Individual Counseling FAQ
What is your approach to individual counseling?
I approach counseling as a collaborative process designed to help individuals address their concerns, come to a greater understanding of themselves, and learn effective personal and interpersonal coping strategies. At the center of this process is a confidential relationship between an individual and a trained therapist who has the desire and willingness to help them accomplish their individual goals. Confidentiality helps create a safe atmosphere for exploring one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
I take an active approach designed to help identify the internal and external self-reinforcing patterns that are contributing to your distress. This requires a willingness to be open to the process and open to sharing sensitive, personal, and private information. So for this reason it may at times be distressing. I strive to be a non-judgmental and encouraging coach as you take the risks necessary to make positive changes in your life.
Depending upon the presenting issues, my approach draws upon:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Pragmatic Experiential Method
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Constructivism / Narrative Therapy
- Existential Therapy
- Evolutionary Psychology
- and of course, my own life experience
When should I seek counseling?
In general, individuals find the counseling process helpful when they are having trouble experiencing pleasure in their lives or they are experiencing emotional pain; when they are struggling with low self-esteem; when they are having trouble making sense of life; or when they are unable to develop satisfying relationships. However, many individuals also find a counseling relationship helpful even when life is going well as a means of finding ways to expand or reflect on their lives.
No one answer is right for everyone, but if you are experiencing some of the following, then counseling might help:
- Your feelings are affecting your sleep, eating, job, and relationships.
- You feel as if you can't do it alone.
- You feel trapped and as if there's nowhere to turn.
- You are increasingly turning to alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behaviors to change the way your feel.
- You feel stuck in behaviors that hurt you in the long run.
- Your worries and fears are significantly limiting what you feel comfortable doing in life.
- You worry all the time and never seem to find solutions to your problems.
- You've tried to change, but things aren't getting better.
- You are caught in unhealthy relationship patterns.
What are the kinds of problems you treat?
- Fears, anxiety and depression
- Managing time and stress
- Family and relationship issues
- Substance abuse and other behavioral addictions
- Working through traumatic experiences
- Career changes and job stress
- Adapting to life changes
- Grief and bereavement
- Problems with shame
- Problems dealing with anger
As a clinical psychologist, I am trained in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. The term mental disorder is not really an ideal term as it implies a separation between the "mental" and the "physical" which does not reflect current scientific understanding or my own approach. Unfortunately a better term has not reached public consensus. In current understanding, mental disorders or mental illness are terms that are used to refer to psychological or physiological patterns that occur in individuals and are usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture. The recognition and understanding of mental disorders has evolved over time and are based on a consensus of current formulations. A diagnosis of a mental disorder can inform treatment options and in some cases may support further evaluation regarding treatment with medication. A diagnosis is also generally required for health insurance reimbursement.