The Psychological Process
Psychotherapy is a facilitated process of psychological exploration and self-reflection. It utilizes insight and intervention, within the context of a confidential relationship between therapist and patient, to achieve psychological healing and integration in the patient. Effective psychotherapy usually takes significant time and effort on the part of both the patient and the therapist. It requires the patient to be actively involved in the process of treatment, and to be honest and open with both self and therapist. In order to maximize the benefits of therapy, please plan on spending at least one hour a week in between therapy sessions, on therapy homework. This may consist of directed reading, journal writing, expressive emotional work, or cognitive behavioral exercises that I will recommend. I do not “check up” on your homework, but consistent completion of the assignments will hasten your progress and assist in your healing process.
The primary goal of psychotherapy is the healing of unresolved past hurts and destructive patterns of behavior that often begin in your family of origin. Such healing leads to an increased understanding of yourself and an integration of fragmented areas of thinking, feeling, and behaving that have been causing you pain and difficulty. Setting personal therapeutic goals and coming to know and accept yourself as you work through the process of reaching these goals will result in increased self-esteem and self-confidence and in more satisfying, effective, and responsible relationships with other people. Psychotherapy will also provide you with increased life skills that will enable you to deal more effectively with inevitable life stressors.
Psychotherapy is a difficult and expensive process, involving the surfacing of memories and past hurts, many of which might be long buried inside of you. These repressed hurts cause you to react in established, albeit, non-optimal, ways and interfere with your personal, relational, sexual, and/or professional functioning. For example, adults who were emotionally abused or abandoned as children often have a very hard time trusting others enough to get close to them. When adults with a history of abuse or abandonment meet regularly with a therapist to talk about personal issues and feelings, they can start to feel uncomfortable with the closeness they are developing with the therapist. This can lead to feeling “unsafe” in therapy and wondering whether it might be better off to quit therapy and “leave well enough alone.” If you start to have feelings like this, it is important that you discuss them with me so that I can help you understand where they are coming from. Acting on these feelings and stopping treatment prematurely will only reinforce negative patterns and delay any possibility of healing.
There is no guarantee that psychotherapy will always yield positive or intended results. Attempting to resolve the issues that originally brought you to therapy may actually result in changes that you did not originally intend. Participation in psychotherapy treatment may lead you to make new decisions about, or change, your behavior, employment, substance use, schooling, housing, relationships, or the way you spend your time. Such decisions and changes may be positive, and even necessary, for you and your well-being, but they may be viewed suspiciously and/or negatively by one or more of your family members. Sometimes, such decisions and changes may even be opposed by family members.
Because of these and other reasons, many people have difficulty beginning, and also remaining, in psychotherapy. Remembering or talking about unpleasant events, feelings, or thoughts can result in you experiencing considerable emotional discomfort including anxiety and/or depression, insomnia, and/or strong feelings of anger, sadness, worry, and fear. During our sessions, I may challenge some of your assumptions or perceptions, or propose different ways of looking at, thinking about, or handling life situations. This can cause you to feel very angry, depressed, challenged, threatened, or disappointed. When you have these feelings, it is crucial for you to talk with me about the feeling, even if the feelings are directed at me. I will not be angry or hurt, but will work with you to help you express the feelings and to learn from where in your history the feelings originate.
After our first few sessions, I will be able to provide you with an initial assessment and preliminary treatment plan. I will usually ask you to complete an extensive Life History Questionnaire and also a Symptom Check List. In addition, I may recommend other psychological testing on a case by case basis, to aid in my diagnosis and treatment planning. Although I utilize a psychodynamic and contemporary psychoanalytic theoretical framework to understand and conceptualize your personality dynamics and treatment progress, I use numerous psychological approaches in designing and implementing your treatment plan. In addition to psychodynamic and psychoanalytic treatment techniques, I use tools from the behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, existential, analytical, family systems, developmental, and psycho-educational schools. If you have any questions about your treatment, treatment plan, or any of the procedures used in the course of your therapy, including any possible risks or my expertise in utilizing such procedures, please ask me so that we can discuss your questions and/or concerns. You also have the right to ask about other treatments for your condition, including the risks and benefits of such treatments. If you could benefit from any treatment(s) that I do not or cannot provide, I am ethically obligated to assist you in obtaining such treatment(s).
Psychotherapy never involves sexual or business relationships. Psychotherapy also never involves any other dual relationships that might impair my objectivity, clinical judgment, or therapeutic effectiveness, be exploitative in nature, or take advantage of the inherent power imbalance of the psychotherapeutic relationship.