Psychological Treatment Services
My Approach to Psychotherapy
A supervisor once told me that for each patient, a psychologist must reinvent the therapeutic process. Because individuals are unique, I take an eclectic approach to the modalities I use with each patient, varying my approach based on the individual’s needs, goals, and personality.
I was fortunate to be trained in Clinical Psychology at University of Hawaii. The program follows a scientist-practitioner model. Through my training, I learned how to apply evidenced based treatment methods for treating many forms of psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression. Such treatment modalities are often time-limited, with evidence supporting improvement in a matter of several weeks.
Not all patients seek therapy to address specific psychological symptoms, however. Many come for personal growth, identity development, examining relationships and interpersonal relating, and understanding barriers to finding meaning and fulfillment. For these individuals, I create a safe, accepting space to examine whatever they wish to explore.
The First Session
In the first session, I will learn what brought you to my office. I’ll spend time getting to know you, hearing your story, and getting a sense what you would like to accomplish through our sessions. Your reasons could be very targeted and goal oriented. For example, “I’d like to reduce my anxiety, have fewer panic attacks, and not worry all the time.” Or, your reasons may be more exploratory. For example, “I’ve had several unfulfilling relationships and I’d like to understand why.”
By the end of the first session, we should be able to have a starting point for what you would like to achieve through therapy, and how I can help you.
Reasons for Seeking Psychotherapy
People seek psychotherapy for a variety of reasons. Some people seek help for dealing with immediate crises in their lives, including coping with stress and having a safe place to explore options.
Others enjoy having a dedicated time during their busy week to focus on growth and personal development. They may examine how they can improve meaning and fulfillment in their lives, and examine barriers to their happiness.
Others identify specific areas of distress, such as symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other points of psychological and emotional distress.
Whatever your reasons, I encourage you to seek help rather than struggle on your own. There is no “right or wrong” patient for psychotherapy.
The following are common reasons people work with me:
Spiritual / Emotional Growth
People who seek therapy for depression often identify feelings of sadness, grief, guilt, and shame. These feelings are usually associated with insecurity, self-doubt, poor self-esteem, and even self-hatred. The feelings are almost never justified, and lead to tormenting shame. Nobody deserves to feel that way.
People who seek help for anxiety often identify excessive worry, fears of social situations, phobias, panic, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Anxiety often leads to avoidance, causing people to miss out on opportunities or activities that would be rewarding and fulfilling. Anxiety is very treatable — don’t let it control your existence!
People who seek help for Trauma/PTSD usually have experienced physical/sexual abuse, combat related distress, or other stressful life experiences. We know that trauma can have a lasting and profound affect on a person’s emotional and psychological well-being, and affect everything from interpersonal relationships, work, and ability to enjoy day to day activities. Often with trauma, people experience extreme vulnerability, and approach life afterwards with fear and mistrust, needing to create a space allowing maximum safety. It’s a natural reaction to an extreme situation, but the PTSD behaviors are no longer effective in “normal” situations. There are many evidence based methods of working on trauma/PTSD that are very effective.
Couples who seek therapy are often dealing with feelings in their relationship such as fear, anger, loss of trust, betrayed, and disconnectedness/isolation. Partners will explore how they feel in the relationship, and often they will discover that they have thoughts or feelings they didn’t realize which are being expressed in the relationship through anger, anxiety, avoidance or other behavioral patterns.
Sometimes, each partner’s personal history and experience, including their relationships in their families of origin, can play a role in the way they interact with each other. There may also be important events in a couples’ relationship, causing emotional wounds, that need to be addressed and resolved in order to move forward.
A primary goal of therapy is to help the couple become more attuned to each other’s’ emotional needs and reestablish a more loving, compassionate, and understanding relationship with each other.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT can be highly effective for treating anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems, and it’s a cornerstone of my therapeutic practice.
Using CBT, we will identify your thought patterns, and how irrational thoughts may be serving to create anxiety or mood problems.
We will then identify alternative thoughts and behavior that are both more rational, and functional, and learn techniques for replacing the old with the new.