MY AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION INCLUDE:
Couples Counseling/Marriage Counseling
Anxiety and Depression
I will receive you and your loved ones with compassion and respect, and without judgment. I can offer insight into what has created feelings of hurt, resentment, frustration and being stuck,and how to shift relationships and behavior into more productive modes. My goal is to help you meet your needs for harmony in your relationships and a sense of inner peace!
COUPLES COUNSELING/MARRIAGE COUNSELING
Couples seek counseling when they are struggling to find hope and the possibility of change in the face of deeply painful and difficult issues, ranging from constant arguing to aching silence, feeling alone within the relationship, lacking physical or emotional intimacy, grappling with infidelity, alcohol, drug or sexual addictions, financial problems, difficult family members and challenging children, and more. Thirty years of working with couples around such issues has given me a deep toolbox for addressing the variety of reasons driving couples to seek counseling, often as a "last resort".
HOW I WORK WITH COUPLES:
In the first session, I will ask you for a brief history of your relationship and the challenges you have and are now experiencing. I will then give you feedback on how I understand what is creating the areas of feeling stuck and unhappy, and I will give you a clear plan for how to move your relationship forward into greater satisfaction and deeper connection with one another.My role is not to assign "blame" or be a referee, and in fact I will actively move your conversations from talking "at" each other to deeply listening and understanding one another with greater compassion. Once each of you feels truly understood AND validated, you can shift into finding workable solutions together. It's my job to quickly get you there, and it is my goal to begin that process by the second couples' session at the very latest.
It is normal to feel unsure, skeptical or even negative about coming to counseling with your partner. When we have been stuck, unhappy, in pain or have gotten to the point of "I've stopped caring", it can feel impossible to believe that trust, passion and intimacy can be rekindled.Yet I have been honored to witness time and again the remarkable reconnection and healing that couples achieve with one another, sometimes within a couple of sessions. While I cannot offer guarantees of outcomes, I can promise to work with you using proven techniques that will give you both skills to keep you on a successful path forward when you leave my office.
Deciding whether or not to divorce is usually an agonizing, protracted process, often spanning years or even decades before people seek counseling. Most people take their wedding vows seriously and feel a commitment to the marriage "for better or worse," even when things have been "worse" for years. Fear of how divorce will affect children, teens and young adults is a huge consideration for parents. Concerns about financial stability moving forward can loom large, especially if one partner has been the primary breadwinner. How families and friends will react and with whom one will have social suppport after the divorce can also be anxiety-producing. These are all concerns that can be addressed in counseling, whether as individuals, as a couple, or both, to determine if separation and/or divorce is right for you, and if so, how you can all move forward in the best possible way.
Many couples are relieved to learn that divorce does not need to lead to fighting and lengthy, expensive legal battles. Mediation and cooperative or "collaborative" divorces are increasingly common and help couples separate their lives with integrity, compassion and help to maintain the ability to co-parent and share family life cycle events - like graduations and weddings - with civility and enjoyment.
Divorce counseling helps individuals and couples thoughtfully and respectfully separate their lives and keeps the focus on the future rather than a continuation of what did not work well in the past. If you are considering divorce, counseling can be an excellent investment in a happier future for all concerned!
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons clients seek help. From obsessive rumination about the past or worry about the future, to full-blown panic attacks, anxiety causes mental and emotional suffering, and promotes inflammation and disease in the body. Recognizing anxiety as a pre-programmed survival skill of the body - preparing us for “fight or flight” - helps remove judgement about feeling anxious. The mind is hard-wired to continually scan the environment for things that could be harmful, leading to thoughts such as, “What if THAT happens??!!!” Sometimes this is useful for avoiding danger, but more often anxiety just makes it hard to sleep, have constructive conversations with loved ones and to function well in work and daily life.
While medication can certainly ease anxiety, and I sometimes encourage clients to speak with their primary care physician or a psychiatrist regarding medication, it is not a “cure” for anxiety and does not address the thoughts that drive anxiety. I teach clients how to better manage thoughts and emotions with research-based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Practice. Clients learn to notice anxious thoughts and experience a greater sense of calm and control. Emotions and behavior become less reactive or over-reactive. The roller coaster of anxiety begins to slow down and level out. Our human predisposition to anxiety may be “hard-wired” but the good news is, being an emotional slave to our nature is not our destiny!
TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
Depression symptoms can vary from feeling frequently tearful or sad, irritable or angry, to being suicidal. Numerous physical symptoms can also be signs of depression, including loss of or increased appetite with unintended weight gain or loss, difficulty going to or staying asleep, and increased sensations of restlessness or pain in the body. When depressed, people often lose interest in things they would normally enjoy, such as socializing with friends and hobbies. Normal activities and work can feel like they take so much effort that there is nothing left over for the things and people that used to matter.
It is not unusual for someone to experience depression following a loss of a loved one or a relationship, but when depression persists and is present for more hours of the day and days of the week than not and/or is interfering with the ability to function normally in work and home life, then seeking relief from a licensed health care professional makes sense.
Antidepressant medications can be very effective in relieving the symptoms of depression, and are often a good addition to talk therapy. However, talk therapy will address the situational, cognitive and behavioral contributions to depression. Put a different way, therapy can help you think and act in ways that will not only help you feel better, but will also help rewire your brain. A depressed brain focuses on negative thoughts that begin to seem "real," such as, "I feel hopeless, so things must be hopeless." Changing thoughts to ones that are reality-based and more accurate - "I am sad about the end of that relationship, but my sadness is temporary." - not only generates more positive feelings, it also changes the brain so that it notices and focuses on more positive, accurate things. This is Cognitive Therapy. As part of brain rewiring, mindfulness and meditation training also can greatly benefit people with depression.
Managing the situations and relationships that are triggering depressed thoughts and feelings is another aspect of treating depression. Life presents challenges for everyone, but sometimes the challenges are big enough or happen all at one time and we feel overwhelmed. Addressing the situations and dysfunction in relationships that trigger depression is the focus of Behavioral Therapy.
As a Licensed Psychologist trained in CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I help clients address both the cognitive and behavioral aspects of their depression, whether or not they choose to also use antidepressants. These therapeutic approaches to alleviating depression are effective for almost everyone with depression that is not due to underlying medical conditions or head trauma. No one needs to suffer with depression - it can be treated and in many cases cured with the right therapeutic approach!