking individual or family therapy when these troubling signs first appear can make a big difference in your child’s overall well-being.
Increasingly, worried parents call me because their child/teen is more irritable, having sleep problems, stomachaches, worries excessively, not enjoying activities they use to enjoy, having bouts of tearfulness, withdrawing from family and friends, less communicative, lacks energy, or is experiencing a drop in school performance and grades. In younger children, fear of going to school can occur. In teens, there may be more “addiction” to video games or social media, peer problems/lack of friends, heightened stress, and immense anxiety about academics and the college process, and, the drive to be “perfect.”
Watching your child not feeling their best can be agonizing, and it’s natural for you to feel confused and distressed about what your child is experiencing, desperately asking yourself, “why?” Is this normal, what’s driving this, and is there hope to get my child back on track? By sharing my insights and recommendations, I try to describe the developmental stages as a means of normalizing what may be the source of the problems, as well as educate parents as to what the child’s behavior and emotions are attempting to “solve.”
The root causes for your child’s problems can be complex and may have built up over the years in a child’s life. We must first start through a process of meeting your child where they are psychologically, letting them tell their “story” in their own time and manner, so we can understand the child’s world view. Once a child is open to discussing their troubling emotions and behaviors, they often are eager for ideas on how to solve them. Teens especially value the counseling “space” because it is private and confidential, where they can feel free to let their guard down, express their deep emotions, and realize they’ll be heard and respected without fear of judgment or negative consequences.
By understanding the root causes of your child’s behavior, we can outline a path
forward for both child and parent to address the underlying issues. Just like adults,
children want to find relief and feel mastery over conquering their struggles, and
providing a framework and guided structure to solve these issues often eases the
anxiety of getting there. Additionally, while maintaining the child/teen’s confidentiality is
of the utmost importance, as a family therapist I believe it is through my “partnership”
with the parent that the child is truly helped. Parents that practice supportive communication skills instill a feeling of love, understanding and build a child’s healthy sense of self.
The most important aspect of beginning my work with a child or teen is gaining trust, both with the parents and the child. With years of experience specializing in child development, treating children, adolescents, and their families, and being a parent myself, I assure you that the trust you place in me is not something I take lightly. I want you to feel that in me you have a valuable resource and “team player” that will devote my wealth of knowledge and experience to support your child/teen’s emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and behavioral growth and healthy development.
For young children, play is the most natural language that children communicate with. Through an array of toys, board games, art materials, and even a fully furnished dollhouse, I invite children to play as we get to know each other. Because the play is non-directive the child feels free to decide what they want to do during their session, which often provides a picture into what the child is struggling with internally.
Adolescents struggle with not being fully heard, trusted, respected or accepted for the person they are at this stage in their life. The support and validation they receive in therapy often helps them NOT feel crazy in our chaotic, stress-filled society. As with all of my clients, creating a caring, supportive rapport and being an engaged listener, promotes a feeling of acceptance and reassurance for your child.
All relationships, like individuals, experience different stages or transitions in life, which naturally create challenges and often conflict.
Raising children, pursuing a career, managing our daily household tasks, and trying to squeeze in a little time for ourselves can naturally create stress in a marriage. But when repetitive cycles of conflict, ineffective communication, and emotional distress persists over time, a couple will likely become more and more hopeless that positive change can occur.
For most, it starts to feel that you and your spouse just can’t communicate, the same old conflicts keep resurfacing with no resolution, one might slowly become more detached and avoidant to “keep the peace”, and often many people are so entrenched in “being right” that getting to underlying causes for the problems, and finding win-win solutions, can feel impossible.
My work with couples involves looking at the marriage from a developmental approach. Simply put, relationships, as well as, individuals, experience different stages or transitions, which can naturally create challenges. Some typical transitions are; starting a new job/career, buying a new house, having children and parenting them, moving away from family & friends, or conflicts with in-laws.
In the first stage of a relationship, we feel “I can’t be apart from my lover.” After the first two years, we begin to notice our individual differences and may then think, “I want to be close to you, but I now recognize how different we are and I want you/us to remain the way you/we were.” Or angrily stating, “you aren’t in-tune with me or meeting all my needs anymore” which results in conflict. Our “personal wants/needs” may interfere with the “relationship needs.”
Providing a safe, non-judgmental, neutral setting for each person to communicate their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, allows each person’s perspective to have a “voice”. Identifying negative patterns and replacing them with communication skills that “connect” versus “self-protect” is another important objective. Appreciating and respecting differences is key to effective conflict management and building a marriage you “Aspire” to have .
My primary goal is to help each person hear things from their partner from a less defensive, reactive place and share thoughts or feelings that each person may have not recognized or perhaps felt fearful about sharing. Intimacy deepens through this emotional exchange.
Painting a vision
Naturally, marital therapy involves “fixing” the problems in the marriage. While we start from the place of what’s wrong with the relationship, my ultimate goal is to move you beyond that. I believe the most important aspect of my work involves helping you both describe the “vision” of the marriage you “wish” to have. I am always surprised by how hard it is for people to describe what they desire and need in positive, behaviorally specific terms. From that vision we develop an action plan.
The Couples Therapy model that I practice combines a developmental perspective, differentiation, attachment theory and neuroscience, to help couples “stretch and grow” in developing new skills for effective communication and problem solving, healthier patterns of relating, and ultimately connecting, at a deeper level.