Enrich... enhance... enlighten...
If your car stops running, the only way to repair it is to figure out what the problem is. You may need a knowledgeable mechanic to do the repairs. And that person will need to have the right tools for that particular job.
Similarly, if you're not absolutely content with your life, it’s important to stop and look at what is not working. Let’s say, for example, you’re feeling alone and depressed, and you want to feel happy and have supportive relationships. There are many solutions that you can explore, and there is no single solution that will work for every individual. A medical doctor, an herbalist, and a religious figure may each suggest different remedies, yet depression from loneliness and unsupportive relationships is often best dealt with by seeing a therapist.
Therapy consists of a professional relationship between you and the therapist, in which there is a mutual commitment to meet, usually weekly, at the same office and hour. You hire a therapist as your guide in exploring your feelings, thoughts, relationships, and behaviors, and how they are affecting you.
Through the relationship you develop with your therapist, you can learn about your way of being with others, as well as how you treat yourself. She or he would help you confront your sense of self-value and difficulties in relating to others. Your therapist may also coach you to relate to others in new ways and to create new types of relationships and communities that work for you.
Every therapeutic relationship, like every friendship, is unique, but there are some important differences between friendships and therapist-client relationships.
•A defining characteristic of most friendships is that they are based on mutual support; there is a natural expectation that each individual will reciprocate equally in the relationship. Therapy is all about you.
•For most people, there are some issues that you feel you can’t talk about with your friends or family, such as concerns about deep anger, sexual problems, painful regrets, recurring stories, or frightening desires. In supportive therapy, you should be able to express freely everything that concerns you and prevents you from being at peace with yourself. You should be heard and understood non-judgmentally, and guided to confront these concerns as your path of healing.
•Often in friendships, what you say isn’t guaranteed to be kept in confidentiality. In therapy, everything you express is kept in strict confidentiality (aside from certain specific legal exceptions). If you feel constrained by the things you cannot share with others, therapy can be deeply liberating.
•Friends often provide a different kind of support than therapists are trained to give. When you tell your friends about your conflicts with other people in your life, sometimes those friends will “take your side” by agreeing with you, even when it’s obvious you mishandled your part in the conflict. Therapists take your side in a different way, by helping you see more clearly your role in the situation, how you handled it, and how skillful you were in acting on your intentions. A good therapist helps you to create deep self-awareness that frees you to make lifelong changes in how you relate to others.
•Most people struggle with the difficulties of bringing up the same old feelings and troubles with their friends. They think, often correctly, that their friends or family are tired of hearing the same story, and wish they would “get over it.” A therapist is trained to identify and focus on the underlying patterns in your stories, and non-judgmentally and professionally bring them into your awareness. Once they are in your awareness, the therapist guides you through processing these patterns so that you can effect change.
No, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy! Seeking the help you need to create the life you want is a positive sign of mental health. People come to therapy for a wide variety of concerns. You are likely to benefit from my help if you are experiencing one or more of the following:
•You are experiencing symptoms such as sadness, depression, loss, anxiety, fear, or panic.
• You are experiencing conflict in your marriage, in your communication, your family, or your work.
•You are going through an important life transition, and you want guidance in navigating it well.
•You’re feeling “stuck,” lost, or unsatisfied in your life, and you want to create more direction, purpose, and success.
•You want more joy, happiness, and peace in your life.
•You want more fulfilling and deep relationships that are mutually supportive.
•You want to create a life you truly love, and experience a new sense of empowerment.
Most people who enter counseling feel nervous about starting, particularly if it’s their first time seeing a counselor. Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed by our problems and emotions, and it’s hard to know where to begin. You may question whether therapy can truly help, or you may think that you should be able to manage your concerns on your own. Or you may think that calling a therapist is a sign of defeat or that you’re “crazy.”
Important relationships are often anxiety-producing in the beginning. Feeling nervous about seeing a counselor is a good indicator that there are some concerns you need to confront and changes that are important for you to make. And often, the best way to deal with anxiety is to just say you feel nervous when you call me, or any therapist. A key aspect of counseling is learning how to openly communicate your feelings and needs, so that you reduce the anxiety in the moment and can take control of getting your needs met.
If the idea of speaking with a therapist still seems daunting, please feel free to contact me.
In general, all communications between a client and a licensed therapist are, by law, private and confidential. I can only release information about you with your permission. There are some legal exceptions, however. These exceptions are: