On this page I briefly describe my approach to individual therapy and couple/marital therapy. I urge visitors considering therapy to also read Thoughts on How to Choose a Therapist. Several answers on the FAQ page may also prove helpful.
(with an extra sentence for teen-agers at the end)
My approach keeps a sharp focus on current problems but also looks at the underlying issues that keep undermining our present actions or choices. As long as our understanding of ourselves is limited, we keep defeating ourselves in our actions, like being stuck in a hole and trying to dig our way out when that is the only action certain to get us in even deeper. In therapy we begin a process of turning our thoughts and feelings into words instead of actions, and by doing that we begin to learn about ourselves and to change.
I initially work to keep therapy sufficiently comfortable for us to approach difficult topics. Good therapy later moves past the merely comfortable. The therapy should feel alive, challenging, and even intense at moments. It is work, this struggle to achieve hard-won truths and ultimately to change. Throughout, I strive to be genuinely present and engaged. I usually avoid jargon but I will make a brief exception here: my approach is a psychodynamic approach informed by cognitive-behavioral and family systems knowledge. I teach all of these approaches to psychology practitioners at the Masters level.
Teen-agers: If what I said above is of little use, just start with this: you will be listened to with respect and I will be straightforward in my comments.
Relationships start in hope, affection and often in passion; by the time a couple comes to therapy, anger, worry and doubt have entered the relationship. My approach to therapy here is starting a dialog in which I assist the couple as we attempt to understand the sources of this shift and to recover the earlier hope, if possible.