Psychotherapy is a special kind of relationship in which you can expect to feel listened to and also to be challenged to examine the areas where your life lacks satisfaction. Each therapeutic relationship is unique and because of that I draw on a variety of clinical approaches to find what is best-suited for the individual in treatment.
My clinical orientation focuses on understanding how we develop emotionally and relationally, and how we create ways of understanding and interpreting our experiences. These patterns, while helping us to negotiate the world, can also create limitations and roadblocks to growth. Change isn't always easy but the support that comes from feeling understood and recognized can help make it possible to examine the deepest motivations and longings that influence behavior. I endeavor to create a relationship with you in which you feel safe and confident enough to examine your life in a way that leads to living more passionately and finding more opportunities for choice and satisfaction.
Psychoanalysis is an approach to therapy that can be very effective. By increasing the frequency of meetings we are able to get beneath the surface of problems more quickly and gain awareness of how repeated unconscious patterns of behavior may hold us back from deeper intimacy with others and from living more passionately and intentionally. My approach to psychoanalysis is based on building a personal connection through which we may explore your patterns of relating to others, and the unconscious narratives you’ve developed about how things ought to work and how you interpret what things mean. These habits of making meaning of experience often can cause behaviors that hold us back from being able to create change. This is not the psychoanalysis of Woody Allen or New Yorker cartoons, but a highly effective, interactive approach to creating lasting and meaningful change.
Our relationship with our spouse or partner is one of the most significant relationships in life. It is central to feeling life is satisfying. Yet relationships often can be a source of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and suffering. There are many approaches to untangling relationship problems. A visit to the self-help section of a bookstore reveals a multitude of choices for how to work on relationships. All of them address important aspects of relationship satisfaction and difficulties including how to communicate effectively, how to have a "fair fight", how to negotiate differences and how to keep sex alive. Each approach may define love, commitment, and what a healthy relationship is in different ways.
Contemporary coupling has been going through many changes in terms of what "normal" or ideal relationships may be. My own perspective is that there isn't a "right" way to be a couple. However, there are three aspects of relationship needs that I believe apply to most couples; 1) need to feel securely attached 2) need for giving and receiving care 3) sexual needs. Each of us comes into a relationship with pre-existing ideas about what these needs are and expectations about how they will be met. The families we grew up in have patterns of behavior that are linked to these needs and we are raised with assumptions about what to expect in our own relationships based on how we were raised.
These childhood experiences of how relationships work are met with our partner's version of their own family narratives and expectations. We may be drawn into playing roles with each other that can become problematic and confusing. Effective therapy for couples can help identify each person's family narratives and the roles each partner is enlisted to play, which helps uncover the motives behind behavior. Honesty and a capacity for self-reflection are important tools to use in uncovering the causes of relationship problems. My way of working with couples focuses on creating a safe environment in which to uncover the hidden motives that drive problem behaviors. I believe that when couples come to understand the deeper issues that drive their conflicts they are more free to make changes because they can understand themselves and each other more fully.
I provide supervision and consultation for clinicians and am certified by the state of Washington as a clinical supervisor.