If you are entering therapy in crisis, our first order of business will be to relieve acute emotional pain and/or to halt any declines in functioning so that you may regain a foothold in your life. As we work together to alleviate immediate suffering, we will also be on the lookout for messages your symptoms might be sending. Emotional distress, unhealthy behaviors, obsessive thought patterns, and stilted productivity can be manifestations of more diffuse forms of pain or discomfort, forms that are harder to locate and articulate. Life is busy and we become adept at pushing aside hurt from damaged relationships, past trauma, unfulfilled desires, uncertainties about identity and other lingering issues in order to just keep going. Though we can become accustomed to living with less urgent symptoms, they can nonetheless block us from productivity, emotional nuance, creativity, and self-awareness. Thus, depending on your needs, we may hold multi-level goals in mind in our work together: 1. to relieve (and/or, reframe) immediate suffering; and 2. to understand and begin to dismantle whatever stubborn internal blocks have kept you from being your absolute best self.
Pressing symptoms may guide therapy in one direction or another initially. I find CBT, DBT, mindfulness, and other techniques to be useful and I integrate these as needed. But the focus of our work will be a consideration of how current struggles fit into a broader context that includes the unique history you bring to therapy. Family culture, relationships with caregivers, interpersonal patterns and habits, cultural identities and experiences, emotional access and expression, and beliefs about oneself and the world are among the areas we may explore with the overarching goal of together developing an understanding of how your mind works.
In most cases, I am guided by an underlying belief that deeper exploration leads to deeper and more sustainable change. Deep does not, however, mean slow, tedious, or arduous. Nor does it mean we must endlessly dig through your past for "answers." Ultimately, my hope for each person I work with is that they may leave therapy with the self-knowledge and skills needed to troubleshoot their way through the inevitable ups and downs that life brings. I tend to be ambitious in the work, as I believe there is no ceiling to how related, joyful, or fulfilled one may become at any stage in life just as there are no limits to how useful, enjoyable, and healing therapy can be.
"What should I talk about?"
Uncertainty about what to talk about or discomfort with expressing feelings keeps some people from beginning therapy. I do not expect you to know just what to say; part of my job is to help you find the words. Your story will begin to take shape as we work together.