“The best way out is always through”-Robert Frost
I believe that one approach does not work for all clients, and I strive to tailor treatments based on the unique needs and goals of each individual person with whom I work. Furthermore, my clinical practice is already guided by psychological research, and the approaches I utilize have been shown to be effective for many people in hundreds of research studies. I view therapy as a collaboration, and therefore I take an active role in my work with clients.
See below for a more in depth exploration of the approaches I draw from:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT for short) is a therapeutic modality based on cutting-edge psychological science which is grounded in Eastern philosophies, most often used for anxiety, depression, addiction, and chronic pain. ACT posits that our responses to painful events (e.g. breakups, failure) or unpleasant emotions (e.g. panic attacks, depressed mood) determines how well we are able to bounce back. While it is natural to want to feel better and generally avoid painful emotions, doing so may inadvertently lead us to even more suffering and an overall sense of being stuck. For example, a person who is terrified of being negatively judged may avoid their good friend’s party. This may alleviate their initial pang of social anxiety, but the next time they are invited to a party they will likely feel even more anxious! They may also begin to feel depressed that they are missing so many social events. Using ACT, not only will you gain valuable insight into the factors that maintain your sense of stuckness or emotional turmoil, but you will be empowered to make the necessary changes to fully engage in a rich and meaningful life.
In a nut-shell, mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental and curious way. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is! In practice however, it can be extremely difficult, especially in the world we live that is full of distractions vying for our attention throughout our day. Unfortunately, if we constantly live “in our heads” or are frequently distracted away from the present moment, it can leave us feeling uneasy, unfulfilled, disassociated, moody, and anxious. I like to view mindfulness techniques as ways to hack our brain’s natural ability to pay attention in order to anchor ourselves to the here and now. Being present from moment to moment is an incredibly grounding feeling and may give you a sense of contentment and peace you haven’t experienced in years. Additionally, there are hundreds of research studies showing the benefits of mindfulness for increasing quality of life, reducing intensity of negative emotions, and even improving the structure and functioning of the brain itself. While meditation is one way we can build our mindfulness skills, there are many other ways to bring mindfulness in our lives.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself”-Thich Nhat Hanh
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Exposure and Response Prevention
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, is one of the most heavily researched and widely used treatments for anxiety and depression. The “cognitive” aspect of CBT involves exploring and challenging maladaptive thought patterns, and coming up with new and helpful ways to look at things. The “behavior” aspect of CBT involves re-adjusting current behavior patterns or learning new strategies in order to better deal with life’s demands and perform at higher levels of functioning.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is an off-shoot of traditional CBT and is considered to be the gold standard for treating anxiety disorders and OCD. ERP is a powerful way to re-gain control from anxiety or obsessive thinking by learning how to systematically and gently face your fears instead of running away. When you learn how to stop avoiding discomfort, you will soon discover that your distressing thoughts are not as important or meaningful as your anxiety wants you to believe they are. You will also learn how to experience anxiety in a more open and accepting way, which will enable you to take a step back and focus your energy on the things that matter most in your life.
Interpersonal therapy is often used when you experience problems associated with relationships (e.g. family, friends, significant others, co-workers) that are negatively impacting your mood or functioning. In this modality, the therapeutic relationship is seen as a microcosm of your life. In other words, what may come up for you during sessions with me (e.g. specific emotional reactions or thoughts) may also come into play in other important relationships. One key aspect of the therapeutic relationship that is unique and special is that we are able process and work through any reaction you have as it occurs in the moment. Not only can this be incredibly healing, but this approach will help us determine what changes you can make in your other relationships to both feel better and have more meaningful interactions.