The main purpose of psychological therapy is to identify and challenge whatever stands in the way of a full and satisfying life. Key to this exploration is the therapist’s provision of a safe, confidential, and trusting environment.
While there is usually a need to investigate what has happened historically in your life, I focus mostly on the here and now. My approach could be described as “practical”, “client-centered”, and “existential”.
Below are a few of the common issues that I work on with clients.
I spent more than two decades working in a hospital environment, primarily seeing people with cancer and their families. What I know from this work is that the challenges of being ill (and caring for someone who is ill) are enormous, and interactions with the health care system can be demoralizing. The need for support increases substantially during such difficult times.
Religious Trauma Syndrome
Immersion in a controlling religion can lead to significant personal problems. And if people eventually decide to leave their religion they inevitably face profound personal and social challenges. I’ve worked with many people committed to getting free from controlling religion. It’s a critically important effort.
Many people find that their work lives are not instilled with energy, enthusiasm, satisfaction and a sense of meaning. My approach is to start with an exploration of the question, “What do you want?” and from there look at internal and external barriers and set goals and action plans.
Spirituality & Meditation
I have been engaged in meditation and spiritual practice for many years. I’m glad to see people for psychological therapy who are doing spiritual work and have gotten stuck and/or are having trouble reaping the rewards of practice because of habitual patterns of behavior, thought and feeling. Too often it is assumed among spiritual practitioners that troublesome personality characteristics will automatically drop away through meditation or other spiritual practices. They don’t! In order to loosen the influence of longstanding patterns we must learn all about them and undertake the hard work of change.
How shall we live the moments that we have? This is a momentous and entirely practical question. And for many people, fear dominates the landscape, blotting out other possibilities. Fear can’t be banished, but it doesn’t have to rule.
Loss & Bereavement
Life inevitably brings loss. But knowing that fact doesn’t prepare people for the intensity of grief, and associated feelings of emptiness, rootlessness, loneliness and despair. Nor for the hard work of rebuilding a future following devastation. I have worked with many people to find their way through loss.
We live in a time when medication is the primary strategy for dealing with emotional suffering. But research shows that medication’s effectiveness (when it is effective) is much higher when it is paired with psychological therapy. This is because the roots of depression are most often found in people’s life situations and their responses to those situations.
With so much on offer in our complicated urban environment, and so many arenas for stimulation and possible success, how do we make the choices and draw the boundaries that allow for balance and equanimity in our lives? What is really important, and how can we implement what we know?