Many of our dysfunctional behavior patterns come from coping strategies we learned and observed within the environments we grew up in within our families of origin. Behaviors that might have served us well as children are often no longer useful as adults, and analyzing how our past and present relationships shape our emotions and behavior is key to learning how to change. Whether you are looking for couples’ counseling or individual therapy, or you need help dealing with something more specific such as bereavement, trauma, or boundary-setting and self-care, a systemic approach will ensure that the work you do will carry through to the relationships that give shape and meaning to your life.
Boundary and Self-esteem Issues
If it seems like you are constantly being taken advantage of by others, or that your needs are not being honored, you are probably not as satisfied in your relationships as you would like to be. If this sounds familiar, let’s talk about it, and help you learn new skills that will lead to an increased sense of empowerment in your day-to-day life, both relationally, and personally.
While doing couples counseling with me, be prepared to work on yourself in order to better your relationship. Healthy couples are made of healthy individuals who are self-aware and willing to be vulnerable. The things that bring couples into counseling, be it anger, fighting, or poor communication, are the relationship’s way of telling you that there are unmet needs and underlying issues that go beyond anyone, singular argument. This process can feel scary, but with a bit of courage and plenty of support, you will find that the journey pays off in a more satisfying, loving, and intimate relationship. Relational transformation inevitably includes talk therapy but can also include experiential activities such as sand tray, art therapy, or writing exercises that serve to open parts of our brain that are hiding our insecurities and keep us stuck in a defensive mode. We will also work to uncover power dynamics and communication patterns that can get in the way of mutual respect, support, and trust. While I draw from multiple theoretical approaches in my couples’ work, including Relational Life Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Parts Work, and the Developmental Model, the overarching framework that I draw from is Attachment Theory. Essentially, Attachment Theory illuminates the ways in which we tend to connect and bond with others, particularly partners and spouses, and how those tendencies draw from the kind of relationships that we have with our caregivers, which were formed in early childhood. For a more detailed explanation of Attachment Theory, see here.
Grief & Loss
In a nutshell, grief and loss refers to the end of an important relationship. The loss of a significant relationship will inevitably involve a grieving process. When we do not allow the complicated process of grief and mourning room to breathe within our lives, it will make its own room and force its way in, often in a maladaptive way. When most people think of grief and loss, their mind tends to go to the death of a loved one, but that is only one way in which grief and loss manifests. Mourning also presents when it comes to significant life transitions, such as divorce, youngest child starting school, becoming empty nesters, job loss/transition, retirement, caring for ailing parents, and leaving a religion or faith-based community that you have long been a member of, just to name a few. How do you know when you are in unacknowledged mourning? What does it feel like? It’s like walking through wet cement or trying to breathe through a thin straw. It also looks like alienating oneself from others as well as sudden mood changes. It often looks and feels like depression, which is a common symptom of significant loss. If this sounds familiar, schedule an appointment and we will work through it together.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
Decades of research have established EMDR as the standard of care for trauma work in individual therapy. In a nutshell, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or EMDR, helps the brain reprocess traumatic events in an adaptive way, wherein the brain can make sense of what has occurred and begin to heal, versus a maladaptive way, where the information gets stuck. When trauma becomes stuck in our brains and bodies, it hijacks the nervous system, leading to a plethora of difficulties and an overall lower quality of life, which can look like severe anxiety, a depressed state, flashbacks, startling at loud noises, and various phobias, just to name few. For a more detailed explanation of how EMDR works, see here. It is important that clients be in the right headspace for EMDR to be effective. If EMDR is not called for initially, there are other therapy approaches that can help you reach your goals. Let’s figure that out together.